This may be the wrong time to make this proclamation but I am not Cherry Pie’s biggest cheerleader. All too often the gloopy, gloppy slices of America’s favorite leaves me wishing for something else. Of course I want to celebrate summer like everyone else and take advantage of cherry’s all-too-short season and that’s when I turn to cherry pie’s rustic cousin, the free form galette. And to the cherry pie lovers out there, go easy on me!
Perhaps a galette, the flat, hand-formed and beautifully irregular pie, hides my inadequacies as a proper pie baker. But I’ll never tell. But what this cherry galette does that a pie cannot is take the best of summer’s brightest cherries and let them shine in a simple, delicious crust. It’s simplicity in its greatest form, a flavorful yet unfussy dessert that requires minimal effort yet delivers great flavor. And don’t think that I’m going to sit on the sidelines while you eat that glossy slice of cherry pie with vanilla ice cream; I’ve paired this cherry galette with a cool scoop of mascarpone, the Italian soft creamy cheese with only a kiss of sweetness. And to dress up my humble dessert I might even add a quick sprinkle of freshly cracked black pepper to the mascarpone. Don’t knock it til you try it. The black pepper adds a dimension to the creamy topping and pairs wonderfully with the sweet taste of cherry. And then there’s that buttery crust thing which always tastes good with pepper.
Premade refrigerated pie crusts work just fine for this recipe. About the only work you’ll need to do involves pitting fresh cherries. I know I know, it’s not the quickest of tasks but it’s not difficult. And it’s a task you can only do once a year, something that I remind myself of each time I look at my stained fingers. It’s totally worth it.
¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ½ lbs fresh cherries, pitted
1 tablespoon amaretto liqueur like Disaronno
1 refrigerated pie crust
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon whole milk or half and half
Preheat oven to 375˚. Roll out dough on a lightly floured work surface to roughly an 11-inch circle. Transfer the dough to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Mix the pitted cherries with ¼ cup sugar, salt, and liqueur. Spoon the seasoned cherries over the dough and leave a 2-inch border. Drop pieces of butter over the cherries and fold the edges of the dough over, pressing lightly. Whisk the cream or milk and the egg yolk together and lightly brush the edges of the crust. Sprinkle with the remaining tablespoon of sugar and then bake for 40-45 minutes. Ovens will vary, bake until golden. Top each serving with a dollop of mascarpone and a sprinkle of black pepper.