Bake: Pear-Ginger Hand Pies

Thanksgiving 2012 is upon us already.  This year has flown by, and we at 2FW certainly have a lot to be thankful for - my solo law practice has surpassed its 1-year mark, this blog passed its 3-year mark, we were basically unaffected by Hurricane Sandy, and our family and friends are all happy and (despite ups and downs) healthy.

Tomorrow, I'll be cooking up some rib steaks from Grazin' Angus Acres (I hate cooking turkey) and brussels sprouts with bacon (cooked in duck fat).  The wine, bread, salad, potato gratin, and a chocolate dessert will come courtesy of our friends J^2.  For my dessert, I decided to make pear and ginger hand pies.  The pears at the farmers market looked amazing, and I wanted to stray from the classic apple and cinnamon flavorings.  I've also made a number of pies recently and felt like branching out to the hand-pie arena.

This recipe can be made with store-bought roll-out crust, if you must.  I had some Food Emporium brand crust that I attempted to use, but it was bland and lifeless, so I went back to the store mid-recipe to pick up ingredients for my cream cheese dough.  Definitely worth the trip and extra effort.

Pear-Ginger Hand Pies
Yield: 10-20 (depending on size)

16 oz cream cheese
16 tbsp butter, somewhat soft
3 tbsp sugar
1.66 c pastry flour
1 tsp salt
all-purpose flour for rolling

16 tbsp butter, unsalted
1 medium piece ginger
6 bosc pears
0.5 lemon
2 tsp quick tapioca
1 tsp vanilla
0.25 c sugar
0.25 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
1 egg
1 tbsp kosher salt
2 tbsp pearl sugar (optional)

(1) Melt butter in a medium saucepan over med-low heat
(2) Peel and dice ginger (about 1/2 c yield) and add to butter

(3) Peel, core, and shred one of the pears; add to butter/ginger mix

(4) Peel, core, and dice remaining pears, tossing with lemon juice after each one (to reduce browning)

(5) Add pears, sugar, tapioca, vanilla, and nutmeg to pan, stir and simmer on low for 30-45 minutes until thickened

(6) Meanwhile, prep the crust as in the Mixed Berry Pie recipe, steps 1-3
(7) Chill dough for about 10 mins
(8) Taking a small piece at a time, roll out dough to about 1/8" thick and cut into approx. 5" circles (I used the lid of a Trader Joe's coffee can)

(9) Place dough circles on parchment-paper lined baking sheets (once filled, they will be difficult to move)

(10) Check on progress of filling - the pears and ginger should be al dente to soft when biting into them (the ginger takes longer to soften) -- cook for more time if not soft enough yet

(11) Preheat oven to 375 degrees

(12) Spoon approximately 1 tbsp of filling into center of each circle

(13) Beat egg with a dash of water

(14) Dip your finger in the egg wash and trace along the edge of each dough circle

(15) Fold the circles in half to form half-moon shapes; press the edges closed

(16) With a flour-dusted fork, seal the edges

(17) Make 2 slits in the top of each pie

(18) Brush the top of each pie generously with the egg wash and sprinkle with salt and pearl sugar

(19) Bake for 15 minutes, rotate the pan, then bake for another 20-30 minutes until golden brown

(20) Move parchment sheet to wire rack to cool completely

(21) Reheat in 250 degree oven, if desired

Notes: It's ok if some of the pies explode when assembling, just make sure there is enough of a dough rim so that the filling doesn't spill out, and brush the whole top w/ egg wash.  They still turn out ok and I can confirm are still delicious.  5" dough circles should yield about 18 pies.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

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What was cooking this time last year?  Two years ago? Three?

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