These cherry turnovers look like something you spent hours making, but they’re actually a “fake out” dessert to impress family or guests. The triangles of flaky puff pastry with their decadent filling of cherries, almonds, and a quick microwave chocolate sauce are so easy, you can make them any night of the week. This is a cherry turnover recipe that shows there’s no wrong way to make something that tastes good!
Inspired by Martha and Candy
Part of the inspiration for this cherry turnover recipe came from an episode of Martha Stewart Living I watched many years ago where she made chocolate turnovers using squares of very high-quality bittersweet chocolate and frozen puff pastry sheets. Martha was my idol in the nineties — if premade puff pastry sheets were good enough for her, that was all I needed to know. Chocolate turnovers made a lot of dessert appearances when I had company over.
I also happen to be one of the people who likes chocolate-covered cherry cordials, so they were the other part of the inspiration for this recipe.
I like to pair fruits and nuts in my desserts for some texture contrast, which is why I’ve selected almonds for this recipe. They’re purely optional and can be left out for an all-fruit cherry turnover for those with nut allergies.
Fake to Impress
Trust me, I love “advanced cooking” — there’s no feeling in the world quite like nailing the culinary equivalent of a triple back layout. But I’m also very busy, so I’m a huge fan of food that looks and tastes like I spent all day working in the kitchen, but is actually quick and easy to make. These cherry turnovers definitely fall into that category.
You Choose Your Level of Easy
The filling for the cherry turnovers can be created several different ways. They all produce delicious turnovers.
- Canned cherries — not to be confused with cherry pie filling
- Frozen cherries (be sure to thaw completely and drain before using them)
- Fresh cherries (still super easy to make)
No matter what filling method you choose, this will be one of the easiest “fancy” desserts you’ve ever made. They consist of only THREE main ingredients: puff pastry sheets, cherry filling, and semi-sweet chocolate.
I first used puff pastry sheets to make a savory recipe many years ago, so I was already familiar with them when I saw Martha make her chocolate turnovers. I don’t know why it had never crossed my mind to make anything “dessert-y” with them. Sometimes I get pigeon-holed with ingredients and I love those moments when I see possibilities for food I’ve only ever used in a particular way.
What If I Can’t Find Puff Pastry Sheets?
There have been a few times when I couldn’t find frozen puff pastry sheets of any brand in a grocery store (thankfully, not often). If yours doesn’t carry them — or they’re out — you can use refrigerated pie crust to make a more traditional cherry turnover.
NOTE: Just be sure to get pie crusts that are NOT in the metal pie pans because you will need to work with the pie crusts to form your turnovers.
Why I Use Canned Cherries
I could have used fresh or even frozen cherries to make homemade filling to go in these cherry turnovers. But sometimes my inner Martha isn’t feeling it and takes the day off. Plus, every now and then, I like the challenge of making yummy “shortcut” food — it proves my point that as long as it tastes good, you’re doing it right.
I know cherry cordials are usually made with maraschino cherries, but I don’t want to eat a turnover filled with those. So I’ll use a can of dark sweet cherries instead.
And, Of Course, Chocolate
I’m going to make three different chocolate sauces to drizzle over the cherry turnovers once they’re baked. Why three? Because I had bags of semisweet, milk, and white chocolate chips and I thought “Why not?”
(I’d also be lying if I said I hadn’t been thinking about how turnovers with different kinds of chocolate on them would look in photos.)
Use all three sauces or pick the sauce made with the chocolate you like best.
Alternate Versions of Turnovers
If you’ve seen my recipes for Cherry Crumble or Apple Butter, it’s clear that I enjoy having options because I like the flexibility of variations on a recipe to fit whatever ingredients I happen to have. Turnovers are an incredibly versatile dessert with all sorts of possibilities. No cherries? No problem — I just came across a sweet deal on blackberries! No fruit, period? Still no problem because I’ve got a few chocolate bars (or some chocolate truffles from Trader Joe’s) stashed in the pantry.
Of course, traditional pie fruits that pair well with some flavor of chocolate will work as fillings for chocolate-drizzled turnovers. You might not find the easy canned versions, so you’ll have to go the homemade route for those. But you know what? It will be SO worth it!.
Some recommendations are:
You can use all one kind of fruit or a mixture. You can even customize your turnovers so that your family or guests get the turnover with their favorite berries as the filling (yes, that’s a little more work to make tiny fruit filling batches, so that’s something to plan for a night when you aren’t trying to knock this out as a last-minute dessert).
If you’re not worried about a chocolate sauce, there are even more fruit turnover options:
Just because I’m brain-storming here, the idea of a strawberry rhubarb turnover just went through my head. I’ve actually never tasted strawberry rhubarb pie, but summer just arrived where I am and a turnover version sounds awfully good.
Of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t refer you back to the original way I saw Martha make these turnovers — with squares of dark chocolate as the filling. I made those for years and they were always a hit with company. But chocolate comes in other flavors besides semisweet (this one is in my pantry right now), so don’t forget about milk chocolate and white chocolate turnovers.
Other Dessert Sauce Ideas
I ate plenty of dark chocolate turnovers plain or with extra chocolate sauce drizzled on them. But one night I got the idea to create a little flavor contrast by making a pureed fruit sauce to finish the turnovers with. If memory serves it was a raspberry sauce I made and it started a fruit sauce phase for me. Strawberry and raspberry were my favorites, but I also made a very tasty sauce using frozen mixed berries.
Any of the berries listed above would make scrumptious fruit sauces by themselves or as a “combination sauce” (there’s a Marionberry Blackberry syrup we love on pancakes and waffles, so I know those would make a killer fruit puree).
Have fun pairing up fruit and chocolate flavors for turnovers. Off the top of my head, I’m thinking lingonberries or boysenberries with dark chocolate, strawberries or raspberries with milk chocolate, blueberries or blackberries with white chocolate. But create the combination you like for your own unique turnover. Any of these would make an elegant dessert to serve.
You can also make chocolate turnovers and drizzle a caramel or butterscotch sauce over them.
What I do NOT recommend is topping turnovers with ice cream because it will make the pastry soggy. The delicate, crisp layers of pastry are part of what makes this dessert so good. If you MUST have ice cream, your best bet is to serve it on the side to keep the pastry nice and flaky.
Freezing/Storing Cherry Turnovers
I have not had good experiences when I’ve frozen anything savory baked in puff pastry sheets. No matter what, reheating gave me results that weren’t anywhere close to how good the food was on the day it was made. The pastry gets too browned, the layers start falling apart, and the fillings somehow get dried out — “Disappointment on a Plate” is what I call this phenomenon. So I don’t freeze baked puff pastry recipes anymore.
I imagine it would be the same for my cherry turnovers, which is why if you make them in advance of when you plan to serve them (or to store in the freezer for super-quick-and-easy dessert options), do not bake them.
Once you make your cherry turnovers, place them on a baking sheet lightly sprayed with cooking oil, and put the sheet in the freezer. When the turnovers are frozen, wrap them tightly in wax paper, and then store them in freezer bags. They’ll keep for up to two months (But are you really going to wait that long to eat them? Probably not!). Unbaked frozen turnovers can be baked directly from the freezer — no thawing needed.
Ready, Set, Bake!
I love sharing my past experiences and ideas for the recipes I write about, but I always reach the point where I think “Enough talking — let’s get it done!” I’m at that point now. Allow me to walk you through some seriously easy, but very delicious, cherry turnovers.
Thaw the puff pastry sheets according to the instructions on the box (probably something like “40 minutes at room temperature”). I just leave the pastry in the box on the counter for 30-40 minutes until I’m ready to use it. When it’s thawed, the pastry should be easy to handle, but not so soft that it sticks to everything. If you leave it too long and it does become sticky, just put it in the refrigerator until it returns to the “easy to handle, but not sticking to everything” state.
Drain two 15 ounce cans of sweet cherries and pour them into a microwave-safe mixing bowl.
Add 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar and 1 tablespoon of cornstarch.
Mix well and then microwave for 5 minutes, stirring every minute or so.
Did You Know: Cornstarch has to be heated to 203 degrees Fahrenheit in order to do its job of thickening. So you can’t use it “raw” as a thickening agent for fruit sauces.
Let the cherries cool for about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. If you want to put the bowl in the fridge or in a larger bowl of ice/ice water to speed things along, that’s a great idea I wish I’d thought of when I was actually making this recipe. I’d recommend it.
Gently unfold your first sheet of puff pastry. Each sheet will need to be cut in quarters. The easiest tool I’ve found for the job is a pizza cutter. Also, have a small cup or bowl of water nearby. You’ll need that shortly.
Cut the sheet into quarters to form 4 squares.
Place about ⅛ of the cherry mixture on each square, offset in a roughly triangular shape. Try not to get too much syrup on the pastry…like I did in the first batch I made. (Guess which batch is in the photos?)
Remember that small cup/bowl of water I said you’ll need? Its moment has arrived. Dip your fingers into the water and moisten all along the edge of one of your pastry squares. Then fold the pastry over to form a triangle shape. Press the edges down well to seal. Repeat for the other three squares. Now you have four basic cherry turnovers.
This next step is optional and can be skipped if you have nut allergies or just don’t like nuts (that’s totally valid — I don’t like raw onions and I never will).
You’re not done with that water yet! Dip your fingers in the water and moisten the top of one of the triangles. Gently press sliced almonds into the dough.
There was probably a much prettier way to do this, but I haven’t found the time to watch YouTube videos on topics like “artistic ways to put nuts on things you will bake.” I want to do that (very much, in fact), but a whole lot of other things compete for my attention every day and food art hasn’t gotten terribly high on my list of priorities yet.
Place on a baking sheet sprayed lightly with cooking spray.
Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. The pastry will be golden brown.
Oh, wow. Classic “Before and After” shots. I didn’t notice that until just now!
I removed the turnovers from the baking sheet and placed them on a stoneware plate to cool.
While the cherry turnovers are cooling, it’s time for some chocolate sauce. I made dark, milk, and white chocolate sauces and learned that they all need to be made slightly differently. Dark chocolate needs the most help to reach a drizzle consistency, milk needs a little coaxing, and white hardly needs anything at all. It was really interesting to see how the different chocolates reacted to being heated for sauces.
For dark chocolate sauce, add semisweet chocolate chips and butter to a small bowl or ramekin. (I wish I had ramekins again. They’re so useful. I used a small coffee mug instead.)
Microwave for one minute, but stir after about 20 or 30 seconds. Microwaves have different cooking times and it’s only too easy to burn chocolate in the microwave. Keep heating in small time increments and stirring often to combine the chocolate and the butter. Once it’s all heated, stir in half and half to get a consistency for drizzling.
For milk chocolate sauce, you’ll also add butter and half and half to the chocolate, but not as much as the dark chocolate sauce.
For a white chocolate sauce, you won’t add any butter and only a small amount of half and half.
Once your sauces are drizzle consistency, it’s ready to dress up the turnovers.
First up, some dark chocolate.
Then, milk chocolate.
Here we have white chocolate.
And if you can’t decide? Well, it’s obvious — use them all!
These cherry turnovers are a really fun dessert to make because even I can make them look “artsy” and fool people into thinking I have mad pastry skills (which I so do NOT). If I can pull that off, I’m confident you can too.
- For turnovers:
- 1 box of 2 puff pastry sheets (17.5 ounces)
- 2 15-ounce cans sweet cherries
- 1 2.25-ounce bag of sliced almonds, optional
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- For dark chocolate sauce:
- ¼ cup semisweet chocolate chips
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons half and half
- For milk chocolate sauce:
- ¼ cup milk chocolate chips
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1-2 tablespoons half and half
- For white chocolate sauce:
- ¼ cup white chocolate chips
- 1 tablespoon half and half
To Make the Turnovers
- Thaw the puff pastry sheets at room temperature for 30-40 minutes.
- Drain 2 cans of sweet cherries.
- Pour the cherries into a microwave-safe mixing bowl.
- Add the granulated sugar and cornstarch. Mix well.
- Microwave the cherries for 5 minutes, stirring every minute.
- Cool the cherries for 10-15 minutes.
- Unfold the first sheet of puff pastry.
- Cut the pastry sheet into quarters to form 4 squares.
- Spoon about ⅛ of the cherry mixture onto the square.
- Moisten the edge of each square with water before folding it into a triangle shape.
- Moisten the top of each turnover with water and gently press sliced almonds into the dough.
- Using a spatula, place the turnovers on a baking sheet sprayed lightly with cooking spray.
- Repeat with the second sheet of puff pastry to make the remaining four turnovers.
- Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown.
- Cool on a plate.
To Make a Dark Chocolate Sauce
- Combine the semisweet chips and butter in a small bowl or ramekin.
- Microwave for 1 minute, stirring well every 30 seconds.
- When the chips and butter are melted and thoroughly combined, stir in 3 tablespoons of half and half. The sauce should drizzle easily off the spoon.
To Make a Milk Chocolate Sauce
- Combine the chips and butter in a small bowl or ramekin.
- Microwave for 1 minute, stirring well every 30 seconds.
- When the chips and butter are melted and thoroughly combined, stir in 1-2 tablespoons of half and half. The sauce should drizzle easily off the spoon.
To Make a White Chocolate Sauce
- Pour the chips into a small bowl or ramekin.
- Microwave for 1 minute, stirring well every 30 seconds.
- When the chips are beginning to melt, add 1 tablespoon of half and half. Microwave for 30 more seconds and then stir well until the chips are completely melted. The sauce should drizzle easily off the spoon.
Plate your turnovers.
Use a spoon to drizzle sauce over each turnover in a back and forth, zigzag pattern.