It’s certainly not the pits around here, even though I’ve been through quite a few of them lately. Cherry pits that is. Through the generosity of OXO and the Northwest Cherry Growers cherry deliciousness abounds at Sweet Sensations. I received ten pounds of cherries, a digital kitchen scale, nesting bowls, cherry pitters, plus free reign to create all things cherry.
With ten pound of cherries sitting in front of you it’s hard not to gorge yourself on these sweet beauties before even beginning on a recipe. Or maybe that was just me. Research shows that cherry-enriched diets in animals lowered total blood cholesterol levels and reduced triglycerides (fatty acids). I’m sure that by the time I drenched them in sugar, chocolate and buttery rich dough all those health benefits went down the tube. Oh well.
The Mr. who doesn’t care that much for sweets suggested hand pies. If Mr. Sweet Sensations wants hand pies that’s what he gets. I get a little squeamish when working with pie dough but I gave it the old college try. This was the first time I’d made or eaten cherry pie and I was pleasantly surprised. I think the canned pie fillings are what turned me off. Homemade is the way to go my friends!
Cherry Hand Pies – Adapted from Chocolate Moosey and MyRecipes.com
½ cup butter
4 TBS almond paste
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¾ tsp salt
¼ cup ice-cold vodka
4-5 TBS ice water
1 cup water
¾ cup sugar
1 TBS cherry juice (optional)
¼ cup cornstarch
¼ tsp vanilla
4 cups cherries, pitted and halved
For the dough: Cut ½ cup butter into small cubes and break the almond paste into small pieces let them both chill for 15 minutes. Stir together flour and salt. Cut butter and almond paste into flour mixture with a pastry blender until it resembles small peas. Gradually stir in vodka (woo-hoo) and ¼ cup ice-cold water with a fork, stirring just until dough begins to form a ball and leaves the sides of bowl, adding up to 1 TBS more water if necessary. Place dough on plastic wrap; shape into a flat disk. Divide dough into 12 portions. Shape each into a ball and roll into a 5-inch circle. Luckily, I have a 5” cake pan which made this part easier. Stack circles between layers of plastic wrap or wax paper. Cover with plastic wrap; chill 2 to 24 hours.
While the dough is chilling make the filling, ha!!! In a large saucepan combine the cherries and sugar and let set for at least 30 minutes. Macerating them draws out some of the moisture and lets the fruit soak in its own juices. This is the juice that I used. In a large saucepan combine the sugared cherries, 1 TBS of juice, water and cornstarch. Stir over medium heat until thick and bubbly. Cook an additional two minutes stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Cool to room temperature before using.
Working with one circle at a time, spoon 1 TBS of the cherry mixture into center of each and fold dough over filling. Press edges together with a fork to seal. Place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet or spray the sheet with non stick spray. Using a fork prick the top of each one. Mine baked at 350 ° for 30 minutes. The original recipes says to bake at 425° for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden. Remove from pan to a wire rack, and cool to room temperature. I couldn’t resist adding a light powdered glaze for a little extra sweetness. You can always use an egg wash instead of glazing.