"I don't think any cookbook would be complete without including cherry pie," says Andrea Smetona, author of Easy As Pie Pops. "It's simple yet full of flavor, if executed in the right way. Cherry Tart is one of my most popular (and most famously featured) pie pops, and with good reason. I use sour cherries for that added tart punch, and the signature heart peek-a-boo crust is adorable, fun and easily versatile. Of course, you can use the heart peek-a-boo crust on any of the berry pie pops, but the red cherry heart just fits so beautifully. Bake them with love."
Homemade pie pop crust
You can purchase four unbaked pie crusts and skip this part, or you can make your own with the following recipe.
"As with any great pie, we start with the crust," Smetona says, "I've tried a few different recipes and always keep coming back to this one because it makes a nice even crust without lumps or inconsistencies, which can be an eyesore for pie pops. It's a universal recipe that works for all my vastly differing pops and is hearty enough to keep them secured on the stick (another important quality for pie pops)."
- 5 cups (630 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 4 tablespoons sugar
- 24 tablespoons (340 g) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 1 cup vegetable shortening, chilled and cut into small pieces
- 1/2 cup cold water
- 1/2 cup white vinegar, chilled
- In a food processor, blend 3 cups of the flour, the salt and the sugar until combined — about 2 (1-second) pulses.
- Add the cold butter and shortening and process just until the dough starts to collect in uneven clumps — 10 to 15 seconds (there should be no uncoated flour).
- Scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula and redistribute the dough evenly around the processor blade. Add the remaining 2 cups of flour and pulse until the mixture is evenly distributed around the bowl and the mass of dough has been broken up (typically 4 to 6 pulses).
- Empty the mixture into a medium-size mixing bowl. Pour the cold water and vinegar over the mixture. With a rubber spatula, use a folding motion to mix the dough, pressing down on the dough until it is slightly tacky and sticks together.
- Divide the dough into 2 equal balls and flatten each into a 5-inch circle. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour (or up to 48 hours).
- Once your dough is thoroughly chilled, roll out the dough between 2 pieces of plastic wrap to prevent the dough from sticking to the counter (and your roller). This will also eliminate the need to add more flour. Using a tapered rolling pin will also help keep the roundness in each crust.
Note^ If your dough has gotten too warm or sticky, slide it into the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes until it firms up again.
- 3-1/2 cups pitted fresh sour cherries
- 6 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon Clear Jel, or 10 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1-1/2 cups cold water or cherry juice
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- 6 drops red food coloring (optional)
- 1 large egg white, beaten, for brushing
- Coarse sugar, for garnish
Directions to prepare the filling:
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and grease and flour a large baking sheet.
- Bring 1/2 gallon of water to a boil. Meanwhile, wash the cherries under cold water in a colander, picking out any leaves or stems. Pit the cherries and place in cold water until just covered, with the 4 tablespoons of the lemon juice to prevent browning. Blanch the cherries by placing them in the boiling water and bringing it back to a boil for 2 minutes. Drain the cherries and keep them covered in a large bowl.
- In a large pot, combine the granulated sugar, Clear Jel (or cornstarch), cold water (or cherry juice), cinnamon, almond extract and food coloring. Stir the mixture over medium heat until it thickens and begins to boil. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and, stirring, continue to boil for 1 minute.
- Remove from the heat and fold the berries into the hot mixture, stirring gently. Let cool to room temperature. Transfer the mixture to a food processor or blender and pulse for 4 to 5 seconds. Set aside.
Directions to assemble the pie pops:
- Flour both sides of the 2 pie crusts, then roll flat with a rolling pin. Using a 3-inch round cookie cutter, cut 24 rounds from the dough, 12 for the bottom crust and 12 for the top crust. If doing peek-a-boo, stamp out a heart peek-a-boo from each of the 12 top crusts, using a heart-shaped Linzer cookie cutter.
- Lay out the 12 bottom crusts on the prepared baking sheet. Brush each bottom crust with beaten egg white, using a silicone basting brush. Press an 8-inch (20 cm)-long cookie stick firmly on top of the center of each bottom crust.
- Dispense a 1-1/2-inch dollop of cherry filling in the center of each bottom crust. Place a top crust over each bottom crust and press firmly around the sides only, sealing the filling inside.
- Create a cookie stick dowel by cutting a 1-inch-long piece off the end of an 8-inch cookie stick. Use this dowel to crimp the sealed edges of the pie pop by pressing firmly on each side of the stick first, then move counterclockwise around the edges. This will keep the stick from moving around once the pie pop is baked.
- After each pop is sealed and pressed, carefully brush more egg white on each top crust, except over the filling inside the peek-a-boo opening. Finally, sprinkle the top crusts with coarse sugar.
- Bake the sheet on the center rack of the oven for 15 minutes, until the crust is nice and golden. Then place the individual pops on a cooling rack and let cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.
About the book^ This recipe for pie pops is from Andrea Smetona's book, Easy As Pie Pops. The recipes in the book include Fruit Pie Pops, Savory Pie Pops, Cake Pops and Tea Cakes. You'll find recipes for Pumpkin Cheesecake, Gouda-Broccoli Quiche, Peppermint Pudding, Black Forrest Nutella, S'more, Coconut Cream and more. Andrea also shares tips and helpful hints that she has learned along the way, making Easy As Pie Pops a must-have for anyone looking to make delicious, miniature pastries easily and efficiently.