My Take: Cherry Hand Pies

Cherry Hand Pies hot from the oven

Back in July Whole Foods had a mega one-day sale on fresh cherries. The local Twitterverse was all, well, a-twitter, about the sale and we plotted what we were going to make for days. It so happens I was interviewing for the job that I now have on the day of the sale, so I acquired five pounds of those oh-so-sweet little red fruits before I left. (I also forgot my iPad at the store but that was all about the nerves and has nothing to do with the cherries.)

I made all sorts of goodies with my cherries including Bittman’s pancakes stuffed with cherries and sprinkled with almonds, a pork tenderloin with a rosemary-cherry sauce, and cherry scones. My main motivation for buying the cherries though, beyond just sitting and eating them right from the bag with sweet cherry juice streaming down my chin, was to make the Cherry Hand Pies I’d spied in the July issue of Bon Appetite.

This recipe caught my eye for several reasons:

  • It is pie made easy. There’s no crust to make, just puff pastry to roll out and after you pit the cherries the filling is a breeze to make. And because they are hand pies, they are even easy to serve and eat.
  • The pies are portable making them potluck, tailgate, and overall party friendly.
  • You can prep the pies ahead of time and freeze them. We all know how much a prep-ahead recipe warms my little heart. While it’s not specifically mentioned in the recipe, I’ve worked with puff pastry and pie filling enough to know you can make this recipe through the pie assembly step then freeze the pies for 6-12 weeks to cook later. You don’t have to thaw them, just pop them on a sheet pan, brush them with egg wash, sprinkle them with raw sugar, and bake for about five minutes longer than the recipe calls for.

The recipe was as easy as it looked to be and the pastries were exceptionally tasty. The only change I made was related to the puff pastry crust. I used Pepperidge Farm puffy pastry instead of the Dufour listed in the recipe because Pepperidge Farm is easy to find at any of the grocery stores I frequent and it’s a great, consistent product. The Pepperidge Farm pastry comes in a 17 oz. box and in two sheets, so I had to tweak my pie making just a bit. I rolled each sheet of pastry into an 18 x 10 inch rectangle and cut six 6 x 5 inch small rectangles of dough for a total of 12 instead of the nine listed in the recipe. Each pie had a smidgen less filling than they would have if I’d only made nine, but I didn’t think they pies were light on filling at all. I had three extra pies to boot – a win all around I’d say.

I’m pretty sure this recipe would double or triple easily if you need to feed a crowd and you could do all sorts of interesting things to spice up the filling. For an adult-only version, add a splash or brandy or even cherry liqueur to the mix. Some finely chopped almonds or pecans would add a little extra crunch. Drizzle the finished pies with a little bit of melted chocolate if you want to be really decadent or sprinkle a few mini chocolate chips in with the cherry filling for a hint of chocolate baked right in the pie.

As I look forward to the holiday entertaining season, I’m thinking these would be really great on a dessert buffet because they hold well at room temperature and I can make smaller versions of them for 2-bite desserts. I’m also planning to take a double batch to a tailgate this football season. They are the perfect dessert for holding in one had while you hold your favorite game-day beverage in the other. Go pie!

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