I know a lot of people who are not really into cherry dessert. Baking with cherries sounds really gross to them. Some even have a hard time facing an apple pie because cooking fruits to them is nothing but YUCK!
I happen to be the opposite who loves to bake with fruits. I can’t really recall which fruit I haven’t tried to bake with. Maybe durian? Well, the thing is I don’t even like to eat durian.
One of the perfect reasons to bake with fruits is you can make use of those not-really-good-for-eating ones, like these under-ripped cherries. They are cooked with sugar, cornstarch and lemon zest for a little while, before they become a bowl of tasty sweet cherry filling that goes perfectly with vanilla ice cream.
I reserved some to make these mini cherry pies. They are not crazily sweet like the traditional ones, thanks to the buttery shortbread crust which helps balance the flavour. The size is good for a single serving, wonderfully perfect to pair with a dollop of vanilla ice cream, whipped cream or creme fraiche.
Ingredients (10 mini pies):
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups cherries, pitted
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup and 2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons corn starch
1 teaspoon lemon zest
To prepare the crusts, in a large bowl, sift the flour and salt.
Cream butter and powdered sugar in a bowl of a standing mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla.
Reduce the speed to low and beat in the flour mixture until just incorporated.
Gather dough and form a dish. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 30 minutes to chill.
To prepare filling, combine the cherries, sugar and 1 cup of water in a saucepan over medium-low heat and cook for 10 minutes.
Mix cornstarch and 2 tablespoons of water into paste. Add the mixture and lemon zest to the cherries. Keep cooking until it thickens. Allow the cherry filling to cool to room temperature.
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a muffin tin.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out 2/3 of the dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into 4-inch rounds. Gently fit the dough rounds into the bottom of the prepared muffin tin.
Spoon 2 to 3 tablespoons cooled cherry filling into each cup.
Roll the remaining dough out and cut into 1/3 inch width strips. Lay 3 or 4 strips over the filling, evenly spaced, and then weave with the remaining strips diagonally. Adhere the ends to the edge of the shell.
Bake the pies for 18 to 20 minutes until lightly browned.
Remove from oven and let the tart shells cool a few minutes before inverting and transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.