Cherry Almond Hand Pies are made with flaky cream cheese dough, almond frangipane filling and a dollop of sour cherry preserves. Make you own preserves or use store bought pie filling.
This recipe combines three of my favorite things; pie crust, sour cherries and almond frangipane!
As I discussed in my Cherry Pit Ice Cream post, the kernal at the center of a cherry pit has a natural bitter almond flavor. Because of this, cherries and almonds have a built-in flavor affinity. The two flavors work perfectly together every time. If you love marzipan (I do, I do) then this treat should be right up your alley.
Almond frangipane is a versatile filling. Frangipane can be rolled into croissant dough to make almond croissants. I use this same filling for my Apricot Tartlettes because almonds also go well with apricots. Frangipane is the traditional filling in a Pithivier. You can bake frangipane into a large tart shell and top with fresh fruit for a sophisticated, yet easy, dessert.
A few notes on this recipe; If you want to work ahead you can make the frangipane several days in advance and store it in the fridge. You can even freeze it for a couple of weeks if you really want to get a jump on the recipe. The cream cheese dough can be made ahead and refrigerated for a couple of days, or frozen for a couple of weeks.
I used my homemade Sour Cherry Preserves in the filling. You can use homemade or store bought preserves, or even cherry pie filling.
Once the pies are assembled they should get a 15 minute rest in the freezer to help the dough keep it’s shape during baking and to minimize filling leakage. You can see from the photo what a difference a few minutes in the freezer makes. You could leave the assembled pies in the freezer for a couple of hours or even overnight. No need to defrost them since they’re small. Pop them into the oven straight from the freezer.
Click through the slider to see the step-by-step process for making Cherry Almond Hand Pies:
The pies are best eaten the day they’re baked, but will keep a couple of days at room temperature.
- 1 1/4 cups (6 oz 170g) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (3 oz 85g) cake flour
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon table salt
- 4 oz (1/2 cup) cream cheese, cut into 1" chunks
- 1 1/2 sticks (6 oz, 170g) unsalted butter, cold and cut into 1" chunks
- 1/2 cup cold water
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 oz (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup (about 3 oz) almond flour, or finely ground almonds
- 1/2 tsp almond extract
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tablespoons dark rum
- Sour Cherry Preserves (or cherry pie filling/preserves of your choice)
- 1 egg for egg wash
- Crystal sugar (or granulated/demerarra) for sprinkling
- Whisk together the flours, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl. Toss in the cream cheese. Using your fingers, mix the cream cheese into the flour until it resembles coarse corn meal. Toss the butter into the flour and squeeze the cubes into "flakes". Allow the flakes to break up into slightly smaller pieces.Work quickly so the butter doesn't get warm. Don't break the butter down completely. There should be some large flakes remaining.
- Pour the water onto the flour all at once and toss to combine. Gently work the dough just until it comes together. Form the dough into a rectangle or square, wrap and refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours, or make it the day before and let it rest overnight.
- Cream the granulated sugar and butter together until light and fluffy. Add the egg and mix to combine. Add the almond flour, extracts and rum. Transfer to a small bowl and cover. Refrigerate while you prepare the tart shells.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F convection or 375°F regular. Line two half sheet pans with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
- Roll the dough to an 18" x 18" square, use a bench scraper or ruler to keep the edges square as you roll.
- Mark off 3" increments in both directions. Use a pastry or pizza cutter to cut the dough into 36 squares. Use a small cutter or fork to make steam vents in half the squares.
- Place the other 18 squares onto the sheet pans. Brush the squares on the pan with egg wash, making sure to go all the way to the edges. Pipe or scoop about 1.5 teaspoons of frangipane batter onto each square. Put about a teaspoon of cherry preserves onto the frangipane. Place a top square onto each of the pies.
- Gently pinch together the edges of each pie, making sure they are well sealed. Place the sheet pans into the freezer for 15 minutes to rest and chill the dough (see note). Brush each pie with egg wash and sprinkle with crystal sugar. Bake until puffed and golden brown, about 15 minutes.
A 15 minute rest in the freezer helps the pies keep their shape while baking and minimizes how much filling leaks out (see photos).
You can also make the pies ahead and freeze until ready to bake. Take them directly from the freezer to the oven.
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