Rachel Gentile found a leatherleaf mahonia shrub near my apartment and collected a bowlful of berries. After trying one and realizing the berries are too sour to eat raw, she figured she could treat them like rhubarb: add a lot of sugar! Next to the mahonia was a plum tree, so she grabbed a couple of sweet, ripe plums to add to the mix.
1.5 cups of fruit, seeds removed
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 cup tapioca starch (or corn starch)
pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 375°F
Mix all ingredients together, set aside to prep mini crusts.
Rachel used a store-bought roll out pie crust, but the more adventurous can prepare their favorite crust recipe! Roll out crust to ¼ inch thick. Use a cookie cutter or jar to cut twelve 3-inch diameter circles. Place six circles on parchment paper or a silpat on top of a cookie sheet. Spoon out 2 Tbs of filling mixture into the middle of each circle. Place remaining six circles on top, sealing the edges. Slice the tops of each for a vent. Brush with egg white and sprinkle with raw sugar.
Bake 20 minutes or until the crust is golden.
Allow to cool for a few minutes before serving.
The berries combined with the plums make a delicious pie filling. The seeds of the leatherleaf mahonia are really bitter. A food mill is useful for extracting the seeds from the fruit and Rachel highly suggests removing as many seeds as possible before using mahonia berries in a pie. However, the seeds are a headache to remove, and biting into a seed ruins the taste!