Cherry Turnovers with Homemade Cherry Pie Filling | The Rising Spoon

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Cherry Turnovers with Homemade Cherry Pie Filling

An easy recipe for cherry turnovers with a flaky, buttery puff pastry crust and a simple homemade cherry pie filling naturally sweetened with maple syrup.

Cherry Turnovers with Homemade Cherry Pie Filling

Early this spring I watched Twin Peaks for the first time on Netflix and fell in love with the show's mix of quirkiness, cheesiness, and abstract ideas. Shortly thereafter, I found out the third season would be airing soon on Showtime. 

Ummm...what are the chances?! I just happen to watch the series 25 years later and shortly thereafter I find out about its continuation. How serendipitous.

After watching the original show + the movie (Fire Walk With Me) and now the new season, Twin Peaks: The Return, I developed a mad craving for cherry pie. Heck, any good fruit pie. I mean, how could you not? Coffee & pie are running motifs on the show and mentioned so often that they're practically unspoken characters. Hence my previous post about how to make cold brew coffee. ;)

Since I have no experience with pie crust, I did a search for local places where I could get high-quality pies. You know, the kind with from-scratch crusts and fillings that aren't too sweet. Fruit pie is actually one of my favorite things in the world (like BBQ ribs) and has been since a child. 

Unfortunately, a lot of grocery stores & restaurants take shortcuts and use canned pie fillings that are overly sweet & syrupy (high fructose corn syrup is usually one of the main ingredients). Since reducing my overall sugar intake and switching to mostly unrefined sweeteners, those don't taste good to me at all. I'd rather pass on them and wait for the good stuff.

Well, I found a legit place with ahhh-mazing pies (see here for Instagram photographic evidence) but they were $6 a slice and $40 for a whole a pie. Ouch. I was only one slice in and already wanted to drive back the next day for another. My pocketbook would not like that.

Fresh Cherries For Homemade Cherry Pie Filling & Turnovers

Cherry Pie Filling = SO Tasty & SUPER Easy to Make at Home

So, I decided to go to explore the homemade route. I remembered running across a homemade cherry pie filling recipe in one of my food blogger Facebook groups a while back and thinking "Wow, this looks so simple! I can definitely make this at home". 

I used that as a jumping off point and then consulted my handy dandy Joy of Cooking book. I found the recipe for Fresh Cherry Pie and settled on that filling with some tweaks to sweeten it naturally with maple syrup and bump up the flavor a bit with lime juice + zest.

I decided to get 3 lbs. of cherries to make a larger batch of the filling all in one go since I don't make this type of thing often, fresh cherries are only in season for summer, and I could easily freeze the rest for later. Makes sense, right?
Then came the crust. I made the executive decision NOT to use pie crust since I haven't found any all-butter frozen pie crusts near me (and I'm not quite ready to attempt homemade yet - I hate mucking things up and wasting ingredients). 

Fresh Cherries For Homemade Cherry Pie Filling & Turnovers

Puff Pastry Crust = Easy Alternative To Pie Crust

So, my next thought was puff pastry. Two of my local grocery stores sell this all-butter brand and supposedly Trader Joe's has one in the winter months (I haven't been able to find it). I've worked with frozen puff pastry before for my 
cast-iron skillet chicken pot pie recipe (that is an old post from 2012 when I first started blogging so please ignore the picture quality) so I felt comfortable trying it with a sweet filling.

I really liked the idea of mini hand pies filled with fruit (I grew up eating the peach, apple & cherry ones they sold individually wrapped at the store), but again didn't want a pie crust. 

Then I remembered turnovers existed with their flaky, buttery puff pastry crusts. Eureka!! Turnovers are seriously heavenly. And pretty much a bigger, better version of toaster strudels (if you're into that kind of thing).

Naturally Sweetened Homemade Cherry Pie Filling
I again consulted the Joy of Cooking for turnover recipes to make sure I didn't muck anything up (it never hurts to double check) and was ready to make some damn good fresh cherry pastries. 

Honestly, the hardest part of the process was finding cherries that weren't super sweet. Cause apparently that's the popular thing here in Dallas.

I went to six, yes count 'em SIX different grocery stores in one day in lovely Saturday afternoon everyone-and-their-brother-is-on-the-road-trying-to-run-errands-traffic trying to find fresh sour cherries to no avail. Thankfully, I was able to do a taste test and found one that wasn't labeled sweet.

Cherry Turnovers with Naturally Sweetened Homemade Cherry Pie Filling

Psssst...Cherry Pitting is Cathartic

After that, the rest was a breeze. I stood over my counter pitting cherries for a little bit with my metal wine stopper trying not to get cherry juice on all the things but still managing to fling it all over my backsplash and utensil holder. It was quite cathartic. Same as working with fresh beets. There's something about getting red fruit or veggie juice all over your hands that is both amusing and disturbing. 

Then the cherry pie filling came together super quick on the stove and I couldn't resist eating it straight from the pan while it was still hot. Oh my gosh it's sooo good! I had a hallelujah this-is-what-pie-filling-should-taste-like moment.

I still have half the filling in my fridge right now and am debating about freezing it for more turnovers or using it in overnight oats or on top of some ice cream.

Cherry Turnovers with Puff Pastry Crust & a Homemade Cherry Pie Filling

Homemade Pie Filling Trumps Store-Bought 

And I have to mention that over the years many home cooks have fallen prey to the heavy advertising from processed food companies that says their pre-made version is better, faster & equal to the made-from-scratch stuff when really that couldn't be further from the truth.

Lots of homemade sauces, dips, dressings, and fillings are insanely easy and quick to make but we've lost that knowledge and/or become accustomed to ready-made foods.

I love convenience just as much as the next person, but there are so many things we can make at home with better quality ingredients that will save us money and taste a million times better. Pie filling is one of those things!

Puff pastry crust, on the other hand, is a food that's totally worth getting pre-made. Especially when it has all-butter as the fat instead of shortening or vegetable oil. One day I'd love to make it myself but until then...I don't have to waste any ingredients attempting to get the dough just right. 

Cherry Turnovers with Puff Pastry Crust & a Homemade Cherry Pie Filling

Resist The Urge To Overfill the Cherry Turnovers

From here, putting the turnovers together with frozen puff pastry that's been thawed is quick & easy, but don't be like me and try to stuff as much filling as possible into each one. I always do this with breakfast burritos & fail miserably. 

I know it sounds appealing, but the filling will spill onto the edges (making it difficult to seal) then leak out during baking and the dough won't rise quite as high. Yes, it'll still taste good and look extra rustic, but if you want that awesome balance of semi-sweet filling with multiple layers of flaky buttery goodness, you need to keep the filling in check. This is what happened to mine when I got all excited so I wanted to forewarn you. :)

Either way, after only a bit of easy prep + wait time (for the dough to chill & the turnovers to bake), you'll be rewarded with the mostly heavenly pockets of sweet (but not too sweet) cherry goodness mixed with layers of buttery flaky crust.

These cherry turnovers are perfect with a cup of damn fine coffee in the morning or afternoon or hot decaf coffee or tea in the evening as dessert. And watch an episode or ten of Twin Peaks while you're at it. You'll enjoy the cherry pie cherry turnovers even more. 

And then when cherry season inevitably ends and the cold weather starts rolling in, you can switch to pumpkin muffins and pumpkin pie milkshakes instead.

Warning: This batch only makes six turnovers, which will go FAST. If you don't care about having extra pie filling to freeze for other recipes, I would buy 3 packages of puff pastry and you'll have enough filling to make 18 or so turnovers.

Yield: 6 turnovers + extra filling

Cherry Turnovers with Homemade Cherry Pie Filling

prep time: 1 hour and 15 MINScook time: 30 MINStotal time: 1 hours and 45 mins
An easy recipe for cherry turnovers with a flaky, buttery puff pastry crust and simple homemade cherry pie filling that's naturally sweetened with maple syrup.


  • For The Cherry Pie Filling:
  • 6 1/2 cups of fresh cherries* (approx. 3 lbs.)
  • 1/8 teaspoon of sea salt (like THIS)
  • 1/2 cup of real maple syrup** (like THIS)
  • Juice + zest from 1 lime OR lemon (about 1 tbsp juice + 1 tsp zest)
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract (get my homemade vanilla extract recipe here)
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons of cornstarch
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons of cool purified water
  • For The Turnovers:
  • 1 package of frozen puff pastry, thawed overnight in the fridge (I used THIS all-butter brand - Note: You can use 3 packages of puff pastry if you want to use up all the filling)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon of purified water
  • *You can substitute frozen cherries if they're out of season; however, these will likely produce more juice as they thaw so you may need to cook them longer to reduce the filling.
  • **Adjust this amount up or down depending on the type of cherry you're using & your preference for sweetness. If you are using sweet cherries (like Bing) you may be able to use less, and if you're using sour cherries, you may want to increase this to 1 cup.
Recommended Equipment


  1. For The Homemade Cherry Pie Filling: Wash and dry the cherries, place in a large bowl (to contain the messy juices), and remove the stems and pits. You can use a chopstick, frosting tip, or wine stopper as a makeshift cherry pitter by gently sticking it in the top of the cherry and pushing into the pit/seed until it pops out the other side. Discard all stems & pits, then pour the cherries + juices (I had about 1/4 cup) into a large skillet. Add the sea salt, maple syrup, lime juice + zest, and vanilla extract. Stir and turn the heat to medium. Let the cherries cook for about 5-6 minutes or until they start to release their juices and the mixture is steaming, but not boiling.
  2. Meanwhile, measure the cornstarch into a separate bowl and then slowly stir in the water until the cornstarch is completely dissolved. Set this aside until the cherries are juicy and steaming. When that happens, give the cornstarch slurry another stir, pour into the cherries, and mix well. Stir frequently, bring the mixture to a simmer, and then cook for about 1-2 minutes, or until the juices start to thicken up and turn slightly glossy. This will happen very quickly, so don't walk away. Immediately remove from the heat and let the cherry pie filling cool for about 20 minutes so you can use it in the turnovers. (Note: This recipe makes a little over 2 cups of filling, which is enough to make at least 18 turnovers in one go, but I prefer to freeze the leftovers for future baking adventures. You can also make the filling a few days ahead of time and store in the fridge until you're ready to bake.)
  3. For The Cherry Turnovers: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and sprinkle a large cutting board or clean counter with flour. In a small bowl, beat 1 whole egg with 1 teaspoon of water to create an egg wash and set aside. Quickly unwrap the thawed puff pastry and spread it onto the floured surface. Cut the dough into six equal squares or rectangles using a sharp knife or pizza cutter. (Note: If you want the pieces equal sizes you may have to cut off an inch or so of the dough. You can save this for other baking projects or discard.)
  4. As soon as you cut the dough, transfer the puff pastry pieces onto the parchment paper. If the dough is getting too soft/sticky (this can happen if your kitchen is warm since it's an all-butter dough), transfer the baking sheet to the freezer for 10 minutes or so to cool down.
  5. Spoon about 2 heaping tablespoons of the cooled cherry pie filling onto the bottom center of each dough piece, making sure to leave at least a 1/2 inch rim around the filling for sealing the turnover. (If you overfill them like I did, the cherries will spill out during baking and the sides might not puff up as much. Don't worry, they'll still taste good.)
  6. Using a pastry brush or spoon, lightly coat the three edges of dough around the cherry filling (bottom & two sides) with egg wash, then fold the dry top part of the dough over the filling (hence the name turnover) and line up the dry edges with the egg-washed edges (no need to be perfect). Use a fork to press down & seal the three edges of the dough for each pastry. Lightly coat the tops of the turnovers with more egg wash, and cut 2-3 small slits into the tops of each one using a sharp knife. Place the baking sheet in the fridge to rest for 30 minutes.
  7. In the last ten minutes of cooling, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Bake the turnovers for 30 minutes or until the tops are golden and the dough is fully cooked through. As noted on the back of my puff pastry box, if the pastry puffs in the oven but collapses as its cooling, that means it's undercooked & needs to bake longer. Let the turnovers cool a bit on the baking sheet and eat while still warm. Store any leftover turnovers and cherry pie filling separately (you will have plenty left unless you double or triple the puff pastry) in tightly sealed containers in the fridge and consume within 4-5 days or freeze for later.
Created using The Recipes Generator
Adapted from the Joy of Cooking's Fresh Cherry Pie and Apple or Pear Turnovers + Instructions on the back of the Dufour Puff Pastry Box & Inspired By Let's Dish Recipes' Homemade Cherry Pie Filling

An easy recipe for cherry turnovers with a flaky, buttery puff pastry crust and a simple homemade cherry pie filling naturally sweetened with maple syrup.

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