Cherry season will be here soon enough, but if you have a jar of Dark Morello Cherries hanging out in your cabinet and want to put them to good use, here’s a basic cherry pie filling and topping.
You can use this for many things including a free-form cherry tart, which is what I made yesterday. They’re not exactly gorgeous, but free form tarts are tasty, don’t require a pie dish, and go well with vanilla ice cream. I’ve included the tart recipe in the notes.
Dark Morello Cherries in Pie
If you’d rather make a pie than a tart, you can make a cherry crumb pie using one crust or make a double crust with a lattice like the one in the picture. Be sure to use a relatively shallow pie pan, since this recipe yields a pretty small amount of filling. The pie in the photo below was made with a shallow 9 inch metal pie tin.
Where are Morello Cherries?
I have not seen the Morello cherries at Aldi, Trader Joe’s or Lidl lately, so I will probably start substituting the ones I have seen which are Marco Polo pitted sour cherries that come in the 24 oz jar. Those should work just fine, and will update when I do a test. Hopefully the Morellos will come back. Update 12/22 — Aldi has them again!
Dark Morello Cherries Pie Filling
- 1 jar Dark Morello Cherries (24 oz)
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar (65-70 grams)
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- Pinch of salt
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 teaspoon of lemon juice (I've been using much more lately) I use up to a tablespoon sometimes
- 1 teaspoon of butter optional
- 1 1/4 cups 5.8 oz pastry or all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 8 tablespoons very cold unsalted butter
- 4-6 tablespoons of ice cold water or more as needed
- 1 egg mixed with about a tablespoon of water or milk
- Drain the cherries, separating the juice and the cherries. You should have 2 cups of cherries and well over a cup of juice. Measure out exactly 3/4 cup liquid (that’s all you’ll need).
- In a large saucepan (2-3 quarts), combine the sugar, cornstarch and salt. Add the 3/4 cup of cherry juice and stir until smooth. Place saucepan over medium heat and whisk or just stir until mixture boils, thickens and becomes translucent.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the drained 2 cups of cherries, almond extract, lemon juice and the butter (if using). Chill until ready to use.
- For sauce, you can leave out the butter, but if you are using the filling in cherry tarts or pies, the butter gives the filling a little more body.
Free Form Cherry Tart (Two Small or One Large)
- In a mixing bowl , mix together flour, sugar, and salt.
- Cut the butter into bits or grate it with a cheese grater and scatter it over the flour.
- With a pastry cutter or your fingers, mix until coarse.
- Add cold water a few tablespoons at a time and stir, pushing all dough toward the center, with a heavy duty scraper until dough holds together.
- Press into two tight balls (or one large one if making one large crostata), wrap in plastic and chill for at least half an hour or until ready to use.
- To make a small to medium size tart, set one section of dough on a floured surface. Let it sit at room temperature just until it is soft enough to roll.
- Roll into an 8 inch square and transfer to a parchment lined rimmed baking pan. Spread a thin layer of egg wash over the circle. Spoon about 1 cup of the cherry mixture in the center of the circle, leaving about a 2 inch border. Bring borders of circle up and over the edge of the perimeter of the cherries so that the crust covers just part of the cherries and pinch the edges. It will look like a square, but the edges will probably come apart a little during baking.
- Brush crust with more egg wash and sprinkle with sugar if desired. Bake at 425 degrees F for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool for 30 minutes to an hour before serving.
Hooray! Thanks, George. I’m glad you were able to find the Morello Cherries. For a few months before Christmas I couldn’t find them at either Aldo or Trader Joes, but it seems they are back.
I followed the filling recipe exactly and it is perfect. It went into a pie with a crumb topping. My go to recipe now!
I hope they come back! I think Aldi still has them. Any brand should do so long as it is the same size package.
It is now November 2020 and Trader Joe’s No longer carries Morello Cherries. What brand should we now use??
I’m so glad you liked it, and thanks for sharing the bake temps and time for frozen pie shells. That will surely help others! I may add it to the notes.
Great pie. First time to make a cherry pie. Of course i was using frozen pie shells.
The baking instructions for the pie was not on recipe. So i baked 425 degrees for 15 minutes. Then reduced heat to 375 degrees for 30 minutes.
I had a couple jars of Morello cherries and happen to find this recipe and am glad I did. I doubled the recipe and it was delicious. I did add a little vanilla with the almond extract. I had to make a gluten free crust but it was pretty close to your recipe. It is a great recipe. Thank you.
Marci @ Stone Cottage Adventures
I made this today and it is delicious! Thank you for the recipe! -Marci @ Stone Cottage Adventures
I’m so glad it worked out for you. And thanks for the tip about rolling the dough! I’ll copy it and add it to the recipe.
I made this crostata with a jar of Morello cherries from Aldi. It was outstanding. Followed the recipe exactly except used my food processor to make to dough for the crust. Turned out perfect. One tip would be to roll out both dough circles before you fill them. That way you can divide the cherries evenly. I did one first and shorted it on filling then the 2nd had too much… Live and learn….
Thank you for your thorough response. I will proceed exactly as you suggested.
You have pleased my whole Thanksgiving family group; I just know it!
Great question! In fact, I just baked a pie using the filling. Here’s a link to the most recent recipe.
This particular pie has a crumb topping rather than a second crust, so it comes together pretty quickly.
Now if you just wanted to wing it and build you own pie using this filling, my advice would be to use an uncooked pie crust, fill it with the cherry filling, top with a lattice (if not using a crumb topping) and bake at 375 degrees for about 40 minutes on a preheated cookie sheet. Also, if the pie is deep dish or anything larger than 9 inches round, you might need to double the filling.
The tart sounds wonderful. How do I adjust this recipe for pies? Do I cook the (homemade) pie crust before filling it and cooking it (at what temperature).
Thank you for your assistance,
Cool! I will look for that chocolate if and when they come to town!
Good luck getting an Aldi. They have really good prices on eggs, milk and produce. They also have inexpensive but good chocolate bars called Choceur.
Anna, that’s right, I do remember hearing something like that! Thanks for reminding me! We are probably getting an Aldi’s nearby soon, so I will check out my favorite Trader Joe’s products there (their semisweet chocolate chips, sun-dried tomatoes, and some cheeses that are my favorite brands, and of course these cherries…
Sonya, I think Aldi owns Trader Joe’s or the family that owns Aldi owns both. I’m not sure, but they are related and some of the products are similar. I love both stores.
We don’t have an Aldi’s yet, but cooks Illustrated tried a bunch of cherries in pie and found that the Morello cherries from Trader Joe’s were the best. They didn’t mention Aldi’s which perhaps are the same or similar? Anyway, they are tasty!
I got these at Aldi, but I think they are pretty much the same as Trader Joe’s.
are these the cherries sold by trader joe’s?
Agreed! I didn’t need any food coloring, though. I used the ones from Aldi and they liquid is already bright red.
Yes – these are some of the best cherries you can use for pies! They hold up extremely well under baking, taste great, plus you don’t need to pit any cherries! If desired to improve the color, you can add a drop or two of red gel food coloring.