There were quite a number of years when I was younger that I wouldn’t eat cherry pie, despite always having loved it.
My last piece before my break with the dessert was while sitting at my grandparents’ dining room table.
“You know,” my cousins told me. “Those aren’t cherries. Those are baby animal hearts.”
I immediately dismissed them as liars, and they argued with me a bit before running off to whatever little boys do, and I stared at my half-eaten piece of pie, knowing they were lying but also not being 100 percent sure I should keep eating.
I love my cousins dearly, but I feel like I should get some kind of restitution for avoiding Grandma’s cherry pies for a few years. I suppose the restitution can come now that I’m tattling in newsprint almost 30 years after the fact. (You are reading this, right Grandma?)
Despite my early run in with cherry pie, I’m now back on the wagon and tried a new recipe for a family get together—no baby animal hearts included.
I liked this recipe, because it uses cherries packed in water instead of corn syrup, so they don’t taste quite as candied as they sometimes do. (Although it was still plenty sweet.)
I found this on the blog “Artful Parent” by Jean Van’t Hul. Jean claims this is the best cherry pie ever. I can’t vouch for this statement, but I did really like it. You can find the original at https://artfulparent.com/best-cherry-pie-recipe-ever/. I doubled the almond extract in mine.
- 3 14.5- ounce cans pitted dark cherries in water
- 4 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 2 9- inch pie crusts refrigerated
- Combine the undrained cans of cherries along with the cornstarch, sugar, salt and almond extract in a large saucepan.
- Bring the mixture to a slow simmer over medium-low heat and stir regularly for about 10 minutes until the liquid is thick.
- Set aside.
- Once the mixture is cooled down, preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
- Roll out the bottom crust and place into a pie pan, making sure it hangs over the sides a bit for crimping.
- Pour in the cherry mixture and roll out your top crust. Place it on top and either cut some vent holes or weave a lattice.
- Trim and fold under the edges of the crust and crimp to seal them.
- Bake for 20 minutes and then reduce the heat in the oven to 375 degrees. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until the crust is browned and the cherries are bubbling. (The author suggests putting a foil-lined baking sheet underneath in case it drips into your oven, which is a great idea.)
- Let the pie cool for a few hours so the cherries can thicken up before you cut into it.
- Store in an airtight container.
We cleaned up this pie pretty quickly, and I noticed my cousins didn’t shy away from grabbing a piece, too, so maybe they got over their fears of what’s actually in cherry pie.
Of course, my abilities will never compare to my grandma’s pie baking skills. There’s always something better about hers. It’s definitely not some sort of animal parts, but I do think she puts a lot of heart—and love—into each one she makes.
This piece first appeared in print on June 7, 2018.
Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas and sponsored by Main Street Co. & Kitchen Corner in Newton, Kan. Visit their website at shopmainstco.com.