Monday, November 30, 2015

Pear and Cranberry Hand Pies

Are you over pie yet?  Have you had your fill over the Thanksgiving weekend?  Gosh I hope not because I've got just one more pie recipe for you.  This one makes a bunch of little pies that can satisfy any afternoon sweet tooth craving.  And maybe help you use up some of those lingering leftovers at the same time.  But first, the story of our unorthodox Thanksgiving....

For the third year in a row we spent our Thanksgiving somewhere other than our home.  We take advantage of the opportunity to travel as often as possible.  It's the best part of living in Europe, I think.  So you can imagine that our Thanksgiving dinners are anything but traditional.  Our first was a so-called "traditional American Thanksgiving" dinner in an Irish pub in Rome.  Just let that irony sink in for a moment.....

It was an experience, let me tell you.  Those Irish folks tried, but it wasn't exactly what we had been hoping for.  So that first Thanksgiving abroad we didn't quite have the most authentic dinner, but we were with friends and the company completely made up for the quality of the food.  Last year we had a quiet dinner (ha!) in one of the busiest brew halls in Munich.  Pretzels, schnitzel, beer, the works. 

For our third Thanksgiving in Europe we went a little further afield.  This year we ate outdoors on a warm evening in the heart of Lisbon.  A very different experience from our first two Thanksgivings, to say the least.  Our table had grilled tri tip and seafood paella on it and we ate to the music of street performers on the mosaic covered sidewalk.  It was one of our best trips so far.  That's not to say that I don't miss the American standards.  I do.  I even picked up a small turkey to roast for us later on this week with maybe one of two of our most favorite sides.  And pie.  There should always be pie.

In the meantime, I'll be dreaming up a new adventure for us next year.  Maybe seafood on Santorini or gyros in the shadow of the Acropolis.  Can you guess where the Navy is sending us next?

Pear and Cranberry Hand Pies
Makes about 15 little pies.  Crust recipe adapted from Food Gift Love by Maggie Batista.
For the printable recipe, click here

These are wonderful little pies for an afternoon snack (or, shhh don't tell, breakfast).  They're a great post-Thanksgiving treat to make because they're just a bit different from all the apple and pumpkin and you can use leftover whole berry cranberry sauce you have lingering in the fridge.  The crust is lovely and flaky and just the tiniest bit nutty.  It's my go-to crust and it even gets my non-crust eating hubby to grab a pie of two.  It's easy to whip up in a food processor but you can also just as quickly mix it by hand.  I didn't add any spices to the pears because I like a nicely spiced cranberry sauce and don't think it needs any more.  But if your cranberries are light on the spice you can add a teaspoon or two of mixed spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves or cardamom.

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup almond flour
1 tbs granulated sugar
1 tsp fine sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks or 16 tbs) cold, unsalted butter cut into small pieces
3-5 tbs cold water
3-5 tbs vodka

3/4 lb (about 3 medium) pears, peeled, cored and diced
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tbs lemon juice
1/4 cup whole berry cranberry sauce (try to leave as much juice out of the measuring cup as you can), like this recipe or your own favorite

For finishing:
1 egg
coarse sugar for sprinkling on top

Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together the flours, sugar and salt.  Add the butter to the bowl and pulse until the butter is in pea size pieces.  Add 3 tbs of water and 3 tbs of vodka and pulse a few times until the dough begins to clump.  To test if it is ready, pinch a bit between your fingers.  If it holds together it is ready.  If it does not, add another tbs of water and/or vodka (up to 4 tbs) until the dough holds together.  Try not to add too much liquid because it will make the dough tough so only add 1 tbs at a time and no more than 10 tbs total.

Turn the dough onto a clean surface and gently press it into 2 equal sized discs.  Wrap each disc in plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 to 2 hours.

In the meantime, make the filling.  Add the pears, sugar and lemon juice to a medium saucepan.  Over medium heat cook until the sugar has dissolved and the pears have begun to soften, about 8 minutes.  Remove from the heat and cool completely.  Once cool stir in the cranberry sauce.

Remove one disc of dough from the refrigerator.  Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface to 1/4 inch thick.  Using a 4 inch diameter round cutter, cut out as many circles of dough as possible.  Dollop 1 heaping tablespoon of filling in the center of each circle.  Carefully fold one side of the circle over the other and crimp the edge with your fingers or the tines of a fork.  Transfer to the lined baking sheet, placing each pie about and inch from the next.  Re-roll any scraps of dough and continue cutting and filling the pies.  Repeat with the second disc of dough.

Place the baking sheet in the refrigerator to chill the pies for 30 minutes.  While chilling, preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

Whip up the egg with a splash of water to make an egg wash.  Brush the egg wash over the chilled pies and sprinkle with the coarse sugar.  Bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden and flaky.  Cool on the baking sheet on a wire rack.

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