Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Theme is... Butter!

So apparently the theme of my cooking this week has been butter. Lot's of it. In fact I'm starting to feel a little Julia Child-esque with all this butter usage. So those of you who are trying to lay off the butter, I suggest you just stop reading now before you see all the good things that lots and lots of butter produces (as I try not to think of what eating it will produce on the hips).
This recipe I'm posting today (I have another buttery recipe for later in the week) is for Cherry Hand-Pies. I have wanted to make hand-pies ever since I saw this post last summer. Then cherries went on sale last weekend and I thought, "What better use of cherries than hand-pies!" (I'm beginning to see a pattern in my baking that turns all those healthy fruits into something sugary and so-good-it-has-to-be-bad-for-you delicious). While the results were well worth all the time and effort, I do have to warn you that these hand-pies are a bit high maintenance. First off, unless you are someone who owns a cherry pitter (and if you do, I would like to know who you are so I can borrow it), pitting and chopping all those cherries is a bit time consuming. Of course, it didn't help that my assistant turned out to be a cherry thief!
Aside from the thievery in the kitchen, the crust is about as high maintenance as they come (lot's of time chilling between steps), but the flaky, buttery end result will make you forget all about it. Of course if you don't want to fuss with cherries, you can always substitute in your favorite pie filling.
Cherry Hand Pies
Sweet Cherry Pie Filling
4 cups (about 2 1/2 pounds) pitted and chopped cherries
4 tablespoons Corn Starch
2/3 cup sugar (you can adjust this to taste)
Juice of half a lemon

1. Combine all of the ingredients together and spoon into hand-pie dough.

Hand- Pie Crust
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
16 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup sour cream (or plain Greek yogurt)
4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup ice water

1. combine the flour and salt in one bowl and the pieces of butter in another bowl, place both bowls in the freezer for one hour.
2. Remove the bowls from the freezer. Make a well in the center of the flour and add the butter. Using a pastry blender (or two knives) cut in the butter until the mixture resembles course meal. This will take some time as the butter is frozen! Make another well in the center of the mixture.
3. In a small bowl whisk together the sour cream, lemon juice, and ice water. Add a little bit at a time to the flour mixture, using a fork or your fingers to mix it in until a lump of dough forms. Remove the lump and add more water mixture repeating this process until it has all been mixed in. Combine the lumps to form one ball of dough. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour.
4. While the dough is in the refrigerator, make the filling using the recipe above (or another pie filling of your preference!)
5. Remove dough from refrigerator. Divide dough in half and roll out on a lightly floured surface to 1/8 inch thick. Using a 4 1/2 inch biscuit cutter (or other round object that you can substitute - I used a bowl) cut out the dough and place circles on a parchment lined baking sheet. Place in refrigerator for about 30 minutes and cut out the other half of the dough.
6. After the dough has chilled for 30 minutes, remove and allow to sit for 1-2 minutes until dough is pliable. Spoon 1-2 tablespoons of filling onto one half of the circle. Brush edges with water and fold over, sealing edges with fingers. Using a fork, press the edges down to give it a decorative look. Place hand-pies back in the refrigerator for another 30 minutes.
7. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Remove pies from refrigerator and make a small slit in the top of each pie. Brush tops with milk and sprinkle with sugar. Bake until the hand-pies are golden brown and slightly cracked, about 20-30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on a rack.

Enjoy with coffee or milk!