When I got off the train at my station on Thursday night, there was a fruit stand overflowing with bags of dark red cherries... two dollars a bag! Well, that was all the incentive I needed to by some and figure out what to do with them later. When I saw perfect little apricots at another stand, my plan was solidified.
Hand pies are a wonderful alternative to whole pies and easier to make than turnovers because the pastry is just plain old pie dough. I made these look fancier than they had to be just because they were first hand pies of the season and therefore deserved a little more fanfare. But really, they don't need to be anything fancy at all. Fold a circle of dough over your filling and crimp the edges with a fork and your done!
Oh and do yourself a luxurious little favor. Yes, it only does one thing, and yes it seems like a waste which is why it took me this long to treat myself. That being said, get yourself a cherry/olive pitter. For the eight or nine bucks its going to cost you, not standing in a hot kitchen cutting and pitting two pounds of cherries for god knows how long is so worth it.
As with all my favorite recipes, this is completely adaptable - any fruit, any nut. This will work with every mix of fruit and nuts you can up with.
Cherry-Apricot Hand Pies
1 -1 1/2 lbs pitted cherries, roughly chopped
8-10 apricots, roughly chopped
3/4 cup toasted slivered almonds
1/2 cup sugar (plus more for dusting)
1 tbs vanilla extract
1 heaping tbs of soft butter (or the "fake" stuff like Smart Balance)
2 generous pinches of Kosher salt (if using table salt, 1 pinch)
1 tbs lemon juice
1/4 cup cornstarch
4 9"-10" rounds of pate brise or pate sucree (can also be bought)
-Preheat oven to 375.
-Combine cherries, apricots, nuts, sugar, vanilla, butter, salt, and lemon in bowl. Taste, depending on the ripeness of the fruit, you might want to add a little more sugar. Just remember you will be adding sugar to the outside of the hand pie before baking too.
-Add cornstarch and mix well. The mixture should be coated and slightly thick. If you feel its too loose due to the juicy-ness of the fruit, I would suggest pouring out the extra juice. Be careful about using to much cornstarch or things will get gummy and taste like paste.
-Cut out squares or circles of pastry. Fill with fruit mixture, but don't over fill otherwise you wont get a good seal on the dough. Pinch or crimp the edges of the hand pie. Brush the outside of the pie with egg wash and sprinkle generously with sugar.
-Bake hand pies for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.
-I added a dollop of Marscapone cheese to the top of them, but they don't really need a thing. Will make anywhere from 12-18 hand pies depending on size. These are great the next day too, just cover them with some tin foil, don't refrigerate.