“Cherry Hand Pies”
Cherry pie is my favorite pie. It might have something to do with growing up in Michigan. Michigan is one of the top United States growing regions for sour cherries. The climate in Michigan yields a perfect cherry and the sour cherry most associated is called the Montmorency cherry. If you can find Montmorency cherries fresh or frozen, I urge you to buy them and make some pie filling. During the summers in Michigan I used to go to the farmer’s market with my Mother almost every weekend to buy fresh produce. This probably accounts for my habit of farmer’s market trolling. I can find any farmers’ market in a 50 mile radius. The Husband will vouch for me on this. Thank you Google, thank you smartphone. I love the whole FM experience; it’s a feast for the senses- vendors almost beg you to try their samples, they beckon you at every corner- smell my stuff, taste my stuff, drink my stuff, BUY MY STUFF. Yeah, we get it. You can usually find some kick a$$ food stalls also at a good FM. It’s the perfect cheap Saturday date. Something about perfectly stacked fruit and produce in pretty piles gets my juices flowing. Since I no longer live in Michigan I have to hunt elsewhere for sour cherries. Luckily I can find sour cherries here in the frozen fruit section at one of my favorite grocery stores. Luckily my Mother sends me 5 lb. bags of sour cherries every year. It’s not as fun as picking them out at the market, but the pie filling is still delicious. This is my cherry pie filling recipe and I sneak in some Michigan dried sour cherries into the mix; I’m kind of nostalgic that way. Enjoy.
For fun Michigan cherry facts; this is a cool website to check out:
Suzie’s Cherry Pie Filling
1 1/4 C sugar
5 Tbsp. quick cooking tapioca, ground fine in a mortar and pestle
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 small lemon, juiced (2 Tbsp. lemon juice)
6 cups frozen sour cherries (thawed overnight)
1/2 C dried sour cherries
1 Tbsp. vanilla
In a small bowl; combine the sugar, tapioca powder, salt and cinnamon.
In a 3 quart saucepan, dump the entire bag of cherries; juices and all and cook the cherries over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes. Remove the cherries with a slotted spoon and place in a heatproof bowl; leaving behind the cherry juices in the saucepan. Let the reserved cherries sit in the bowl for about 10 minutes; (more juice will seep out of the cherries) strain the juice that collects and add back into the cherry juice in the saucepan.
To the cherry juice in the saucepan, add the sugar mixture to the cherry juices and simmer over medium heat until the sauce is thickened; about 13 minutes. Stir in the dried cherries and cook for 2 minutes longer or. Stir in the reserved cherries. Stir in the vanilla. Cool the mixture. The filling will yield enough for one whole 9 inch pie or several small hand pies.
Cherry Hand Pies (yield 8-12 pies)
2 sheets puff pastry, thawed
cherry pie filling as above
cream or half & half
Cut out 3-4 inch rounds or squares; depending on the desired shape of hand pies you want. Fill each half with about 1- 1 1/2 Tbsp. filling. Lay another matching round or square over the top and press together to seal. Crimp the edges with a fork or seal securely with your fingers. If you want to make turnovers you can simply cut out squares and place the filling in the middle of the square and fold over to form a triangle. Brush the tops of your pies with half & half or cream. Sprinkle with sugar.
Place the pies on a parchment lined sheet pan and chill the pies in the freezer for 10 minutes; or alternatively chill in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes. When ever you bake with puff pastry you want to make sure your puff is really cold before baking. Pierce the pies a couple of times with the tines of a fork; or as I have done, I cut out a heart shape on my pies; this will prevent the pies from bursting and filling from oozing out too much when baking. Keep the pies spaced about 1 1/2 inches apart, Bake at 400 º F for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.
Note: You can freeze any leftover filling to save for future pie making