Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries (and Murder Hornets)
From the pandemic to “Tiger King”, 2020 has been crazy. I invite you to turn off the news and turn on your oven to make my BEST very berry cherry pie recipe and get back to the simple pleasures this summer. Click to skip to the recipe
Think about all of the crazy things that have happened in the first six months of 2020.
In a Super Bowl commercial, Mr. Peanut (Planters Nut’s mascot for, oh, maybe forever….) died. Prince Harry and his bride decided not to be royalty anymore while Hollywood royals, Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson contracted COVID-19 and were quarantined in Australia. The rest of the world decided to lockdown as well and the audience for Netflix’s “Tiger King” was born. The Boy Scouts went broke. Murder Hornets swarmed Washington state. The Pentagon released UFO photographs, and no one even batted an eye.
Life is just a bowl of cherries….Right?
Well, it is if you are a fruit pie lover. That is, if you are a cherry and berry fruit pie lover.
Everyone needs a little break once in a while and mine came this week when I discovered a huge bag of dark red cherries in the produce section of the grocery store. I brought them home and pondered their delivery.
Will it be cherry ice cream, cherry chutney, cherry jam, cherry cobbler, or, hey, what about cherry pie?!
I did cheat by using one of the several refrigerated pie crusts that I had in the fridge. I’ve always had a bit of a problem getting the crust to hold the filling. Sometimes it’s just too soggy on the bottom. So, I thought I’d use a prepared crust and concentrate on the filling. Most recipes call for frozen cherries. These exude a lot of liquid when you simmer them, mostly from being frozen.
In order to use fresh cherries, I had to add liquid. Normally just a bit of water would do. But I happened to have a bit of berry sauce leftover and thought, well, why the heck not! I’m sure the murder hornets won’t mind.
Then I added a touch of vanilla. Something about cherry coke and vanilla coke just kind of enter my brain, and, well….BEST CHERRY PIE FILLING EVER!
The berry puree is easy and it’s the perfect thing to do with fruit that is getting a bit too ripe. This step is not as time-consuming as you might think and is definitely worth the effort.
In place of turning on the evening news this week, why not turn on your oven instead and make this yummy dessert?
After all, life is just a bowl of cherries!
Very Berry Cherry Pie
Remember having a Vanilla Coke on a warm summer’s day? Well, take that memory and turn it into a summer fruit pie. Yes.…I did just that!
8 cups fresh pitted cherries
½ cup berry puree (see note)
1 cup granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling
¼ cup corn starch
1 teaspoon vanilla
Refrigerated pie crust for two-crust pie
2 tablespoons butter, cut into small cubes
2 tablespoons half and half
Serves: 6-8 people
Time: 20-minute cuisine plus baking
Place the cherries into a saucepan over medium heat. Cook until the cherries begin to exude their juices, about five minutes. Stir in the berry puree and continue cooking until the cherries begin to breakdown, about 5 minutes more.
Mix together the sugar and the cornstarch. Stir this into the cherries. Stir in the vanilla. Stir and continue to cook until the cherries are sticky and slurpy, about 5 minutes more.
Remove the pan from the heat and cool to room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 375°. Roll out one crust and fit into the bottom of a pie plate. Pour the cooled cherry filling into the pie crust. Dot with butter. Roll out the top crust and fit over the filling. Crimp together the edges and cut slits in the top. Brush the top crust with half and half and sprinkle with sugar.
Bake until the pie is golden brown, and cherry filling peaks through the top crust, about 45 to 50 minutes.
Make-Ahead Berry Puree:
Place 4 cups berries and ½ cup granulated sugar into a deep saucepan and simmer over medium-low heat. Cook the berries until they break down and are soft and mushy. Cool to room temperature. Place a colander or fine sieve into a larger bowl. Push the berries through the colander, using a wooden spoon or potato masher. You want most of the pulp and seeds to stay in the colander. Transfer the puree in the bowl to a small pitcher.