Cherry and Amaretto Pies

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A crisp, buttery sweet shortcrust pastry which encases a delicious almond frangipane and boozy cherry filling.

Mince Pies – some people love them, others hate them. For me personally, the make or break of a mince pie comes down to the quality of the pastry. I enjoy those which have a short, crisp mouthfeel but still feel luxuriously buttery. I do not want any of that biscuit-type crumbliness.

Do not be intimidated by making your own pastry – there are a few key steps, none of it difficult but all of it important. My go to pastry-making book is by Julie Jones, The Pastry School. You will not need another pastry book in your life. I have adapted Julie’s base recipe to my personal preferences, but most of the method remains hers.

Whilst the pastry is important, it is also what is on the inside that counts (wink wink – see what I did there!). Often fruit mince pies are not well-spiced and taste generically goopy and sweet, which is disappointing. I also know countless people who hate currants and raisins, which make up the bulk of a mince pie filling. Cherries are currently in season, in South Africa, and they also feel very Chrismassy, so I thought to make a pie based on that.

Now, what is Christmas without a splash of brandy or a dash of rum – this is often found in fruit cakes. I regularly see the pairing of cherry and Amaretto and thought that this would be there perfect time to marry the two flavours – and what a pairing they are! Having tested this recipe a few times, I have found the alcohol bakes off quite easily, so for optimum flavour, you want to soak these at least overnight. I prefer not to challenge these flavours with the addition of spices, but you can possibly include some spice if you like. Perhaps a grating of nutmeg?

I hope you are sold on how good these pies are and are now dashing off to the shops to gather your ingredients. But if not, how about I raise you an almond frangipane base filling?! To compliment the almond-flavour of the Amaretto (which curiously is not made from almonds) I have decided to add a frangipane to the base.

At a stretch, one may almost think of this as an inverted Bakewell tart, with a frangipane base and jammy filling on the top. You can obviously leave out the frangipane if you want, but I do think you would then need to increase the filling to at least 1.5x the recipe. Though I have not tested this, so difficult to be sure.

I really do think this is a special recipe and one to try out these holidays. I hope that you enjoy them as much as I do and they become a festive baking staple.

If you make this recipe, please share it with me by tagging me on Instagram @adventureswithsugar or on Facebook at Adventures with Sugar.



  • 250g of fresh cherries, unpitted and cut into eights.
  • 50g dried cranberries
  • 50g candied citrus peel
  • 100ml Amaretto
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 20ml lemon juice
  • 20g cornflour
  • 60g caster sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract


  1. Place the cherries, cranberries and citrus peel into a bowl and pour over the Amaretto. Cover with cling wrap and allow to sit overnight in the fridge (if not longer) to allow the cherries to soak in the flavour.
  2. On the day you are going to make the pastry, before doing so, add the remaining ingredients to the fruit and Amaretto, toss well to coat and place again in the fridge to macerate. This draws out some of the liquid from the cherries to prevent a soggy pie.
  3. Once you are ready to fill your pies, drain out all the liquid from the cherries into a medium, shallow pan. Set the fruit aside for now.
  4. Cook the juice on medium heat until the mixture begins to thicken and become like a jam consistency.
  5. Add this back to the strained fruit and toss well to combine. By cooking down the liquid separately from the fruit, the cherries are still kept as distinct pieces rather than turning into mush.
  6. Fill as instructed in the rest of the recipe.


  • 200g cake flour
  • 30g ground almonds
  • pinch of salt
  • 50g icing sugar
  • 125g fridge-cold butter
  • 1 egg yolk, keep egg white for sticking pastry
  • 1.5 – 2 tablespoons milk


  1. Place the flour, ground almonds, salt and icing sugar into a food processor and pulse a few times to combine.
  2. Place the butter in and pulse a few more times. This will be about five to six pulses. You just want the butter to look like large, irregular breadcrumbs.
  3. Add in the egg yolk and milk and pulse until the mixture looks fine and bread-crumb like.
  4. Tip onto a clean surface and use your hands to bring together, until the pastry just holds.
  5. Divide this into two equal portions, pat to form a disc and place in the fridge for an hour to chill.


  • 50g ground almonds
  • 50g butter, room temperature
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond essence
  • 1 large egg


  1. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  2. Add in the remaining ingredients and cream until a paste-like filling is formed.
  3. Set aside until ready to use.


  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon milk, to wash
  • 1 tablespoon demerara sugar, optional


  1. Lightly grease a 12-hole standard size cupcake tin with some baking spray.
  2. Roll out the pastry to about 3cm thickness and use a circular cookie cutter to cut out circles which are about 2cm wider than the diameter of your cupcake tin. Place these into the cucpake tin to form the case, neatly trimming away any excess.
  3. Then cut out the lids, to fit over the top. These can be a bit thicker, about 4cm pastry thickness.
  4. Pipe a later of frangipane onto the base of the tart and them top generously with the filling. You want it to be slightly heaped.
  5. Use the egg white to brush the pastry lids on the underside, to glue them to the pastry cases and seal the pie with the lid.
  6. You can use a pastry cutter to cut a little hole in the middle of the lid (if you are doing this, do it before sealing the pie) or make a little x on the top of the pie to allow steam to escape from the pies, so that they do not leak.
  7. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees celcius.
  8. Please the pies in the freezer for 30 minutes to firm up.
  9. When ready to bake, combine the egg yolk and milk together to make a wash. Brush over the pies.
  10. Sprinkle some demerara sugar for some additional crunch.
  11. Bake for about 20 – 30 minutes, until the pies are looking golden brown.
  12. Let cool in the tins for about 10 minutes to let the pastry rest, before removing and allowing to cool completely on a cooling rack.

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