Last year, I went for a savory pie. This year, I chose to do sweet little bite size pies to serve with a drink for the Wayfair Battle of the Pies. These are quick and easy and reminiscent of that old classic McDonald’s hot out of the fryer, ooey, gooey, sweet and crunchy apple pie. These pies are simple because they use jarred sour cherries and pre-made pie crust. The bonus is you can make a little cherry Shirley temple or a grown up cherry cocktail to serve with them out of the cherry juice that is left behind.
For this recipe you will want to use a hand mixer. It is an important tool to have in your kitchen because you don’t always want to pull out the entire stand mixer for a job like this. I don’t know too many people who have fryers but they are inexpensive and easy to use and there is nothing like a freshly fried potato chip, french fry, or pie. Fryers are great for garnishes too. A family friend of ours used to set his up on his porch to fry so then the house didn’t smell greasy at all. I’m going to add a fryer to my wish list this year. But for now, I made these mini pies on the stove with a traditional pot and some oil.
- 1 box of pre-made pie crust (2 crusts)
- 1/2 lemon, zested
- 1 x 24 oz jar of sour cherries in juices
(not in syrup: Ingredients in mine said sour cherries, sugar, water)
- 1/3 cup of sugar, plus 4 TBSP, divided
- 1 tsp of corn starch
- 1/3 cup of Amaretto, plus 2 tsp, divided
- 3/4 tsp of almond extract, divided
- 4 oz of cream cheese
- oil for frying, 4-6 cups based on size of your pot
- For cocktails you will need: lime seltzer or one lime and a bottle of Champagne/Prosecco or Bourbon and plain seltzer
- Take the pie crust and cream cheese out of the fridge and bring to room temperature.
- Drain the cherries over a small pot. Set the cherries aside. To the cherry liquid, add 1/3 cup of Amaretto and 1/3 cup of sugar. Bring the liquid to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer. Simmer for 20-30 minutes to reduce the liquid by 1/2. Set aside to cool. This will be your cherry syrup for your drinks.
- In a second small pot, add the cherries and heat over medium low heat. Mix 2 TBSP of sugar with 1 tsp of corn starch and add it to the cherries as they are cooking. Cook over low until the cherries begin to release some juices. Add the zest of 1/2 a lemon. Continue cooking for about 15-20 minutes. Set aside to cool.
- Drain the cooked cherries from their liquid over a bowl. Add the cream cheese, 2 TBSP of sugar and 2 tsp of Amaretto to the bowl and mix with a hand held mixer.
- While the cherries are cooling, unroll one pie crust at a time. With a rolling pin, roll the pie crust out to about 2/3 of its original thickness. Then with a small juice glass, cut out rounds of the pie crust.
- Put your oil in a pot. The pot should have high sides and the oil should be no higher than 1/3 of the way up the side of the pot. You will want about 1 1/2 inches of oil. Heat the oil slowly over medium heat. The oil should have a slight shimmer to it when ready. To test if the oil is ready, take a little scrap of pie and put it into the oil it should float up and begin to turn golden brown within a few seconds. If it does not the oil is too cold. If it gets dark too fast the oil is too hot. Prepare a plate with paper towels and use a slotted spoon or slotted metal spatula to remove pies from the oil.
- Now for assembly. Put a small dollop of the cream cheese into the center of your little crust circle. Top with 3 -4 cherries. With your thumbs and pointer fingers, slightly stretch out the other crust circle and set it over the cherries. With a fork, press down all around the two crust layers to seal the mini pie. Continue assembling your pies. Once you have 2 or 3 ready, you can begin to fry them 2-3 at a time.
To make your cocktails:
Note: There is Amaretto in the syrup, but it has been cooked down so there will be no significant amount of alcohol in the cherry syrup.
Cherry Shirley Temple: 1 oz of cherry syrup, 1/2 oz of fresh lime juice, top the glass off with lime seltzer.
Cherry Champagne Sparkler: 1 oz of cherry syrup, 1/2 oz of fresh lime juice, top the glass off with Champagne
Bourbon Cherry Cheer: 1 oz of cherry syrup, 1 oz of Bourbon, top with seltzer.
I love the retro look of this Betty Crocker mixer. This T-Fal fryer has a filter for oder and also is dishwasher safe (minus the heating element).
You can have a lot of fun with the cocktails and pies. You just need the right cup and make sure you cut your pies to be able to rest on top of the cup. The pies will shrink a little as they cook. Go colourful with these cups, or have a Japanese cherry blossom theme and pour the cocktails from a tea pot. I also love the simple lines and modern twist on the Champagne flute with the words going up the glass. They would look perfect with a pink cherry cocktail to offset the letters. Use a flute for the Champagne cocktail and a coffee, tea or espresso cup for the Bourbon cocktail. The golden flute below is plastic so perfect for an outdoor party by the fire pit or for the kids’ Shirley Temple.