Archive for: cherry pie
Rice pudding is a dish that is typically served quite plain. If anything, it is usually flavored with a vanilla and topped with a little bit of cinnamon. It rarely gets dressed up. This is because rice pudding is known as comfort food, the kind of dish that you enjoy on a quiet night by yourself at home, rather than the kind of dish that you serve to guests. Like vanilla ice cream, however, a good rice pudding can be a blank canvas that you can put all kinds of flavors on. This Cherry Pie Rice Pudding is just one example of how to dress up a simple rice pudding and turn it int a company-worthy dessert that is still comfort food.
Cherry Pie Rice Pudding starts with a little bit of homemade cherry pie filling, made on the stovetop. The filling is divided into dessert cups and then vanilla rice pudding is layered on top of it. The cherries and vanilla blend well together, and it can be served warm or cold, depending on your preferences (and how patient you are before digging in!). It’s an easy dessert to make, but because of the dramatic color contrast, it is always impressive when it is served.
This rice pudding starts out with rice that has already been cooked or steamed. You can use plain, leftover rice from Chinese takeout (I always make rice pudding with leftover takeout rice!) or boil some yourself in water. Either way, let it cool down before using it. I typically use frozen or jarred cherries – I prefer sweet, black cherries when I have a choice – for the cherry portion of this dessert, as they have a great flavor. Frozen cherries do not need to be defrosted, and jarred cherries only need to be drained before using.
Pie wouldn’t be pie without a little bit of pie crust. I didn’t want to make a whole pie crust just to garnish my pudding, though. Instead, I garnished each dessert with a piece of graham cracker. The cracker lends a little bit of crunch and definitely evokes a graham cracker crust here. Plus, it gives each cup a very nice finished look.
For every person who would pick apple pie as their favorite, there is another person who would pick cherry as their top choice. They’re probably the two most popular pie flavors out there. I have seen many variations on apple pie over the years, but I find that I see cherry pie variations much less often. A classic cherry pie is a double crust pie, sometimes with a lattice crust over the top. If apple pie can get a variety of flavors and toppings to mix it up, so can cherry pie, and that is what inspired the creation of this Cherry Crumble Pie.
This pie has a filling made with sweet cherries and brown sugar, and is topped with a buttery brown sugar crumble topping. The brown sugar adds a certain richness to the cherries and brings out some of their darker berry notes. In the crumble, it also makes for a lovely deep brown color after the pie has baked. I added a splash of vanilla and a splash of amaretto to the filling, as well. The filling for the pie is thickened with cornstarch and there is just enough in with the juicy cherries to ensure that the filling holds together and slices cleanly when the pie is ready to be served.
I used a homemade pie crust for this recipe, but you could easily use a premade (frozen) crust if you prefer not to make your own crust. The filling and the topping pack in a lot of flavor so, while a buttery homemade crust is definitely a nice finish, you can get away with using a shortcut here and still get a lot of flavor in your pie. You can also opt for either fresh cherries or frozen cherries for this filling. I like fresh, sweet cherries for a pie like this one, though tart cherries can make the filling really pop. If you use frozen cherries, don’t defrost them before adding them to the filling, just toss them with the rest of the filling ingredients and add them to your crust.
I find that homemade pie fillings are always the best fillings, but there are some good, gourmet pie fillings out there these days and I like to keep my options open by giving them a try. These gourmet pie fillings can be good when you need a filling fast, but they’re even better for dishes, like quick fruit cobblers, and ice cream sundae or oatmeal toppings. If you get a good one, with high quality ingredients, they can definitely be worth it. Over the holidays, I tried Trader Joe’s Apple Pie Filling and recently picked up these Streamline Fruit Toppings & Fillings in Apple & Cherry. These carton-packed fruit fillings are imported from Denmark (I picked them up at Cost Plus World Market) and they’re made with all natural ingredients, with lots of real fruit. The most appealing thing about them was that the ingredient list only had things that you would put into a real pie filling: fruit, sugar, thickening agent (pectin, though I typically use cornstarch or flour in my pies) and a little citric acid.
The apple pie filling was good, but didn’t have quite enough large pieces of apple in it to make it a favorite of mine. It was not too sweet with a great apple flavor and no spices to cover up that real fruit. You could really tell that they opted for tart Granny Smith-type apples when making it, which made it seem very fresh. I could see using it as a topping for oatmeal or ice cream, but it simply needed more pieces of apple to make it into one of my apple pies, even though the flavor was good.
The cherry pie filling, on the other hand, was very good and had plenty of cherries it in (50% cherries, by weight). The cherries were also not too sweet, and had a dark black cherry flavor. The syrup that accompanied the cherries was silky smooth with a nice consistency. Again, I liked the fact that no extra spices or flavors were added so that the filling tasted very fresh. I’d definitely consider this one for a pie filling or keeping a few in the pantry for an easy-to-make fruit crisp.
Once you have double crust pies down, the next step in pie-making mastery is to learn to do a lattice top crust. Fortunately, lattice crusts are much easier to make than they look. They bake up the same way as an unlatticed crust (so no need to worry that the baking time will change) and give you a sneak peek at what the filling inside that pie is going to be.
First, roll out your pie dough as you would for a regular crust, making a large circle of dough that is slightly larger than the pie plate. Then, take a knife or pizza cutter and slice the crust into 8 or 10 long strips. It doesn’t matter how many strips you make; you can make the lattice with as little as four strips and as many as 20 if you want a very fine lattice. Fewer strips will be easier to work with at first.
Lay one of the strips vertically at the left hand side of the pie. Lay another strip horizontally along the top side of the pie. The horizontal piece will sit on top of the vertical piece.
As much as I love pie, I don’t like to compromise on the qualities that I think make up a great one. For instance, I think a pie has to have a good crust that is a blend of flaky and tender. I also think that that crust should be well browned when it comes out of the oven, not pasty looking. And when it comes to cherry pie, I absolutely do not want a filling that is all goopy and full of more cherry jelly than cherries! That might make me a bit picky, but it also makes me someone who has great cherry pie.
This is my very favorite cherry pie recipe. The pie is made from scratch with fresh cherries and, although you can try refrigerated crusts and use jarred cherries in this recipe, I think that everyone who likes pie should make it from fresh, sweet cherries at least once. The cherries are pitted and tossed with a mixture of sugar and cornstarch to ensure that their juices thicken and that the pie will hold together nicely after slicing. They are put into a pie crust-lined pie plate and topped off with a second layer of pie crust to make a beautiful, double-layer pie. The pie is simple, with just a few ingredients in the filling and a few in the crust, and you can’t beat the flavor of the finished product. It is just sweet enough to really be bursting with cherry flavor, and there isn’t any of that cherry goop to get in the way of the actual berries.
Wait until the pie is close to room temperature before slicing into it because that will give the filling enough time to thicken. This pie slices neatly to reveal tons of cherries between a crisp, flaky crust made with a blend of vegetable shortening (nonhydrogenated) and butter. I latticed the top of the crust, but you can put down a full pie crust and simply cut a few vents, too. The baking time will not change. I’d recommend serving it with vanilla ice cream, but this one doesn’t need a single thing besides a fork!