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Courtesy Ken Haedrich, dean of The Pie Academy

Little Cherry Pies with Mascarpone Whipped Cream

Yield 4-5 mini pies

Whether you're making these for your Valentine... looking for a delicious pie to make with frozen cherries...or you have a quart of fresh cherries just begging for your attention, these little pies are just the thing. And you'll adore the creamy mascarpone whipped cream topping.

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Prepare the Graham Cracker Crust mentioned above. Be sure to make the crumbs good and fine. (The crumbs are hard to pack if they're too coarse.) Once the mixture is prepared, press some together between your fingers. It should pack easily. If not, add a teaspoon or two of milk and rub it in thoroughly to moisten the mixture so it holds together.
  2. Divide the mixture evenly between 4 or 5 mini pie pans or jumbo muffin cups - read accompanying post - pressing it firmly against the bottom and sides of the cups. Make the shell walls about 1/4-inch thick. Refrigerate for 10 minutes while you preheat the oven to 350°.
  3. When the oven has preheated, place the shells on the middle oven rack and bake for 8 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack and cool thoroughly.
  4. Make the filling: Put the cherries in a medium saucepan, cover, and slowly heat them until they come to a simmer. Add the sugar, orange juice, and lemon juice. Cover and simmer 2 or 3 minutes, until quite juicy.
  5. As the fruit simmers, blend the water (or juice) and cornstarch in a small bowl, then stir into the fruit. Bring the fruit to a low boil, then cook at a low boil, stirring nonstop, for 1 1/2 minutes, until thick and glossy. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Scrape the fruit into a pie plate or dish and cool thoroughly. 
  6. Make the mascarpone topping: get out the bowl you're going to make the whipped cream in and chill it for 10 minutes. Add the mascarpone cheese to the bowl. Using a hand held electric mixer, beat the cheese for a minute on medium-low speed to loosen it up. It will probably stay clumpy as you beat. Gradually add the heavy cream while you beat; the mixture will thin out. Once all the heavy cream is added, increase the speed and continue to beat until the mixture forms soft peaks. Stop the machine and add the confectioners' sugar and vanilla. Continue to beat just until the mixture forms stiff peaks. Do not overbeat or it will begin to curdle. Refrigerate until needed. 
  7. To assemble the pies, spoon some of the cherry filling into each pie shell. Mound the whipped cream on top of the filling, or pipe it on with a pastry bag, then serve. 

Notes

To make a graham cracker crust, add 3 cups coarsely-crumbled graham crackers to a food processor. Add 2 tablespoons sugar, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Process to fine crumbs. Transfer to a bowl and add 5 tablespoons melted unsalted butter. Mix it in with a fork, then rub it until the mixture is even and packable. If it doesn't pack when you press it between your fingers, add 1 to 2 teaspoons milk and rub that in until the mixture packs. NOTE - If you're starting with packaged crumbs, simply add 2 cups of the crumbs to a bowl and proceed as above. 

Recipe by The Pie Academy at http://thepieacademy.com/little-cherry-pies-with-mascarpone-whipped-cream/