The cherry pie has been an Iowa State tradition since 1919 and is sold during the VEISHEA (pronounced VEE-sha) celebration every spring. Student volunteers make more than 10,000 of these pies, which sell for a dollar each, over a two-day period to fund scholarships for the school's Hotel, Restaurant and Institution Management program.
Divide the dough into 6 even pieces and flatten each piece with your hands. Place a piece into each mini pie plate. Evenly press into the bottom and up the sides of the tin. Fork or crimp the edges, and then place on a rimmed baking sheet. Chill the dough an additional 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Poke the bottom and sides of the shell with a fork, 6 to 8 times total. Bake the shells until pale golden, about 25 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack, about 30 minutes.
For the filling: Meanwhile, put the frozen cherries in a strainer set over a bowl to catch the juices as they thaw, 30 to 45 minutes.
When thawed, squeeze the cherries to get more of the juice out of them. Coarsely chop the drained cherries and the maraschino cherries and set aside. Pour the cherry juice into a medium pot and add the maraschino cherry syrup, sugar, cornstarch, salt and 1/2 cup water. Whisk until smooth and then turn the heat to medium. Continue to cook, whisking, until the mixture comes to a boil and thickens slightly, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the chopped cherries and continue to cook until the mixture is very thick and reaches almost a jam consistency, 7 to 9 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool. When the filling is cooled, evenly divide the filling among the pie shells.
For the topping: Combine the heavy cream, sugar and vanilla in a medium bowl and whip, using a whisk, to medium peaks. Spoon a dollop onto each cherry pie or transfer the whipped cream to a piping bag fitted with a star tip and pipe the whipped cream onto each pie.