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Cheries and almonds are cousins that make a great Roli-Boli

When I tried to research Roli-Boli online, a closed restaurant in New Jersey topped the list. Beyond that, franchise opportunities abounded, albeit I could only imagine that they might indeed be for the eponymous defunct project.

No, the only Roli-Boli that I had ever heard of is that made by my mother-in-law for family gatherings and special days. It might be a Baltimore thing for all that I know, but it is delicious all the same.

A Roli-Boli is a fruit pie made without the pie pan, so as you can imagine an impromptu rim of aluminum foil could be in fashion as the filling oozes from the crispy-cooked crust. You do not need to have the rim but it doesn’t hurt.

My mother-in-law traditionally makes blueberry Roli-Boli but as black cherries were available, cherry it was. As my youngest and I pitted the cherries, it looked like a blood-bath reminiscent of working with beet juice (that’s about as tasteful as I can make it. It looked gruesome). With cherry stains to last for a couple of days on our fingers, it was time to make the filling.

As I went through all of my various recipe sources (notebooks, cookbooks, internet, family collections, et al) I noted that many recipes for cherry pie included almond extract. I was aware of this pairing but had never stopped to wonder why.

When I found out why, it made more sense than I had imagined it would. As members of the Prunus Genus of trees and shrubs, the cherry and almond are first cousins.

Find it odd? Well, this is where it really made sense for me. Years ago, I read a tidbit of nonsensical (not so much now) trivia in Mr. Boston’s Barkeep Guide in which the originating flavoring agent of Di Saronna was exposed.

Di Saronna is the magical almond-flavored liqueur of which many cooks are so fond for its flavor. Yet, it is not that of almond; rather, the liqueur is derived from apricot pits, apricot being another tree of the same genus. I love it when a plan comes together.

If you want to really spruce this Roli-Boli up, and I’m thinking about this after the fact, you could top it with raw candied almonds as you put the pie-shine on for the last 20 minutes and you’ll add yet another layer of flavor to this cherished cherry dish.

Since my wife likes her dough to be a touch undercooked and gooey, and I’m becoming the same way, that’s the way that I cook it. Of course, proper cooking is to take it a step further, but that’s entirely up to you. As the top of the Boli will be the thickest part, check here for doneness.

As I look back on this dish I realize that I’m ready for another piece, one that I should not have. But I know that I will; but, maybe it’s time to fire up the ice cream machine. I could really go for that stracciatella.


Fresh Cherry Roli-Boli

1 batch Pie dough (recipe follows)

4 cups (after cleaning) of fresh black cherries

4 Tbsp. Tapioca flour

¼ c. water

1 Tbsp. Lemon juice

1 tsp. Vanilla extract

2 tsp. Almond extract

1 tsp. Salt

½ c. Sugar

Cinnamon (optional)

Preheat oven on the bake or low convection setting at 375F

Roll the dough out into a rectangle until it is approximately 1/8-inch thick

Combine the remaining ingredients and let sit for at least 30 minutes

Place the filling in the center of the dough and carefully wrap it like a neat little package, pinching the seams at the top while leaving some vent holes for steam to escape

Bake for 20 minutes and then remove from oven.  Brush with some pie shine which is nothing more than half-simple syrup and half corn syrup.  This gives the crust a lovely sweet crispy bite when it is done

Turn the boli and place back in the oven for another 20 minutes, or until all of the filling is cooked through.  Don’t worry, the first couple of times that you make this it will be a bloody mess, but that only means that you’re doing it right!

Remove and let cool.  Serve with vanilla ice cream, or as in the picture, with chocolate chip ice cream.  A good homemade Stracciatella ice cream would be perfect with this as well.  


Pie Dough

7 oz. King Arthur AP flour

4 oz. Whole butter, unsalted

1 tsp. Salt

1 tsp .Sugar

ice water as needed

Combine the first four ingredients in a bowl ensuring that the butter is cut into chunks and still cold

Working quickly, rub the flour into the butter as though you were dealing poker chips

If you want a flaky crust, leave little sheets of butter in the dough.  If you want a mealy crust, keep going until it resembles cornmeal

Add just enough water to bring the dough together, but do not overwork.  If you do, you stand the chance of making a tough pie crust

When it barely comes together, press it into a ball and wrap tightly in plastic wrap for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator.  An hour is perfect

Use as instructed in your favorite fruit pie recipe