As someone who is perpetually pressed for time these days and someone who doesn’t enjoy baking all that much (I know, I know), sometimes it’s just nice to have a quick dessert recipe in your back pocket for last minute meals and holiday entertaining. In honor of National Pear Month, a beautiful box of D’Anjou pears landed on my doorstep and I knew exactly what I wanted to do with them. I’ve had a recipe for hand pies rattling around in my head – a quick & flavorful way to impress folks with a homemade treat and “baking skills”
I have to be honest – it’s really all about the compote filling that gets folded up into these little pockets. It’s chock full of the Indian-inspired spices that I crave with baked fruit: ginger, cardamom, cinnamon. The recipe makes more of this fruit filling than you’ll need – save the rest of it in a mason jar for stuffed french toast, some melted brie on toast or stirred into yogurt. As for the pastry part, use a pre-bought pie crust or your favorite flaky crust recipe. A sprinkle of crunchy sugar makes for a nice bit of extra texture…and serving these warm with some vanilla ice cream won’t hurt anyone’s feelings.
Spiced Pear Hand Pies – makes 12 to 14 small pies
– 4 large ripe pears (I used D’Anjou) peeled, cored and diced into 1/2″ squares – you can use whatever variety you prefer for baking
– 1 tbsp. butter
– 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds removed
– 3 tbsp. light agave nectar
– 2 tsp. ground cardamom
– 2 tsp. ground clove
– 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
– 1/2 tsp. fresh grated ginger
– 2 tbsp. flour (for work surface)
– 1 package pie crusts (2 per package) – thawed in the fridge. if you prefer to make your own pie crust, please do – choose whichever recipe is your favorite.
– 1 egg, beaten and sugar in the raw (optional)
– In a medium sauté pan, heat the butter until melted. Add the diced pears to the butter and cook until they begin to release some liquid – about 5-6 minutes. Add the vanilla bean (and the seeds), agave nectar, dried spices and grated ginger. Bring to a simmer then reduce heat to low and cook until mixture begins to thicken and the fruit is tender – about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.
– Preheat oven to 375.
– Working on a floured surface, roll out the pie crusts so that they are about 1/3″ thick. Using a 3″ round cutter (I used a large mason jar lid), cut out rounds of the dough. Add a heaping spoonful of mixture to each round and fold over. Using a fork, crimp the edges to seal and place on parchment lined baking sheet. Once done, place the pies in the fridge for 20 minutes.
– Before baking, vent each pie on the top with two small slits. Brush each with a bit of egg wash. Sprinkle with a little raw sugar (if you have it) for a little crunch – this is completely optional. Bake for 20-22 minutes (depending on your oven) or until bubbling and golden brown – it’s okay if you get some oozing out of the top and sides. They’re supposed to be rustic. Allow to cook slightly before eating – the filling is HOT!
Disclosure: Thanks to the nice folks at USA Pears for the box of beautifully ripe fruit I used to create this recipe!