Saturday, December 26, 2015

Cherry Pie Bites

Slicing and serving a big fruit pie can get a bit messy.  Not only messy, but it seems as if equality in the slice is never achieved. One person gets more crust or streusel and another gets more filling.  To curb all of those issues, I found a recipe for the cherry pie bite.

This is a tassie with a pie filling. When I started this project, it was based on me having cream cheese in the refrigerator. I soon found out I had none. However, I still had some goat cheese from the last baking session,so I decided to substitute it for the cream cheese. It worked out quite well for the dough.

I do not make pies all that often, but I was surprised that the only spice in these little treats is nutmeg. Streusel usually has cinnamon, which I like, but the nutmeg/cherry flavor combo is a now also a hit in my book. This recipe made about 2 dozen, but be sure to anticipate that each person will eat at least 2.

Cherry Pie Bites
adapted from BH&G 100 Best Cookies

3 oz cream cheese or soft goat cheese
1 cup flour
1/2 cup butter, cubed

2 tbs chopped, toasted walnuts or pecans
1/8 tsp of nutmeg
2 tbs flour
2 tbs brown sugar
1 1/2 tbs butter

2 tsp cornstarch
1/3 cup sugar
2 cups fresh (pitted) or frozen (unsweetened,pitted, thawed) cherries

For the crust, beat the cream cheese (or goat cheese) for about 1 minute. Continue to beat, dropping in the cubes of butter. Once all the cubes are in, beat for an additional minute. Then fold in the flour with a spatula, forming a smooth dough. Divide the dough into 24 equal pieces and shape into balls. Place each ball into the cavity of an ungreased mini muffin pan (1 3/4 inch cavity size). Press each ball in the cavity to form a shell, covering the base and up the sides. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

In a small bowl, mix together the flour, nutmeg, nuts and brown sugar. Using the tines of a fork, cut in the butter until the dry ingredients can be clumped together like sand. Set this streusel mixture aside.

The last component of this dessert is the filling. Start by placing the cherries and sugar in a saucepan.  Then sift in the cornstarch. Place the pan over medium heat. Stir the ingredients together and let cook. The mixture should cook until it becomes the thickness of honey. You should be able to scrape the back of the spoon onto the edge of the pan and have it leave a streak. Remove from heat.

Fill each cup with a heaping teaspoon of the filling until all crusts look like fruit pies and no filling remains. Then sprinkle the streusel evenly on top of the little pies.

Place in oven and bake for 25-30 minutes. Pans should be rotated halfway through the baking time. Bites are done when crust is crispy and streusel turns a golden brown. Let pie bites cool in pan on rack for 5 minutes. Then transfer to rack to finish cooling.

Tips and Notes:
1. I grated my nuts for the streusel, so the nuts would be evenly distributed in the topping.
2. I used non-stick mini muffin pans, so I cannot comment on the recommended ungreased pans.
3. Be prepared for the filling to run a little bit over the cavities, but it will not run over the pan into the bottom of the oven.
                         **LAST YEAR:Graham Chocolate Chip Muffins**