Guests (at least mine) seem to appreciate PIE at a potluck, but traditional pie can be messy to serve, especially for children. These little "two bite" beauties are perfect. This recipe makes 24 pies, but the recipe doubles easily.
1/2 cup butter (room temperature)
3 ounces cream cheese (room temperature)
1 cup flour
Mix with electric mixer (I use my stand mixer with paddle attachment) until you get a smooth dough. Wrap it in plastic and chill for about an hour (will also keep well in fridge for several days).
(1) 14½ ounce can tart pie cherries packed in water
3/4 cup granulated sugar (divided)
2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon corn starch
pinch of table salt
1/4 teaspoon almond extract (do not leave out)
1 teaspoon butter
Drain the cherries, reserving the liquid. Pulse the cherries in the food processor until fairly well chopped then drain again (I even press on the cherries a little to remove excess liquid): set aside.
In a saucepan, combine 1/2 cup of the reserved cherry juice, HALF of the sugar, the cornstarch and a pinch of salt. Whisk till smooth and bring to a boil. When this mixture gets super thick (it will happen FAST once it starts to thicken), remove from heat and stir in the rest of the sugar, the chopped cherries, the almond extract and butter. Stir until well mixed; let cool while you form the crusts.
Preheat oven to 375°. Cut the chilled dough into 24 pieces and roll each piece into a ball. Place one ball in each mini-muffin cup (no need to grease the pan).
Now, you have to use your fingers and push the dough across the bottom and up the sides of each mini-muffin space. Better yet, if you have tart tamper or something similar, this step will go MUCH faster (just dip it in a little flour between each use). I use the rounded end of the wooden tool that came with my Kitchen Aid meat grinder, it works absolutely perfectly. Try and get the crust edges just a little taller than the edges of each muffin cup (see 2nd photo).
Fill each mini-crust 2/3 full of the cherry filling. Bake at 375° for 20 minutes on the TOP RACK of your oven. When the edges of the crust are light golden brown, they are done.
Don't try to remove the cooked pies from the pan right away. The filling stays hot for a while, so let them cool for a good 25 minutes or so. You can use a butter knife to help "lift" the pies out of the pan.
BETTER YET: line the mini-muffin pan with mini-cupcake papers and that should solve any/all problems.
Delicious and FUN to Serve!!