I started thinking about ideas for this month’s “Sweet As Pie” Sweet Adventures Blog Hop right about the time I offered to make a sweet treat for a friend following the Paleo diet. So, in my mind, it made good sense to try and kill two birds with one stone. Well, in theory, yes, but hey, it turns out that pie recipes free of sugar, flour and dairy (and anything else a caveman didn’t eat) aren’t all that easy to come by. Who knew?
Luckily, I wasn’t the first to come up against this challenge and after a little research I found what seems to have become the standard Paleo friendly pastry recipe, made primarily of ground almonds. Making a decision on what filling to choose was easy when I was greeted by trays of big, juicy Lebanese cherries in the fruit shop the next day. They were a deep, dark red and super sweet so didn’t need much additional sweetening.
They were also the most perfectly formed cherries I have seen in a long time, just screaming out to have their picture taken. You won’t be surprised to hear that when it came to choosing a tin, I was immediately drawn to some mini loose based tins I got for my birthday (if you’re new to the blog and aren’t familiar with my ‘mini’ obsession you can read about it here, here and here). Obsessions aside, mini tins are also a good way of encouraging portion control if you are following a diet but still want to treat yourself every now and then.
Although I have never been the dieting type I am naturally inclined towards healthy eating and will generally opt for healthy alternatives if given the choice. That said, in some cases I would rather just go all out and really enjoy something rather than going for a healthier option and being left feeling disappointed and unsatisfied.
Thankfully with these little pies you don’t have to compromise. Having sampled quite a few now (for recipe testing purposes, of course) I am confident that they can be enjoyed by all and definitely don’t fall into the category of tasteless diet food. Being gluten and dairy free they are a great dessert choice for those with intolerances and if you’ve got a super sweet tooth you can always add a little extra honey to the filling.
INGREDIENTSFor the crust:
I used Elana Amsterdam’s recipe here but I halved it. To do this you need to split the egg: crack 1 egg in a bowl and lightly beat using a fork to break up the yolk. Add half to the crust mixture (I used digital scales to weigh out half) and keep the other half for the topping.
If you’re using scales, a cup of ground almonds weighs about 130g.
For the cherry filling:
350g fresh cherries, pitted (or 300g pre pitted cherries)
2 tbsp water
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp ground arrowroot powder (not essential but thickens the syrup)
50g sliced almonds, crushed
Pre heat oven to 180ºC/350ºF.
Make the pie crust following Elana’s instructions here - see above regarding the egg. My pastry didn’t form a ball in the food processor so I just turned it out on to a clean surface and moulded it into a ball by hand.
Cut the pastry into 4 equal pieces (I rolled it in to a thick sausage shape and cut it in to four then used scales to check each piece was about the same size) and push into tart pans – mine measured 11cm x 6 cm. Take your time with this step making sure the pastry is an even thickness all the way round as if the edges are too thin they will burn.
Bake the empty pie crusts in the oven for 14-16 mins or until they are a light golden brown. Keep a close eye on them after about the 12 min mark as they change colour quite quickly – I burnt mine the first time and undercooked them slightly the second time! When you bring them out, the surface should feel a bit crisp so if it’s still soft put them in for another minute or two.
Mix the ground arrowroot with the water and add to a small pan with the rest of the filling ingredients. Simmer on a low heat for about 10 mins, stirring occasionally, until the cherries have softened but are still holding their shape and some syrup has formed.
In a bowl, mix the topping ingredients together and set aside.
Fill the pie cases with filling and then generously sprinkle over the topping. Bake for 15 mins or until top is golden brown, turning half way through. Allow to cool before carefully transferring to a plate.
This post is part of the Sweet Adventures “Sweet as Pie” Blog Hop hosted by KC from Capers of the Kitchen Crusader. If you’d like to join the hop, click here for instructions. To see other entries in the hop, click on the thumbnail images below. Learn more about the Sweet Adventures Blog Hop here.