I was so excited by what I found at the co-op the other day– sour cherries! Finally. I’ve been waiting for these little babies to show up for nearly a year, though to be honest there wasn’t much chance in me missing them. The walk to the co-op has become a daily– yes daily– adventure for my daughter. Aria has decided that a walk to the co-0p, and more importantly her getting to push around a little cart and help pick out the food, is as good as it gets for a daily field trip. I’m not complaining. We get a bit of exercise on the way to browsing through organic, local food. It’s a mini-adventure for us, and given the home-body nature of my boys (Aanen and Radd), it’s nice to know I have an ally. Train them while they’re young, right?
We don’t get sour cherries that often in Minnesota. Despite checking daily, I think I was lucky to get my hands on these. I knew exactly what I wanted to do with these perfectly tart, bright red cherries. A couple months back, I saw a recipe in Bon Appetit for Cherry Hand Pies. They looked incredible, and though they called for regular cherries, I wanted to wait for the sour ones in order to add a little zing. I love tart desserts. If you’re not fortunate enough to find sour cherries, use the Bing variety– no doubt you’ll still be very satisfied with the result.
This is a great recipe for those of you who don’t have some of the equipment necessary for a few of the other recipes here on Relishing It. All you’ll really need are a skillet, rolling pin, and cookie sheet. Even better, the dough is simple because it’s already-prepared puffed pastry. That’s right, very little effort goes into this fantastic dessert. The filling is brilliant– it combines sour and dried cherries, nicely balancing both the sweet and tart sides of the fruit. And the consistency is firm enough that you won’t end up with a sogged-out pie. I’ve talked about puffed pastry here before– I love working with it. It turns out perfectly flakey, and in this dessert it holds everything together beautifully. Finally, the raw sugar sprinkled on top for finishing adds a nice crunch. I made eight of these the other night, planning to give most of them away to friends and neighbors. They were so good that we ate almost every one…in one evening. So beware, they’re really that good. Enjoy!
The Recipe: Sour Cherry Hand Pies
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 cups (12 ounces) sour cherries , stemmed and pitted (frozen cherries can be used if thawed)
2/3 cups dried cherries
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract (vanilla can be substituted)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 17-ounce package puffed pastry, thawed in the refrigerator (use all-butter if you can, I used Pepperidge Farm)
2 large egg whites mixed with 2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons raw sugar for sprinkling (use more if you want)
Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. (Note: I ended up using two pans and baking the pies in two separate batches). Stir the cornstarch with 1 1/2 tablespoons of cold water in a small bowl. Set aside. Combine the fresh cherries along with the dried cherries, granulated sugar, almond extract, and salt into a large saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the cherries begin to release some of their juices, about 5 minutes. Add the cornstarch mixture and bring to a boil, stirring often. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
Roll out one of the puffed pastries on a lightly floured work surface. I found that rolling it into a big square of 16-inches worked the best. Cut the sides with a pizza cutter or sharp knife so they are completely even. Cut the dough into four even sections. Repeat with the next pastry dough when complete.
Working with 1 section at a time, brush the egg wash along the sides of the pastry. Scoop 3 tablespoons of the cherry mixture onto one side. Gently fold the dough over the filling. Crimp the edges with a fork to seal. Using a sharp knife, cut three slits on the top of the pie to vent. Place on prepared baking sheet; repeat with remaining dough and filling.
Brush tops with remaining egg wash and sprinkle with raw sugar. Chill for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375°F. (Make sure your oven is accurate). Bake pastries until tops and bottoms are golden brown, 25-35 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes on baking sheet. Then transfer to a cooling rack…or your mouth. Store at room temperature.
Source: Adapted from the July, 2011 issue of Bon Appetit Magazine
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