I can’t believe it’s mid December already with the holidays just around the corner. As the days pass by, I don’t want to be planning my holiday meal at the last minute so I decided to make some mini hand pies now. They can be made ahead and refrigerated or frozen until you need them. Also, you can thaw just the number of pies needed and save the rest for later. I found a new pie crust recipe to try that includes a secret ingredient . . . vodka. I was a bit hesitant but found it to be one of the best pie crusts I’ve ever made. The dough was easy to work with and also baked light and flaky. It tasted so good with a cranberry apple filling that is perfect for the holiday season.
I found it easier to make the vent cuts in the top pie crust before placing on top. Place the top layer over the filling and seal the two crusts together. You can use a spoon handle or fork tines to seal the crusts together and make a decorative edge.
1 (9 inch) Double Pie Crust (adapted from Cook’s Illustrated’s Foolproof Pie Dough Recipe) courtesy of Serious Eats, recipe follows
2 cups Cranberries, rinsed
1 large Apple, I used Honey Crisp, if you have small apples, use 2 apples
1/2 cup Sugar
Zest from 2 Clementine Oranges
Egg Wash (1 egg whisked with 1 tablespoon water)
Turbinado Sugar, to sprinkle over top of hand pies
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/2 cup cold vegetable shortening, cut into 4 pieces
1/4 cup cold vodka
1/4 cup cold water
Process 1 1/2 cups flour, salt, and sugar in food processor until combined, about 2 one-second pulses. Add butter and shortening and process until homogeneous dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 15 seconds (dough will resemble cottage cheese curds and there should be no un-coated flour). Scrape bowl with rubber spatula and redistribute dough evenly around processor blade. Add remaining cup flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around bowl and mass of dough has been broken up, 4 to 6 quick pulses. Empty mixture into medium bowl.
Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture. With rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough until dough is slightly tacky and sticks together. Divide dough into two even balls and flatten each into 4-inch disk. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.
To make pie filling: Heat a saucepan over medium heat and add cranberries. Stir the cranberries as they begin to heat up. They will begin to pop and break down. Add the orange zest and sugar to the cranberries and stir until all the sugar has dissolved. Add the diced apples and let cook over medium low heat for 5 minutes just to soften the apples. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
Roll out the pie dough to approximately 1/16 inch thickness. Use a dough cutter or bowl that measures to 4 inches round to cut the tops and bottoms for the hand pies. When you have used all the dough, roll out the second disc and cut remaining round discs. You should have approximately 18 round discs, enough to make 9 pies.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. To assemble hand pies, place the bottom cutout halves of the dough onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Spoon a large dollop of filling onto the center of each bottom dough. Brush egg wash around the edges of the bottom dough. Cut vent slits into the top halves of the dough and place on top of the pie filling and press to seal. Use a spoon with a decorative handle or fork tines to press the dough together and seal. Use the remaining egg wash to brush the tops of all the hand pies and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
Bake pies for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool. Cranberry apple hand pies will stay fresh in refrigerator for a week or can be frozen for up to 2 month’s.
Makes 9 (4 inch) hand pies.