I came across some beautiful local apples on sale at the grocery store and used them to create apple-cranberry hand pies. Yes, another apple recipe, but I couldn't help myself!
If you love pie (particularly pie crust), and you've never had a hand pie, then you're really missing out! At first, I thought hand pies were synonymous with turnovers, but hand pies are a completely unique treat. They're actually portable, mini-pies with a perfect crust/filing ratio. Each bite is perfectly balanced because there's a nice thick bit of crust for every single morsel of filling.
My family loved these hand-held treats so much that they've sort of turned into an obsession. I made three-dozen, and after giving some away to friends, we had about a dozen left. My five year-old and husband finished all of them within 24 hours of the apple-cranberry hand pies coming out of the oven. To be fair, my husband ate 10 1/2 of them (downing them two at a time).
We are a crust-loving family, so maybe that's why these hand pies were such a hit. My five year-old loves pie crust so much that she asked me to make a crust pie for her. Her definition of a crust pie: a pie without filling. Just crust. Sounds pretty good to me. Maybe I'll have to give it a try!
Apple-Cranberry Hand Pies
Adapted from Cooks Illustrated
Ingredients for the Pastry Crust
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 tbs sugar
16 tbs cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1/2 cup to 1/2 cup plus 3 tbs ice cold water
1 egg white, lightly beaten (for the glaze)
1 tbs sugar (for topping the glazed pies)
Ingredients for the Cranberry Filling
2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup water
Ingredients for the Apple Filling
3 1/2 lbs sweet apples (6 to 7 medium apples) peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbs cornstarch
Instructions for the Pastry
Mix the flour, sugar, and salt in a medium sized bowl.
Cut the cold butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal with large, uneven clumps of butter scattered throughout the mixture. Start by adding 1/4 of a cup of ice water. Mix with a spatula. Add enough water for the dough to just come together.
Split the dough into two equal pieces and flatten each piece into two disks. Wrap each disk of dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.
Instructions for the Cranberry Filling
Bring cranberries, sugar, orange juice, salt and cinnamon to a boil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat.
Cook, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries have completely broken down and the sauce has thickened. An easy way to test for doneness is to scrape a wooden spoon across the bottom of the pot. It should leave a clear trail.
Once thickened, take the cranberry sauce off the heat and stir in the water. Allow it to cool completely.
Instructions for the Apple Filling
Mix the sugar, cinnamon, and cornstarch in a large bowl. Add the apples, and mix thoroughly.
Place in the microwave, and heat on high. Stir the mixture with a rubber spatula in 3-minute increments for up to 10 to 14 minutes. Cook in the microwave until the apples start to turn translucent at the edges and the liquid is thick and glossy.
Cool it completely.
Instructions for Assembling the Hand Pies
Preheat the oven to 425 F
Working with one of the pastry halves at a time. Roll out the pastry dough on a lightly floured surface. Using a 3 1/2 inch round cookie cutter, cut dough out. Re-roll the scraps and cut out additional circles. Continue this process until all of the dough is cut.
Place the pastry circles on a parchment-lined pan. Place a tablespoon or so of the cranberry filling on each pastry circle. Spread the cranberry filling, leaving about a 1/4" border. Next, place a heaping tablespoon of the apple filling on top of the cranberries. Place another pastry circle on top. Using a fork, crimp the two pastry circles together, sealing the edges.
Next, use a paring knife, make slits on the top of the pastry. Brush the top of each hand pie with egg white, and sprinkle with sugar.
Bake for 15 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown. Transfer the pies to a cooling rack, and allow to cool for at least 2 hours before eating.
Yields about 2 dozen pies, each about 3 1/2 inches in diameter.
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