When we first moved to Winnipeg I was excited about the change in landscape, not just because of the scenery but because of the way the landscape influences the food its inhabitants eat. It’s not a far drive from downtown to get into flat-flat-farmland, and the city in general seems supportive of local producers. Locally grown and milled wheat and specialty flours are available in every grocery store, along with an array of squash, and seasonable vegetables. The first time I had a local potato I was floored – it was the best gd potato I’d ever eaten. The apples (which grow not only in orchards but also on the patch of grass behind my office) are perfect units of tartness, not to mention the crabapples and saskatoon berries, which jelly up nicely.
But it’s winter now, and I’m looking out the window at six inches of packing snow, and suddenly craving the summer/autumn fruits of southern Ontario, aka Home: peaches, cherries, nectarines, plums, and grapes. Fruits that are perfect eaten in-hand, fermented into wine, or baked into any crumbly, cakey, or crispy delight. So, unwilling to shell out $40+ to buy the imported versions of these fruits, I headed to the freezer aisle and grabbed a few bags of frozen dark cherries.
The resulting pie, a Black-Bottom Cherry Pie, really leans into its wintry nature. Making the filling from scratch and using dark cherries leaves little resemblance to store-bought taillight-red pies, and the dark chocolate base adds a creamy richness that is perfect for battling a chill (chocolate increases circulation, right?), while adding apple cider vinegar to the filling helps that tangy juiciness along. I’ve given two versions of the crust, and leave it up to you which one you choose, as I love them both equally. The Classic Buttery Crust is rather heavy on the Earth Balance (although you could substitute a homemade vegan butter no prob), and heavy on flakey perfection. The Gluten-free Almond press-in crust is nutty and just slightly sweet, with a texture that can really hold its own. This recipe makes a safe (ie: generous) amount of both filling and ganache, so if you’re using a smaller pie plate you may end up with a little extra (not to worry, the ganache is perfect poured on a cake or even rolled into a truffle, and the filling is great on toast or a spoon).
The classic pie crust with apple cider vinegar was inspired by this recipe.
- 8 cups (or 1200g) frozen dark cherries
- 1 1/2 cups organic cane sugar
- 1/2 cup cornstarch or arrowroot powder
- 2 tbsps apple cider vinegar
- 2 cups chopped dark chocolate
- 1 cup coconut cream (from a can of full-fat coconut milk)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 3/4 cups flour
- 3 tsps organic cane sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 3/4 cups Earth Balance
- 1/2 cup shortening
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 tbsps apple cider vinegar
- 1 1/2 cups ground almonds
- 1 cup brown rice flour
- 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
- 4 tbsps maple syrup
- Mix water, vinegar, and a few cubes of ice to get the liquids very cold. Mix together dry ingredients in a bowl, then cut in Earth Balance and shortening until the mixture resembles coarse sand with some larger edamame bean-sized clumps as well. Sprinkle in water and acv mixture and stir to incorporate, adding just as needed until the dough comes together. Divide in two discs, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for an hour or longer.
- Preheat oven to 425F. Liberally flour your work surface and rolling pin (I'm not kidding around, this is a relatively humid dough so you'll need that extra flour). Roll out to a circle that is larger than your pie plate, at 1/4" thickness, then place in your pie plate and flute/crimp edges as desired. Parbake until crust is lightly coloured, about 15 to 20 minutes (see notes). Let cool.
- Preheat oven to 350F. Mix the dry ingredients, then pour melted oil and syrup and work until the dough comes together into a ball. Press into a tart or pie pan. Fully bake the crust for 13-16 minutes, until firm and golden (see notes). Let cool.
- In a large pot over medium heat, stir together all ingredients except arrowroot/cornstarch. Simmer until the cherries are fully thawed and have released juice and the sugar is dissolved. Add in cornstarch and stir until thickened (if the cherries were particularly juicy, you may need to add up to an extra 2 tbsp of thickener). Let cool.
- In a double boiler, melt chopped chocolate. Once fully melted, turn off heat and add in salt and coconut cream.
- Pour the ganache into the prepared crust, spreading into an even layer. Pour the cherry mixture on top. If using the gluten-free crust, you're finished! If using the classic crust, roll out the second disc of chilled dough, and form a lattice (or braid, or full covering) on top. Bake at 425F for a second time until both crusts are fully cooked, another 20-22 minutes.
- Best enjoyed cooled.
- When parbaking a crust, first poke the bottom with a fork a few times for steam to escape, then place a piece of parchment paper over the inside of the crust and weigh it down with dried beans specially made pie weights, to prevent the crust from puffing up. If you don't want to top the pie with a second crust, as with the gluten-free crust, fully bake the bottom crust before filling and skip the second bake.