When I posted about my homemade almond extract project on Monday, I suppose I was putting the pit in front of the cherry, so to speak.
I’m sure you’re wondering what in the world I did with all those cherries I had to have eaten to get to all those pits?
Ate them by the bowl-fulls, mostly.
However, when I realized that the last of my plethora of cherries were a little past their peak, I decided to do something else with them. Cooking something is a really good way to disguise the fact that it’s not super fresh. Shhhhh….Don’t tell Wheat that.
First, I had to pit them all. After reading the many suggestions on Chowhound for how to pit cherries quickly, and trying a few different methods (seriously didn’t get the bobby pin trick?!), I came up with a pretty dern efficient way to get ‘er done.
I scrounged around in my college kitchen remnants and found a funnel flask. I tried an icing piping star tip and tried to pit cherries a la Martha Stewart, but I just ended up bending the tip. The funnel worked MUCH better. It’s sturdy, stable, and fit perfectly.
Just place a cherry (stem removed) stem side down on top of the funnel and push it down!
The pit almost always stayed in the tip of the funnel, and the cherries (mostly) remained intact. Beware though – this is a MESSY process. I highly recommend an apron.
Anyway, I was left with a bowl full of pitted cherries!
And their pits! Into the freezer went the pits for future almond extract.
Now what to do? I wanted something easy. I decided to go with cherry hand pies!
Semi-Homemade because I didn’t have the time nor the energy to make the pie crusts.
After a decent amount of Googling, I came up with a super simple recipe for cherry pie filling based on probably 8 I found and liked online.
Simple Cherry Pie Filling
– approximately 2 cups of pitted fresh cherries
– 1/2 cup sugar
– 1 teaspoon (a little overflowing) vanilla extract
– 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt (I eyeballed half of a 1/4 teaspoon – aka just a pinch!)
– 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch (aka 1 tablespoon + 1 1/2 teaspoons)
– 1 1/2 tablespoons cold water (again, 1 tablespoon + 1 1/2 teaspoons)
Whisk together the cornstarch and cold water and set aside. Add the cherries, sugar, vanilla, and salt to a medium saucepan and cook on medium heat for about five minutes, or until the cherries really start to release their juices. Re-whisk the cornstarch/water mixture and add it to the cherries. Stir together and bring to a rapid boil, stirring often. Remove from heat (just after bringing to a boil). Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.
Cherry mixture boiling (above) and the finished pie filling (below) for reference and pretty pictures.
To make the hand pies (aka tiny, hand-held size pies), I used Pillsbury refrigerated pie crusts. Just call this post Semi-Homemade with Nata-lie. #foodnetworkjokes
The first round I tried using an old biscuit cutter to cut out circles, which I filled with about 1 tablespoon of filling, then placed another one on top and crimped the edges with fork tines. I do not recommend this method. It is messier and has more chances of leaking, and I didn’t think they were as cute as the second method.
Second go-round I tried using a much larger scalloped cookie cutter and then folding that in half. Winner winner!
For whatever method of hand pie formation you use, to create an egg wash, I mixed two egg whites (or if you save egg whites in the fridge like I do, two tablespoons of egg white) with one tablespoon of cold water. Use a pastry brush to brush the egg white wash over all the hand pies. I then sprinkled some sugar on them for a little sweetness and sparkles. Oh, and don’t forget to use a sharp paring knife to cut slits in the top. Otherwise, your cherry hand pies will most definitely explode.
Bake on parchment paper or a Silpat (I only had one Silpat, so one baking sheet has parchment paper and one has a Silpat).
Side note: Silpats are awesome. I want 20 of them, and if you bake or cook a lot, so should you. They are French silicone non-stick, non-slide, awesome baking sheet liners that are also perfect for rolling out doughs.
I baked these at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. They could have stayed in a minute more, but they turned out REALLY tasty!
And what doesn’t taste better in miniature form?
I went a little crazy with the pictures.
This was on Sunday, and Wheat came home from playing golf to a house smelling like cherry pie, and I won the wifey of the year award.
I barely. did. anything. Again, do not tell Wheat this.
Make these. Go forth and impress people, y’all.
Harold, however, was unimpressed, as he did not get to taste-test any cherry hand pies.