Cherry-Cream Cheese Hand Pies
July 25, 2014
I was at the farmer’s market yesterday and saw that sour cherries are still available around here. I was surprised, because I know that sour cherries are only available for a short while…and we picked ours a month ago! But of course I wasn’t thinking about the fact that there are a few different varieties of them, and the ones available now are a darker red shade, but still just as sour. So, I wasn’t going to post this recipe because I thought the season was over, but we’re in luck around here! Grab some this weekend and bake these…I promise you won’t be sorry. The crust is heavenly, and I love hand pies because the crust to filling ratio is perfect. And these are a perfect dessert to bring to your friend’s BBQ! No serving hassle at all…just put them on a plate and watch them disappear.
Sour Cherry-Cream Cheese Hand Pies
adapted from a Smitten Kitchen recipe for rhubarb cream cheese hand pies
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, very cold and cut into small cubes
3/4 to 1 cup buttermilk
Whisk together flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Using a pastry blender, two forks, or your fingertips, work the butter into the flour until the biggest pieces of butter are the size of tiny peas. Gently stir in 3/4 cup buttermilk with a rubber spatula, mixing it until a craggy mass forms. Using your hands, knead it just two or three times to form a ball. If it doesn’t come together, add remaining 1/4 cup buttermilk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it does, then gently knead again. Divide dough in half. Wrap each half in plastic wrap and flatten into a disc. Chill in fridge for at least an hour or up to two days or slip plastic-wrapped dough into a freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months.
The Cherry Filling:
1 lb. pitted sour cherries (about 4 cups)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp instant tapioca
Place cherries and sugar in a medium saucepan with sugar and tapioca and stir to combine. Cover and cook at medium-low heat for 15 minutes, no need to stir. Increase the heat to medium, remove the lid and cook for another 10 to 15 minutes, until thick enough that if you run a spoon across the bottom of the pot, you can see a trench quickly form and disappear. Spread mixture on a large plate in the fridge or freezer to cool quickly, then scrape into a bowl. Keep cold until needed; it will be thicker and easier to “scoop” onto the pie bases.
The Cream Cheese Filling:
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 large egg yolk
Beat cream cheese, sugar, zest, juice and yolk together in a small bowl with an electric hand mixer until smooth. Keep cold until needed.
1 large egg
1 tablespoon water
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line two to three baking sheets with parchment paper. Beat your remaining egg and 1 tablespoon water and keep aside with a pastry brush.
Dust your counter or pastry mat with a lot of flour, unwrap the first half of your dough and start rolling your dough by pressing down lightly with the floured pin and moving it from the center out. Be patient about rolling, don’t press too hard, and it won’t crack as easily. Roll until 1/8″ thick. I cut mine into circles using a 3″ biscuit cutter, but you can also cut into 3″ squares using a pizza wheel or pastry cutter. You won’t have as much dough scraps left if you cut into squares, but I really wanted rounds. If doing rounds, you’ll have quite a bit of scraps, which you can form back into a ball, refrigerate for 30 minutes, and then re-roll and cut some more. It will make for slightly tougher crust on those, but I didn’t think it made that big of a difference. If your dough becomes soft, slide onto baking sheets and freeze for 15 minutes. It will make it easier to assemble.
Brush half the squares very, very lightly with the egg wash; these will be your bases. Cut a small vent in the other half of the squares; these will be your lids. In the center of each egg washed square, put a small dollop (a measured teaspoon) of cream cheese, then cherry filling on top. Don’t overfill! Top each filled base with a vented square. Press outer edge of top and bottom all around to seal with your fingertips or a fork. Transfer pie to a baking sheet, spacing 1-inch apart. Brush the tops with egg wash and sprinkle generously with coarse sugar. Repeat with remaining dough, including second half from fridge, and fillings (you will probably have some fillings left over…you can do what I did and re-roll the remaining scraps a third time and make a tiny little pie for someone who won’t mind tough pie crust, like my son. )
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until puffed and golden, and even more brown at edges. Transfer to cooling racks and cool to room temperature before serving.