Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Cherry Pie for a Monday

Some pies are laborious works of art, showcasing the care and skill of the baker. This is not that kind of pie.

Some pies are delicious and homemade-enough for a Monday. This is exactly that kind of pie.

My wonderful husband took the kids to Hershey Park today without me. It was glorious to be alone in the house for the first time in three weeks. In my silent kitchen, I was able to contemplate the mysteries of life such as ... Why does school start after Labor Day? Why are teenage boys so disgusting? And is August necessary, really?

But then I finished my breakfast and figured I'd better do something already with those squishy sour cherries in the fridge. Lucky thing I have this awesome cherry pitter.

Frucht und Fun! Well, they're half right. Compared to pitting by hand, I guess it's fun. More like Frucht und Schnell, since it cranked out four cups of cherries in about five minutes. Danke Schoen!

If you don't have a pitter like this, then I recommend infinite patience. Or canned cherries.

I bought the Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers for another recipe. Why are they stocked in the cookie aisle? Who would eat these things by themselves? They taste like food from Medifast or Weight Watchers - kind of sweet, but unlikely to tempt you into a second portion. Shouldn't they be with the sprinkles or something?

Deep thoughts, I know. Did I mention there are two weeks more of summer break before school starts? Breathe deeply and bake a pie.

Cherry Pie with Chocolate Wafer Crust
3 tablespoons unsalted butter (45g)
25 chocolate cookies (150g) for crust, plus 6 more cookies for topping
baking spray
4 cups pitted sour cherries (760g)
3/4 cup sugar (150g)
1/4 teaspoon almond extract, optional
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons cornstarch (22g)

8" pie plate, preferably glass

Preheat oven to 325˚ (300˚convection. Melt the butter in a small, glass bowl - just 45 seconds on high in my microwave. Set this aside to cool for a moment.

Pulse 25 cookies in the processor a few times to break up, then add butter and run the machine just a few seconds more to make something like dirt. Press crumbs into pie pan to make an even crust. Bake for 20 minutes, then cool on counter while pitting the cherries.

If you have extra liquid at the bottom of your bowl of cherries, you may want to pour it off here, since it just prolongs the baking time. Or not. Gently stir sugar, optional almond extract, salt and cornstarch into the cherries. Ease cherry mixture into crust, then arrange remaining cookies on top. Return to oven for 45-65 minutes, setting on a baking sheet to catch any drips. Sorry for the non-specific baking time, but the water content of sour cherries is pretty variable. It's done when you tilt the pan and see minimal liquid rolling around.

Cool on the counter for at least half an hour before slicing. Makes 8 smallish slices, or infinite zero-calorie forkfuls.

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