It wasn’t until I began my life as chef that I understood that cherry pie is supposed to be made with sour cherries, not the sweet ones we pop into our mouths like candy. Why? Because sour cherries boast more flavor. Unfortunately, the season for sour cherries is very short, roughly two weeks a year.
And then there are those darn pits. Sweet or sour, you have to pit cherries. But you have to pit more of the sour ones to fill up a pie because they’re smaller than the sweet variety. Back in my restaurant days, I’d have a prep cook do all the pitting. On my own now, developing recipes for home cooks, I reach for the sweet cherries, adding lemon juice and lemon rind to tart up their flavor.
There are of course plenty of kitchen gizmos for making easy work of pitting lots of cherries. I’m partial to the kind that does double duty as an olive pitter. If you don’t own one of these little wonders, the best method is to whack the whole cherry with the side of a chef’s knife, after which the pit slides right out.
As mentioned, I kissed off the usual pie crust in favor of phyllo dough, but I kept some of the butter, which adds flavor and crispiness.
Finally, as advertised, these pies aren’t served by the slice. Rather, they are mini-pies, each the size the size of a muffin cup and served one per customer. Still, it turned out that a single cup was a little too mini, so I flipped the tin over and draped the phyllo squares on the backside, not the inside, of each cup. Now there’s ample room for those cherries.