Hand jive, hand pies, doin’ that crazy good sour cherry hand pie

While we do host both felines and poultry, Gourmandistan does not have a cat named Way-Out Willie, or a cool little chick named Rockin’ Billie. We’ll let others do that hand jive all over town. We’ll keep scarfing sour cherry hand pies down.

We spotted sour cherries at the market a while back, and once again bought every last remaining carton from the farmer. Steve sat down and made an afternoon out of pitting cherries, reserving most of the fruit for jam, However, he did see the wisdom of turning some over to Michelle for a nice round of hand pies, something she wanted to prove a point with.

The last time Michelle made sour cherry hand pies (an adaptation of an adaptation, apparently originally from Martha Stewart and New York pastry chef Karen DeMasco), they were delicious but the filling turned out a wee bit bland. Adding a bit of kirsch, a little fresh rosemary and a pinch of salt, this year the pies came out just about perfect.

The small, sweetly crisp pies were very enjoyable just out of the oven, and for Michelle at least a day or so afterward. (Steve enjoyed the pies for a few more days, along with some leftover filling mixed into his morning yogurt.) We most likely won’t see sour cherries for another year. But when we do, we’ll definitely divert some more cherries so we can do the hand pies.


  • Servings: 20 or so small pies
  • Print


  • 1-1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. granulated sugar
  • 12 TB (1-1/2 sticks) chilled butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 c. very cold water

Place dry ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Add butter and pulse several times until butter is incorporated (with pieces the size of small peas as is always said).

Add half the water and pulse. Add the remaining water and pulse more, stopping when mixture begins to hold together in clumps. If mixture is still too dry, as it may be, add more cold water a little bit at a time, until dough barely holds together.

Turn dough out onto a floured work surface (a piece of waxed paper works well) and press together with your hands. Divide dough in half, press into flattened ovals and wrap each half in waxed paper. Refrigerate for at least 45 minutes.

Sour cherry filling:

  • 1-1/2 TB butter
  • 1 lb. pitted fresh sour cherries
  • ½ c. granulated sugar
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
  • 1 TB + 1 tsp. cornstarch
  • ½ tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tsp. kirschwasser (cherry brandy)
  • Pinch of kosher salt

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add cherries with their juices, sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice. Simmer, stirring, until sugar is dissolved. Transfer a few tablespoons of the exuded cherry liquid into a small bowl, add cornstarch and stir to combine. Add rosemary to cherry mixture and keep simmering until cherries are tender but still are holding their shape, about 8 minutes. Stir in cornstarch mixture and boil, stirring, for a couple of minutes until thickened. Stir in kirsch and pinch of salt. Transfer filling to a bowl, cover and refrigerate.


  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Demerara sugar

Preheat oven to 375° F with a rack in the middle. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Roll out one of the dough disks to about 1/8” thickness. Cut with a 3” round biscuit or cookie cutter. Spoon about 1 teaspoon of cooled cherry filling into the center of each piece of cut dough. Fold each over, then use a fork to seal its outside edge. Repeat until baking sheet is full, with pies about an inch apart. Place filled baking sheet in freezer for a few minutes.

Brush pies with egg wash. Use a sharp knife to make three vents into the top of each pie, then sprinkle with Demerara sugar.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until browned. Repeat, using remaining dough and filling.


  1. This is definitely a keeper. I have a sour cherry tree in my backyard and every summer it is a mad race between me, the squirrels and the starlings to pick the crop. There’s usually lots for everyone and I even manage to freeze some for making cobbler in the dead of january. Who’d have thought to put rosemary in pie filling. I can’t wait to try this.

    • Too bad. I bet they don’t grow out there. I think they’re more of a European/Canadian/Eastern US thing. So good for pies and such. The season is very fleeting here. I think they do better in more northern climes, like Michigan. But, don’t feel bad: we never get an artichoke unless from California!

  2. Those look YUMMY! I love cherry season but I don’t remember ever seeing sour cherries for sale here. And now I’ll have the Hand Jive in my head for days . . .

  3. good recipe + never seen fresh sour cherries here in London and I have to use frozen ones. it will give it a try (maybe mixing frozen sour cherries and fresh sweet cherries)

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