Put a Cherry On Top

31E947BKaiLMy husband and I have a joke about pies – fruit pies that is. Years ago, when he had his wisdom teeth removed, we were walking through the grocery store to pick up a few things, including his prescription when we walked past a cart filled with those cheap, individual pies – the kind that were about the size of half a sandwich.

“Foo pie,” he said with a mouthful of gauze.

“What?” I asked, not understanding

“Foo pie. I ant suh foo pie.”

So last week when we were walking through our local grocery store and he announced “Apple pies! I want some apple pie! Should we get one?” I initially thought he was being silly. But no, he was considering buying a pie, filled with all the ingredients he can’t have. I told him I could make him a homemade pie that was within the boundaries of his diet, and we left without the pie.

Now, I have made him a gluten-free dairy-free chocolate pie a few times, which he loves, but I thought this time around I should probably make a fruit pie (foo pie, if you have a mouthful of gauze). So when I walked through the doors of Whole Foods and saw the fresh cherries on display, I knew that cherry pie was what I needed to make. The bonus was not only were they on sale, but because I have Amazon Prime, I got an additional discount.

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Pitting the cherries is a messy business, and can look like a crime scene when you’re done. I highly recommend wearing gloves, and having plenty of paper towel on hand. I don’t have a cherry pitter, because it really isn’t hard to remove the pits – just press your chef knife down on the cherry and the pit pops right out. But the juice will get all over so keep paper towel under your cutting board on your work surface to help keep the juice from making a mess.  I’ve heard you can use a chopstick or a paper clip to remove the pits, but I’ve never tried either method.

*Check out this video from Whole Foods featuring several ways to pit cherries (the first method with the knife is what I do).  How to Pit Cherries

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tart pan with removable bottom

For the crust, you’ll need half a batch of my gluten free pie crust recipe. Generally when I make pie, I use half of the dough, then form the remaining half in a ball and wrap in plastic wrap to store in the freezer. Just pull the ball of frozen dough out of the freezer when you are ready to use it, and allow it to thaw on the counter at room temperature for about an hour. I used a shallow 9 1/2″ tart pan with a removable bottom for this recipe, but you could always use a traditional pie pan, or even a store purchased crust. There is a line of gluten free pie crusts from Wholly Gluten Free that our grocery store carries (found in the frozen foods aisle), however they have palm oil in them, which is an ingredient my husband avoids.

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As far as the filling goes, you can use tapioca starch or corn starch. We use tapioca starch but you have to be careful with it, as it will produce a weird, gelatinous goop if you use too much. I suggest starting with one teaspoon (dissolved in a teaspoon of water), whisk it in, and if it isn’t as thick as you’d like, add an additional teaspoon. Always dissolve your starch in liquid first, then whisk into the warm sauce over low heat to avoid lumps. And, don’t skip the almond extract, as it gives the cherry filling that flavor similar to maraschino cherries. The lemon helps to add just a touch of tartness that cuts the sweetness just a bit.

My husband said it tasted like a “gourmet Poptart.”  Hope you like it!

Cherry Tart (gluten, dairy, and corn free)

1/2 recipe Gluten Free Dairy Free Pie Crust, uncooked and at room temperature
(*see below for recipe)
3 cups pitted fresh cherries (about 1 pound)
2/3 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup water
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
1-2 teaspoons tapioca starch (or corn starch) dissolved in 1-2 teaspoons water

Place the cherries, sugar, and water in a sauce pan. Stir, and bring to a low, slow boil over medium heat, stirring frequently to prevent the bottom from sticking and burning (reduce the heat if the mixture starts to boil too much). Cook approximately 10-15 minutes until the cherries are soft and easily cut or mashed with the back of a spoon. Stir in the almond extract and lemon juice, then whisk in the tapioca starch solution, one teaspoon at a time, constantly whisking over medium-low heat. Remove from heat as soon as the sauce thickens ( this should happen almost immediately). Allow to cool for about 30-45 minutes.

Press the pie dough into a shallow 9 1/2″ tart pan, making it even across the bottom, and coming up the sides of the pan. If the pan is not non-stick, be sure to spray with a non-stick spray first! (I use a non-stick pan with a removable bottom which makes it easy to remove and slice it later). Pour the cooled cherry mixture into the uncooked pie crust, and bake at 375 for 35 minutes. The crust should start to turn a light golden color. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. Store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days (if it lasts that long!)

GF DF Piecrust
2 cups Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 Baking Flour (plus extra for rolling)
Pinch of sea salt
3 teaspoons granulated sugar
½ cup room temp or chilled coconut oil (solid, not melted)
1 egg, beaten
1/3 to 2/3 cup water

Sift flour, salt, and sugar together in a large mixing bowl.  Cut in the coconut oil with a fork or a pastry blender until the mix is crumbly or resembles small peas.  Using a fork, mix in the beaten egg until well incorporated and forming a dry crumbly dough.  Slowly add water, one tablespoon at a time until the dough is no longer crumbly and holds together – be careful, as you don’t want the dough to be too dry, but you don’t want it too sticky either.  Form the dough into two balls; place one in the fridge to use for another pie.  Place the other on a large piece of parchment paper, lightly sprinkle with some flour, and gently roll out the dough into a large circle.  Don’t make it too thin, or it will fall apart.  Gently slide the dough over a glass pie plate and pull back the parchment paper.  Don’t panic if pieces fall apart during this step, simply press the dough into the pie plate and up the sides, forming a nice-looking crust.  Place in a pre-heated 400 degree oven for 15 minutes.  Allow to cool completely.

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