On Cherry Pie Filling

Ingredients do not recognize national boundaries -Iron Chef Michiba

Fusion requires a strong culinary foundation, taking into account local products and showing restraint in applying twists, otherwise confusion results (paraphrase)                                                                                                                                             -Iron Chef Morimoto, Boston University cooking demo/lecture, 10 Oct 2007

In continuing my explorations in cooking, I was thinking about how to turn some fresh cherries into a dessert.  I had some leftover commercial graham cracker tart crusts and started thinking cherry pie. Now I started thinking about making cherry pie filling.  But how to make a cherry pie filling that I could call my own?  After browsing about the web, I noticed most versions used lemon juice, sugar, and cornstarch.

Now I started thinking about applying two twists – first, replacing the sugar with the monkfruit sweetener being used at the Matsuhisa/Nobu restaurants and second, replacing the lemon juice with yuzu juice.  After looking back to my cooking notes going back to Feb 2007, I realized I needed to use a little restraint on the substitution of yuzu in place of lemon.  So I settled on the following microbatch recipe:

pitted/split cherries, yuzu juice, monkfruit sweetener

portioning out the sweetener into the saucepan

  • 1/2 lb pitted cherries (this would require between 22-28 cherries)
  • 1 T + 1t water
  • 1/2 t + 1/4 t + 1/8 t  yuzu juice
  • 2 t cornstarch ( + 2t water in a slurry) (this would turn out to be 1 T starch + 3 T water)
  • 1 T + 2 t +1/4 t + 1/16 t sugar/monkfruit sweetener

Adding in the ‘splash’ of yuzu juice

…and a little water to help cook down the cherries

So it would appear that I would have to cook down the cherries, water, yuzu juice and sugar over medium heat for about 10-15m to

initial heating rendering out cherry juice

render some cherry juice and to dissolve the sweetener.  Once the mixture was cooked to where the cherries were cooked and

bringing the cherries to heat for 10-15 minute cooking

softened, I’d make a slurry of the cornstarch, take the sauce pan off the heat add the slurry in and let the whole thing thicken.   At that

cherries cooked down and ready for thickening

point, I could take it off the stove, let it cool a bit to set and then fill the tart shells.

readying the starch thickener

As it would turn out, I would need an additional

starch slurry ready

3 tablespoons of water to get the texuture/consistency.

After adding the thickener – it quickly congealed and needed a little more water to loosen

Once I got it off the heat to cool to room temperature, I moved the pie filling to a glass container to store before dinner.

At the end of dinner, I pulled out the leftover graham cracker crusts and the pie filling and scooped about 3 – 4 tablespoons into the

ahhhh, dessert

graham cracker tart crusts.  Taking a taste of the dessert, both my wife and I agreed that it was nicely sweet. However, if I were to make the filling again, I think I would pull back on the sweetener by half if the cherries were sweet enough.  I’d imagine I’d use the full amount if the cherries were in the tart/sour category.

I’m actually pretty glad I tried this exploration since I imagine I could use the same strategy to ease the preparation of a blueberry tart.

Other possible application of this recipe would be to fill wonton/gyoza wrappers, fry them until crisp golden brown and then dust them with confectioner’s sugar.  Garnishing that dessert might be with a scoop of either vanilla or ginger ice cream.  One other possibility would to take this ‘pie filling’, freeze them into spheres for use as a core of a ‘jelly’ sata-andagi…… wow.

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