apple and date hand pies
I cooked/baked my heart out a couple weeks ago, spending the entirety of a Saturday in my tiny little kitchen, getting covered in flour and maple syrup, and washing way more dishes than my hands could handle. But when asked to create an autumnal spread for some pretty rad ladies during a MN Fashion Week event, you say HELL YES, and you dive in head-first. And your stomach starts to flip-flop from too much coffee, your feet start to hurt, and the hours breeze by, but at the end of the day you fall asleep with the widest of smiles, because work isn't really work when it's done from a place of love and joy and passion.
So yeah, these hand-pies! Born out of an impromptu apple compote I whipped up one night when craving something sweet, turned into portable pastries, and shared with a crowd of hungry but polite Minnesotans (I hope they loved them). They are at once familiar and unexpected, with the dates cooking down into a richly-spiced sauce that cloak the chopped apples in a robe of caramel-ey comfort.
You can use any pie crust recipe of your choosing, though in my latest round of testing gluten-free crust recipes, I've fallen in love with King Arthur's version, and may never turn back. Happy baking, hand-pie homies!
• 1 batch pie dough, enough for a double crusted pie, well-chilled and divided into 2 flat rounds.
• sparkly sugar, for sprinkling (optional but also necessary for crunch)
• 1 large egg yolk, well beaten
For the filling:
• 2 large or 3 small, tart apples, chopped into 1/2 inch bits (I leave mine unpeeled)
• 1/4 cup coconut palm sugar
• 4 large, fresh, juicy medjool dates, coarsely chopped
• 1 tbsp. maple syrup
• 1 tbsp coconut oil
• 2 tsp. lemon juice
• 1/4 tsp coarse/kosher salt, plus a pinch or three more to taste
• 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
• 1/4 tsp. ground cardamom
• 2 hefty pinches ground nutmeg
• 2 hefty pinches ground allspice
Make the filling: In a medium-sized, heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine apples, sugar, dates, maple syrup, coconut oil, and lemon juice, and cook over medium heat until apples are well-coated, and dates start to break down. Add the salt and spices, and continue to cook over medium heat until apples have started to soften but still have some chew to them, and the dates have broken down completely, around 15 minutes. If mixture is looking too dry, add a splash of water, lemon juice, or a bit more coconut oil to the mix to ensure the filling stays viscous and saucy. Remove the filling from the heat, and allow to cool to room temperature.
Make the pies: preheat the oven to 375° F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Roll out one round of dough between 2 pieces of lightly floured parchment paper until very thin, around 1/8-inch thick. Check the dough periodically while rolling to ensure it's not sticking to the parchment. Using a 3" round biscuit cutter, cut dough into circles and place on prepared baking sheet. Pop the dough circles in the fridge while you roll out the remaining dough, then chill all the cutout circles for 10-15 minutes.
Remove chilled cutouts from the refrigerator, and spoon about 2 heaping tbsp. of the apple-date filling onto the center of half of them. Top the filled circles with the remaining dough circles to form a little sandwich, then use the tines of a fork to crimp the edges and adhere the dough rounds to one another.
Using a small, sharp paring knife, gently score the tops of the hand pies as pictured. Brush the tops with the beaten egg yolk, and sprinkle liberally with the sparkly sugar. Bake until pies are a rich golden brown, 20-30 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before your first bite. Share with friends, future friends, mothers, neighbors, and former foes. Autumn is here.