They tell you they don’t want dessert. Everyone is just too full. Wait til you see what happens when you bring out a tray of these guys. Most will change their mind. Especially if you add some fresh whipped cream to the mix. Or a scoop of vanilla ice cream. The pastry dough contains mascarpone cheese and a substantial amount of butter. As a result, it is very sticky and requires at least three hours of refrigeration before rolling it out.
Before working on rolling out the dough, get the apricot filling prepared. It will need a chance to cool down before pairing it up with the dough.
When you are ready to roll out the dough, clear an area on your counter and spread out a large sheet of parchment paper. It really is the best working surface for this project. This dough is super tender and takes some practice when cutting out and transferring the dough rounds to the baking sheet. The key to success is to work with very cold dough and to have lots and lots of flour on hand.
I have found that a well-floured offset spatula works well when lifting the dough rounds from the work area. Don’t be too concerned about creating the perfect round shape. Hand pies are traditionally rustic in their appearance. The apricot mixture should fill exactly 16 pies.
If you have some dough left over, wrap it tightly and store in the fridge to use in a day or two. Or store it in the freezer. There won’t be a lot leftover, but enough to make a few more treats …perhaps this time filled with some nutella? Just a thought.
These are at their best not long after their removal from the oven. If you happen to have some leftover, which is unlikely, store them in an airtight container. When ready, reheat them in a low oven just prior to serving.
apricot hand pies
Light, sweet & irresistible. Serve as they are or topped with a dollop of fresh whipped cream.
For the dough
- 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature (2 sticks)
- 1 cup mascarpone cheese or cream cheese, at room temperature (8 ounces)
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 2 eggs, for finishing egg wash
- 4 tablespoons turbinado sugar, for finishing
For the apricot filling
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 dried bay leaf
- 1 pound apricots, pitted and cut into large dice
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon coarse sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
- pinch of good cinnamon
For the dough
In a food processor, combine the butter, mascarpone, granulated sugar, salt, heavy cream, and grated lemon zest, pulsing until smooth. Add the flour and pulse until a sticky dough forms.
Divide the dough into two equal pieces (about 1 3/4 cups each) and shape into two balls. Cover both with plastic wrap; smoothing the wrap over the dough so that no dough is exposed to the air. Chill the dough for at least 3 hours or overnight. Make the filling while the dough chills.
For the apricot filling
Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. When the butter stops foaming, toss in the bay leaf, which will crackle and pop. Add the diced apricots and stir. Add the lemon juice, granulated sugar, salt, rosemary and cinnamon.
Cook over medium heat until the fruit is very tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and allow the filling to cool.
For the hand pies
When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Prepare your work surface by lining it with a large sheet of parchment paper.
Sprinkle a generous amount of flour on your work surface and take one ball of dough out of the refrigerator. Roll out the dough ball to form a rectangle about 10 inches wide by 20 inches long. Using a bowl or the rim of a drinking glass, cut out eight circles, each about 4 1/2 inches wide. Transfer the dough circles to a prepared baking sheet. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of filling in the center of each dough circle.
Beat the eggs lightly in a small bowl. For each filled dough circle, brush half of the outer edge with the beaten egg. Fold the dough over the filling to form a half-moon. Press the edges together and use the tines of a fork to press down all the way around the half-circle to seal the dough. Cut four slits in the top of each pie to allow steam to escape during baking. Brush the tops with beaten egg and sprinkle with the turbinado sugar.
Repeat rolling, cutting, filling and sealing with remaining ball of dough. Bake until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Halfway through cooking, switch the top baking sheet to the bottom rack and vice versa, and rotate both baking sheets. When done, remove to wire racks to cool.
These can be served warm or at room temperature.
NOTE: If you're running short on time or if apricots are not readily available, skip making the filling. Instead, fill each circle of dough with one sliced strawberry and two teaspoons of jam.
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