We ended up with a large bag of cherries after we hit the farm stands on our way back from Yosemite a few weeks ago which frankly weren’t so great after about the third day. The weather turned warm here in San Francisco all of a sudden and the cherries got a little soft and squishy sitting out on the countertop… I’m one of those people who loves cherries but only when they’re super firm and sweet. What to do with not-so-great fresh cherries? Bake a pie! But instead of one large pie, I went for these petite pies. They have a higher proportion of crust to fruit (and who doesn’t love a little more crust?) and they pack well for a picnic or hike. Cherry season won’t last long, but you can substitute sliced plums or apricots (and the corresponding dried fruit) later in the summer. Enjoy!
Cherry petite pies
1 ½ tablespoon corn starch
2 cups fresh cherries, rinsed, stemmed and pitted*
2/3 cup dried cherries
1 tablespoon cherry liqueur
½ cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 14-oz package frozen all-butter puff pastry
Flour, for dusting
1 large egg white
1 ½ teaspoon raw (turbinado) sugar
Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Stir cornstarch into 1 ½ tablespoons cold water in a small bowl and stir with a fork until cornstarch is fully absorbed. Combine fresh cherries, dried cherries, liqueur, sugar and vanilla in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the cherries release their juices. (You can gently mash the cherries with the back of a wooden spoon as they cook to encourage this process.) Stir in cornstarch mixture and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, stir in lemon zest, and let cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.
Roll out pastry on a lightly floured surface to an 18×15 inch rectangle. Using a sharp knife, cut dough into nine 6×5 inch rectangles. Whisk egg white with 1 tbsp cold water in a small bowl to make an egg wash. Set egg wash aside.
Working with one pastry rectangle at a time, place on a work surface and brush edges with egg wash using a small pastry brush. Scoop three tablespoons cooled cherry filling onto one side. Fold dough over the filling so the short ends meet. Press edges together with fingertips then crimp and seal with the tines of a fork. Using a paring knife, cut a few slits into the top of the pie to create vents, then transfer to prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining pastry rectangles and filling. Brush each pie with remaining egg wash and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
Chill assembled pies for 30 minutes. While they are chilling, preheat oven to 375F and bake pastries until tops are flaky and golden brown, 30-40 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes on baking sheets before transferring to wire racks to cool.
Note: I don’t generally push kitchen gadgets, but a cherry pitter is an especially helpful tool for this recipe and any recipe calling for fresh cherries. You can pick one up for less than $10.