Use a medium to large heart-shaped cookie cutter and cut out as many hearts as your dough allows (Tom Conway Photo).

Use a medium to large heart-shaped cookie cutter and cut out as many hearts as your dough allows (Tom Conway Photo).

Made by hand — and with heart

Baking is a great conveyance of love this Valentine’s Day.

Few symbols capture my heart like the heart. There’s no gray area here, no mistaken intent. Whether rendered in a doodle, decal, cookie-cutter, pie plate or box of chocolates, a heart-shaped anything delivers the simple, eloquent, and unwavering message that you are loved, or at the very least, thought of most fondly.

While Valentine’s Day is all about delivering such heartfelt pronouncements in various ways, I rely heavily on my baking bent as a conveyance of my love. (Though I fear the ultimate measure would be my willingness to drive someone to Sea-Tac.) And sure, roses are nice, but hand pies bless your beloved with a batch of sweetness that lingers on the lips like a Valentine’s Day kiss.

Hand-to-Heart Cherry Pocket Pies

1 double-crust pie dough (store-bought or homemade)

2 cups pie cherries (fresh or frozen)

1½ tablespoons cornstarch

½ cup sugar

2 tablespoons melted butter

1 pinch kosher salt (⅛-¼ teaspoon)

¼ teaspoon almond extract (optional)

Dough Prep

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Divide chilled dough in half. Roll out each dough round to ⅛” thickness. Use a medium to large heart-shaped cookie cutter and cut out as many hearts as dough allows.

Combine leftover dough, reshape dough into a round and roll out again. Cut out remaining hearts. Divide the number of hearts in two; half will be the bottom crust and half will be the top crust.

Cherry Filling

Add cornstarch to cherries and mix; next add sugar, salt, extract and mix again. Pour melted butter over mixture and stir to coat cherries. (You can also use canned cherry pie filling.)

Assembly

Bottom dough: place a healthy dollop of cherry mixture in the middle of the heart. Leave edges bare.

Top dough: gently roll the top dough hearts to enlarge their surface area, allowing more coverage when placed over the cherries.

Cover the bottom dough heart and cherry mixture with a top heart cover. Gently press the edges together, crimp to seal.

Placed filled hearts on a parchment-lined baking sheet. (Love can get messy.)

Baking

Brush heart pies with milk and sprinkle white sugar on the top.

Bake at 350 F until crusts brown, and cherries and syrup bubble. Remove and cool.

Hand pies are best if not sealed or wrapped in plastic, which softens the dough.

Throughout year and all its baking seasons, The Beachcomber is pleased to feature photos and recipes from Tom Conway, who has a hearty appetite for growing and cooking good food and putting in a good day on his Vashon Island farm. Bon appetit!

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