This tangy, smooth crimson pie with a crumbly, cheesy crust is one of our favourite desserts. Because it is so easy to eat more than one piece, we make it in individual serving dishes to help ward off temptation. Not sure if that’s really working…
I got the idea for this pie from two memories tucked in my head long ago. Tourists who came to the area I lived in would always want pie, but they would ask for an addition that I thought was plain weird: a thick slice of cheddar sitting atop warm, bubbly pie. Later, flavoured cheesecakes became all the rage and I realized that fruit and cheese really were made for each other. When this pie bakes, the kitchen smells like cherry cheesecake. When you eat it, it’s even better than cheesecake because you don’t feel like your stomach has been tied to an anchor afterwards!
In the fall, I pick and freeze the cherries from the tree in our backyard. When the cherries freeze, they release their juices and become surrounded by zesty cherry-pink ice crystals. That’s key for this recipe – if you are using fresh cherries, you might want to try stewing the cherries to get some juice or adding 1 cup of flavourful liquid.
Four cups of cherries will go into the saucepan over low heat. All I want is for the ice crystals to melt so that I can separate the cherries from the juice.
I leave the still-cool cherries in the saucepan and drain their juice into a bowl.
To make the pie filling:
- 2 Tbsp corn starch
- 1/2 tsp almond extract
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
2. Add the mixture to the cherry juice. It will look cloudy and pink.
3. Add the cloudy juice back to the saucepan where the cherries are waiting. Turn on the heat to medium and stir constantly.
You’ll know that you are almost done stirring when the liquid becomes clear again.
4. When it starts to boil, keep stirring for a minute or two and then remove the pie filling from the heat.
To make the pie crust:
1. Grate enough cheese to get a generous cup of shredded cheese. Grate enough butter to get about 1/2 cup of butter. Add 1 cup of flour.
2. Get your hands in there and combine the ingredients until there is a crumbly dough that looks kind of like shortbread cookie dough:
If using 8 individual dishes, spoon 2 heaping tablespoons of crust mixture into each dish. If you have a pie plate to use instead, put 16 tablespoons of crust mixture in. There will still be a lot of crust mixture in the bowl – this is for the top crust, so just set it aside for now.
3. Use your fingers to gently push the crust up the sides and across the bottom to evenly cover the dish about 2/3 of the way up.
Spoon the cherry filling into the crust until it is just slightly higher than the crust.
Spoon about 1 1/2 Tbsp of the reserved crust mixture over the top of the filling.
Bake the pie(s) at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 1/2 hour. When they come out, you’ll see that the cherry pie fill has bubbled up around the edges – no burnt pie crust edges here!
While it is enticing, wait for the pie(s) to cool before you eat them so that the corn starch can help thicken the filling inside. See ya – got pie to eat! 🙂