A little bird told me that my grandpa loves cherry pies.
Ok, it was a biggish bird.
A biggish bald bird.
With a goatee.
Anyway, the type of bird matters less than what this said bird told me.
Which is that my grandpa loves cherry pies.
Which we’ve already covered.
So when it was time to celebrate my grandpa’s birthday last weekend, cherry pie seemed an appropriate gift. But I wanted it to be a gift and not just like I was bringing dessert for everyone. I found out today that my grandpa decided to share (or was pressured into it, but who’s to say?) but I wanted the gift to be his, first and foremost.
Thus, I opted to make mini pies.
I found this recipe on the Food Network website (there’s also a video here.) It seemed fairly simple, but when I read the reviews there were some complaints that the filling wasn’t flavorful enough.
I, being practically unable to leave a recipe alone, decided to up the ante by adding almond.
I started out by making the pie crust, just like the recipe said.
Wait, did you hear what I said? I made a pie crust. From scratch.
In case you forgot, I don’t make pie crusts. But I did this time.
My grandpa had better know how special he is, because I definitely don’t make pie crusts for just anyone.
So the recipe says to make it in the food processor, so I did. I think it would have been better to do it by hand, though. I found that the butter didn’t cut in really consistently, and the water didn’t incorporate like I wanted it to. I had to mix it by hand at the end, and the amount of water called for seemed a bit much. The dough was a little wet at the end, but I didn’t want to add more flour for fear of overworking the dough. So I made sure it was really cold so it would be easier to work with. I put it in the freezer while I made the filling.
I did mostly everything the same with the filling, but I cut the cherries in half instead of leaving them whole. If you don’t have a cherry pitter, you’d want to cut them in half anyway. But I thought it would make it easier to eat the mini pies if they didn’t have whole cherries.
Then, after adding the sugar/cornstarch mixture, I added 1/8 tsp of almond extract and a pinch of salt.
Then I got the pie crust dough out of the freezer. It was rock hard. I probably should have taken it out sooner. But I didn’t. So I left it out at room temperature just until I could work it. Then I did what the recipe said, only I used a 2-inch biscuit cutter for the top crusts and 2 1/2-inch for the bottom crusts.
Once we pressed the bottom crusts into the prepared mini-muffin tins, we filled them each with 3 cherry halves. And when I say “we” I mean my sister and I. We like to cook together.
After taking the picture above, I also put a little more of the saucy stuff in there, too.
Here’s where I started diverging more from the recipe:
After pressing the top to the bottom with a (pickle) fork, I used an egg wash on the top.
So, if you’re not familiar with an egg wash, you just beat up an egg and brush it on with a pastry brush. Sometimes recipes say you should add a little water with the egg, but I didn’t bother.
After that, I put two sliced almonds on each.
I cut two vents with a paring knife above the almonds.
And then I sprinkled some raw sugar over the top.
You could also use sanding sugar (the kind you buy in the sprinkles department) and you could use regular sugar, but it won’t have the same crunch.
I baked them the same as the recipe called for.
So they ended up bubbling out anyway, even with the vents. You could put a little less of the sauce in each cup, but I actually thought the filling spilling out was sort of pretty.
The recipe says it make 24 mini pies, which is one mini-muffin pan (at least the kind I have.)
After making the 24, I had tons of both the pie dough and the filling. So I made up a dozen hand pies.
I probably could have gotten another pan of mini pies, but I didn’t really feel like doing all the work again, and I figured we’d just be eating these ourselves. I threw these together really quickly and roughly. That makes them extra “rustic.”
So to make these (sorry, I forgot to take any pictures) I used a pizza cutter to cut the rolled-out pie dough into squares– just roughly. Then I put a small amount of filling in one corner and folded the opposite corner over it to make a triangle. Some of the “squares” were more like rectangles and wouldn’t fold easily into a triangle, so I just folded them into rectangles.
Crimp the sides with a fork again, and repeat the egg wash, almonds, vents, and sugar from the mini pies. They baked for the same amount of time.
As for the mini pies, I made sure to take them (carefully!) out of the pan before they were completely cool, because I thought that if the spilled filling got too cool, it might stick too much to the pan to get them out cleanly.
And I only messed up one of them taking it out!
It was too bad, really, because then I was forced to eat it.
The verdict? Delicious.
It’s a bit of extra work to make adorable tiny pies, but really not that difficult. And who can resist a tiny pie? And if you’re not up to all that work, just make some little hand pies. They’re really simple to make, and still small and cute. Yum.
Here’s the base recipe again, in case you want to check it out.