Cherry Hand Pies

A few weeks ago, I made my first cherry pie. As I was cutting a slice for Rob, he informed me that cherry pie is his favorite type of pie. Really? This is news to me... and as a prolific baker, I was shocked and a bit disappointed in myself.  We have dated for seven years (and have been married for three of those years) and I didn't know that cherry was his favorite pie? Rob, I promise there will be more cherry pies in your future. 
 

Enter the July issue of Bon Appétit. When I turned to the page featuring Cherry Hand Pies, I knew I had to try them for our 4th of July gathering. Like the Rhubarb Tart with Orange Glaze, this recipe uses puff pastry, which makes it considerably faster to make that most pies and the individual servings are perfect for a party.
 


I have altered the recipe in two ways. First, after sampling one of the hand pies, Rob suggested that these would be better (and easier to eat) if you cut the cherries in half after you pit them. Second, I made the pies smaller. My puff pastry can in two sheets of pastry, each 10" by 12".  So, my rectangles were 5" x 4". The pies were still quite large and I can't image them being larger (as they are in the original recipe). Also, this meant that I didn't have to roll the puff pastry out at all.
 

 

Cherry Hand Pies
Bon Appétit, July 2011
Yield = 12 pies as adjusted, 9 pies as written in original Bon Appétit recipe

Ingredients 
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 cups fresh cherries, stemmed, pitted and halved (about 12 ounces frozen pitted cherries, unthawed)
  • 2/3 cup dried cherries (I used sour cherries from Nuts Online)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 14-ounce package all-butter puff pastry (preferably Dufour), thawed in refrigerator (I used puff pastry that contained 17 ounces in the box and was already separated into two sheets)
  • Flour (for dusting)
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons raw sugar

Preparation

Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Stir cornstarch and 1 1/2 tablespoons cold water in a small bowl to blend. Combine fresh cherries and next 4 ingredients in a large saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until cherry juices are released, about 5 minutes. Add cornstarch mixture; bring to a boil, stirring often. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.

Roll out pastry on a lightly floured surface. The puff pastry I used was already in 12x10" rectangle. Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut dough into six 5x4" rectangles. Repeat with second sheet of puff pastry. Whisk egg white and 1 tablespoon water in another small bowl for egg wash.

If your puff pastry is pre-made in a rectangular shape, I would recommend adjusting the size of your pies to fit that sheet of puff pastry.  For example, if your puff pastry is a 18x15" rectangle, cut dough into nine 6x5" rectangles. I thought the 5x4" rectangles were a perfect size, but obviously you can adjust the size to your preference.

Working with 1 pastry rectangle at a time, place on a work surface and brush edges with egg wash. Scoop 2 tablespoons cherry mixture onto one side; fold dough over filling so that short ends meet, forming a 4x2.5" packet. Crimp edges with a fork to seal. Using a sharp knife, cut a few slits in top of pie to vent. Place on prepared baking sheet; repeat with remaining dough and filling.

Brush tops with egg wash, then sprinkle with raw sugar. Chill for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375°. Bake pastries until tops and bottoms are golden brown, 30-40 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes on baking sheet. Transfer to wire racks; let cool completely. 

DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Let stand at room temperature.