I have a serious love affair with cherries. I live for the summer months when I get to consume handfuls of fresh, local cherries on the regular. I love anything and everything made with cherries- sweet and savory recipes alike. The only exception to my cherry addiction are maraschino cherries. I just can’t stand them!
But back to the ones I do like. I love the Rainier and Bing varieties the most. My favorite place to get them is the Thorp Fruit and Antique Mall, just off of I90 past Ellensburg (if you’re coming from the East that is, it’s just before Ellensburg if you’re coming from the Westside of the state.) A quick travel plug: If you’ve never visited the Thorp Fruit stand you really need to! Calling it a stand is a little misleading because it’s more of a giant warehouse. The bottom floor has fresh produce and other specialty food items from local growers and the top contains an assortment of antiques and collectibles. It’s a fun family owned operation that has been around for the past 50 or so years at least.
When I can’t get to Thorp for my fruit fix, I love to get my hands on some of the cherries that grow a little more local to Grant County. I visited the Moses Lake Farmer’s market a while back and found the beautiful bunch pictured above. To prevent myself from eating the whole bag though, I forced myself to come up with a fun recipe to use some of those cherries in. In my head I pictured the most beautiful cherry pie with one of those crusts with artistic designs on them (like cute little leafs or something).. but let’s be honest. I’ve never attempted a pie like that and I didn’t want my first attempt to be a total fail.I had seen a friend of mine on Facebook make mini fruit pies a few months ago, so I settled on attempting little mini cherry pies! I mean, the chances of messing those up were a little smaller after all. I decided to use puff pastry instead of actual pie crust for these hand pies because I love how flaky and buttery puff pastry gets after baking. Plus puff pastry is totally easy to use!
This recipe makes six hand pies. It’s very easy to make and most importantly, the pies are so delicious! They didn’t last more than a day in my house!
For the Crust
1 box (two sheets) frozen puff pastry, thawed
Coarse sugar for garnish
Egg wash: one egg beaten with two teaspoons milk
For the filling
1 and a 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 and 1/2 tablespoons water
2 and 1/4 cups fresh cherries pitted and stemmed (if you’re reading this when cherries are out of season, you could use 12 ounces of frozen cherries instead)
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
We’re going to start by making the filling. Mix cornstarch and water in a small bowl until well combined and set aside. In a medium saucepan, combine cherries, sugar and salt. Cook over medium high heat, stirring occasionally for about five minutes or until the cherries start releasing their juices. Stir in the cornstarch water mixture and cook until it comes to a boil, stirring often.
Once it reaches a boil, remove from heat and add vanilla extract. Mix well and set aside. You’ll want the filling to completely cool before filling the pies.
While that’s cooling, we’ll move on to preparing the crust. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. On a floured surface, roll out one sheet of puff pastry. Cut the sheet into six rectangles (three will be the bottom of the pie and three will be the top). Repeat this step with the second sheet of puff pastry so you will have six bottom pieces and six top pieces. Now would be a good time to preheat your oven to 375 Fahrenheit as well.
Place your six bottom pieces a couple inches apart on the parchment lined baking sheet. If they don’t all fit, you will have to use a second baking sheet (just don’t forget the parchment paper!). Use a pastry brush to brush the edges of each bottom piece with some of the egg wash. Then you can spoon two to three generous tablespoons of filling onto each bottom piece.
Place the top crust pieces over each bottom piece, making sure to line the edges up as best you can. Use a fork to crimp the edges shut. Using a sharp knife, slice two slits on each pie for air vents. Brush the tops of the pies with more egg wash, and top with a sprinkle of coarse sugar.
Place baking sheet in the oven and bake for 30 minutes, or until the pies are golden brown. I found that rotating the pies halfway through baking helped with the evenness of the browning. Depending on your oven you may or may not need to do that though. Remove pies from the oven once done and let cool on the baking sheet. Once cooled, you can dig in! Try to eat just one, it’s dang near impossible!