Nothing says “North Carolina” quite like a glass of Cheerwine. Mentioning it to anyone beyond our state borders produces a quizzical look and the inevitable question: “Is it alcoholic?” It’s not, of course; it’s not wine at all, though it certainly is cheery! Produced in Salisbury since 1917, the fizzy drink is named for its red wine-like appearance. There’s no better way to celebrate North Carolina than with a fair-worthy treat whipped up using one of our favorite classic sodas.
These Cheerwine Hand Pies start with a simple, scratch-made cream cheese dough. You are certainly welcome to use premade pie dough from the refrigerated section of your grocery store, but give this dough a try at least once; it’s so easy to work with. A cheery, cherry pie filling offers a sweet zing inside of these flaky hand pies, and a drizzle of pink Cheerwine glaze on top seals the deal. Extend the fun of the North Carolina State Fair right into your own kitchen by making these easy-as-pie treats!
Yield: 8 pies.
For the cheerwine cherry filling:
1 cup tart cherries, fresh or frozen
¼ cup Cheerwine soft drink
3 tablespoons sugar, plus more for sprinkling
1 tablespoon cornstarch
For the hand pie dough:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup butter
3 ounces cream cheese
½ cup milk
½ teaspoon almond extract
1 egg whisked with 1 teaspoon water for egg wash
For the cheerwine glaze:
½ cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons Cheerwine
Prepare Cheerwine cherry filling: Place cherries and Cheerwine in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. After cherries lose considerable juice at about 10-15 minutes, remove from heat. In a small bowl, mix sugar and cornstarch. Pour mixture into hot cherries and mix well. Return mixture to stove and cook over low heat until thickened, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Cover and place in fridge until chilled.
Prepare hand pies: Preheat oven to 425° and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. In the bowl of a food processor, mix flour, powdered sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add cream cheese and butter into flour mixture and pulse about 6 times to cut the fat into the flour. Add milk and almond extract and blend until a loose dough begins to form.
Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Lightly flour top of dough and roll it out to a 12 x 15-inch square. Cut it into about 16 circles with a 3 ½-inch cookie cutter. Reroll scraps if necessary. Spread 2-3 tablespoons of chilled cherry pie filling into the middle of 8 of the circles, leaving at least a ½-inch margin around the edges. Place 8 other circles on top of the filled ones, using a fork to crimp the edges closed. Poke vents in each assembled hand pie. Don’t worry if they look messy and the cherry filling oozes out a bit; they’ll turn out cute!
Bake and glaze: Brush hand pies with egg wash mixture and sprinkle with extra sugar. Bake in the 425° oven for 15-17 minutes, until the pie tops are golden brown. After allowing pies to cool for approximately 30 minutes, whisk together powdered sugar and Cheerwine in a small measuring cup with a pour spout. Drizzle over top of the hand pies. Serve immediately.