Mini Cherry Pies
It's completely different from any store-bought or restaurant cherry pies I've ever tried. I really hate cherry pie, actually, except for this one! So if you usually steer clear of sour, gooey, thick kinds of pie, you should give this a try. If you like that kind of thing, you might hate this. But I doubt anyone could hate this pie!
It's phenomenal when it's warm from the oven, or perfect for breakfast straight out of the fridge. If it survives that long! And it takes like two minutes to throw together. I usually don't even measure the ingredients. Just toss 'em in there and bake. If you decide to do a fancy lattice crust on top or the little mini ones like I show here, it will take a while for construction. But so worth it!
- Two 9-inch pie crusts (I love Pillsbury!)
- Two cans of tart red cherries in water (Get these in the canned fruit aisle, not like the pie filling in the baking aisle. The store brand is just as good as the one in the photo, I think.)
- 1 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup flour
- Almond extract (secret ingredient!)
- Egg and milk for crust wash (optional)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Prepare your muffin tin. Cut squares of aluminum foil larger than the circles of the muffin tin. They should be big enough to press down into the cups and leave four corners sticking up. You'll use these for handles to remove the mini pies when they're done baking. (That's the step I left out in my photos, sorry!) Flatten the bottom dough piece and cut out circles with a cookie cutter, drinking glass, or something the same size as or slightly larger than the circles of the muffin tin. Place the circles of dough into the foil-lined muffin tin, gently smoothing and spreading the bottom so there's enough dough to go up the sides and meet the edge. Set aside.
Mix the filling. Drain the cherries. In a large mixing bowl, gently stir them together with the flour, sugar, almond, cinnamon, and vanilla. I use a generous splash of the flavorings and a few good shakes of the cinnamon. If you're making a 9" pie, pour the filling into the prepared dish. For the minis, fill each muffin cup with a couple spoonfuls of filling. It should reach almost to the top, with just enough room left to finish the edges with the top piece of crust.
Make the top. Here's where you can play around. You can make a plain top, which is much faster, by cutting matching circles of dough from the top piece, placing them on top of the filled mini pies, and finishing the edges with a fork. I did a woven lattice pattern, which takes forever but looks really pretty. You can even leave the top crust off the minis completely. For the woven top, cut circles like you did for the bottom pieces. Try to keep them in rows so that you can slice the strips in fewer cuts. Use a pizza cutter to slice evenly-sized strips from all the circles, try for six from each circle.
Lay three strips across a mini pie in one direction, then weave in the strips for the opposite direction. It goes more quickly if you place and weave as you go, but it takes practice.
Finish the edges by rolling or pressing the excess dough from the ends of the strips into the edge of the bottom crust. Press the edges with a fork if you like the way that looks. If you want a golden, shiny crust, whisk an egg into a splash of milk. Lightly brush the eggwash onto the crust before baking. (I've put too much egg wash on a pie before, and I swear it made little puddles of thin omelet everywhere!)
Bake. If you're making the 9" pie, tear off two 4"-wide strips of aluminum foil. Fold them in half and over the edge of the pie dish so that the crust won't burn. The minis bake a few minutes less, so they're alright without it. Bake the 9" pie about 30 minutes, removing the foil for the last 10. Bake the minis for 20 minutes.
Now here's what they looked like when I tried to pull them out of the pan without the help of the foil lining. Not great. The fragile woven top separated from the bottom. Although, the minis without the crusts tasted just as awesome, and they were easier to eat too!