Hand Pies are some of my favorite desserts. What can I say? I’m a sucker for tiny treats! I think it may have something to do with the fact that eating portion-controlled desserts make me feel like I’m not being overly-indulgent because they fit in the palm of my hand. Even if I eat two in one sitting.
Or maybe three.
Small portions are just a little game I play with myself to assuage any guilt because I have no willpower whatsoever. None.
It works, by the way. The small dessert thing? Totally guilt-free!
Willpower issues aside, I love the portability of hand pies–they’re just so much easier to bring to a picnic than a whole pie. And who doesn’t love pie at a picnic?
No picnic in your future? No problem! These Gingered Hand Pies deliver the sweet-tang of apricots with a little ginger kick, all wrapped up in a cute flaky package. They make a great breakfast pastry; or teatime pastry; or afternoon snack pastry; or an I-just-got-a-huge-bill-from-the-orthodontist pastry. Or my personal favorite, my-kids-are-driving-me-nuts-and-I’m-hiding-in-the-bathroom pastry. You get the idea. They’re just good stuff.
Whatever your motivation to make ‘em, I dare you to try to eat just one!
Start with halving the apricots and removing the pits.
Then quarter each apricot half, and place the pieces into a medium saucepan.
Add the cornstarch and ginger to the sugar…
and give it a good stir with a fork to combine.
Pour the sugar mixture over the apricots and stir to coat.
Mix a little fresh lemon juice with water,
and add it to the pan. The acid in the lemon with help wake up the flavor of the apricots and prevent them from turning brown.
Continuously stir and cook over medium-low heat until the apricot juices release, and the filling becomes thick and bubbly–between 3 and 5 minutes.
Add a touch of rum extract to round out the flavors. Continue stirring and cooking for an additional minute.
The filling should be very thick–almost the consistency of apricot butter. Remove from heat and allow the filling to cool to room temperature. (About 30 minutes.)
Preheat the oven to 375° F.
Once filling has cooled, line a couple of baking sheets with parchment of silicone mats. Roll the pie dough out on a floured surface to 1/8-inch thickness.
Cut an even number of 3-inch by 3-inch pastry squares, re-rolling dough as necessary. Be sure to have an even number of squares because each pie requires two–one for the bottom, and one for the top. Place half of the pastry squares, onto the prepared baking sheets, about 2-inches apart.
Here’s a tip: If you don’t have a square cutter, a circle will also do nicely.
And hey! If you happen to be a Kitchen Gadget Dork like me and own a cut & seal from The Pampered Chef, then by all means use it! Hand pies are delicious in any shape! Just don’t compress the seal button when you cut out the pastry pieces.
Spoon a tablespoon and a half (or so) of filling onto the center of each piece of dough.
Cover the filling with another piece of dough, press lightly with your fingers to seal, and crimp the edges with a fork so that the filling doesn’t bubble out of there in the oven.
Gently prick the top layer of dough with a paring knife or fork to allow steam to escape while baking.
Brush the tops with an egg wash, and sprinkle with a little sugar for added sparkle. Chill the pies in the refrigerator for 15 minutes before popping them in the oven.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the top and bottom of the pies are a nice, golden brown. Gently transfer the pies to a wire rack to cool for at least 10 minutes before eating.
It’ll be hard to wait, believe me, I know! But trust me when I tell you that if you try to take a bite of an apricot hand pie right out of the oven, you will singe all of your taste buds out of existence on that first bite. Such impatience can be tragic.
However if you can muster the fortitude to wait, your patience will be rewarded with the warm, buttery tang of apricot that will make your taste buds sing!
Singing always trumps singeing when taste buds are concerned.
Bring a basket of Gingered Apricot Hand Pies to your next picnic or barbecue, and your friends will sing your praises. That’s a whole lot of singing coming from a little pie!
Gingered Apricot Hand Pies
Makes 12 to 15 Hand Pies
For the Pastry:
1 Recipe No Excuses Pie Dough (recipe follows)
For the Filling:
1 ½ pounds ripe apricots
½ C. granulated sugar
1 ½ Tbs. cornstarch
¼ tsp. ground ginger
1 ½ tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 Tbs. water
¼ tsp. imitation rum extract
Pinch of salt
For the Glaze:
1 whole egg
1 Tbs. cool water
Raw or granulated sugar, if desired
For the Pastry:
- Prepare No Excuses Pie Dough according to directions and chill in the refrigerator. OR use your favorite recipe—enough for a double crust 9-inch pie.
For the Filling:
- Slice the apricots in half to remove the pits, and then quarter each apricot half, for a total of 8 pieces per apricot. Place the apricot pieces into a medium saucepan.
- In a small bowl, combine the sugar, cornstarch, and ground ginger. Pour the sugar mixture over the apricot pieces and stir to coat.
- Juice the lemon and mix it with a tablespoon of water before pouring it over the apricot mixture in the pan; stir.
- Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the juices release, and the mixture becomes very thick and bubbly. (About 3 to 4 minutes.)
- Stir in rum extract and salt; continuing to cook for 1 more minute.
- Remove the pot of filling from the heat and allow it to cool to room temperature. (About 30 minutes.)
For the Topping:
- Whisk a large egg white with a tablespoon of water until frothy; set aside.
- Place the raw sugar into a small ramekin; set aside.
To Form the Hand Pies:
- Once the filling has cooled, line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Roll out pastry on a clean, floured surface. Cut an even number of squares or disks with a 3” x 3” cutter. Each pie will require two pieces of pastry, so be sure to cut an even number.
- Place half of the pastry pieces 2-inches apart on the prepared baking sheets.
- Spoon 1 ½ to 2 Tbs. of apricot filling onto the center of each pastry square.
- Cover the filling on each square with another pastry square. Gently press the edges to seal before crimping with a fork.
- Prick only the top layer of pastry with a fork or paring knife to allow steam to vent.
- Brush the top of each hand pie with the egg wash, and sprinkle a pinch of raw sugar on top.
- Chill the pies in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
To Bake Pies:
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees (F).
- Remove the pies from the refrigerator, and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the tops and bottoms are golden brown.
- Let cool for 10 minutes on the baking sheets, and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Notes: Hand Pies can be made one day ahead of time. Once cooled, wrap the pies loosely in aluminum foil, and let stand at room temperature. To ensure the pies stay nice and flaky, do not refrigerate finished pies, or put them in a cooler—doing so will cause them to get soft and mushy.