Thursday, October 31, 2013

Apple Cheddar Hand Pies

Pusheen knows what's up.  Fall is a time for pie.  Warm, comforting pie that fills your house with the scents of cinnamon and nutmeg.  And since today's Halloween, let's make pie into a fun-size treat.  You may not be able to hand homemade baked goods out to trick-or-treaters these days, but you can still give those miniature snickers bars a run for their money if you bring some of these to your Halloween shindig.  It's time for hand pies.

These are cheddar and apple hand pies.  Do not fear the cheese in this fruit pie, guys.  It's delicious.  It makes the crust even more flaky and buttery and pairs great with the apples.  Just trust me on this.  I've got a handy little hand pie press, but if you don't have one, you can achieve the same results with a knife and a fork, it'll just take a little longer.

Apple and Cheddar Hand Pies (adapted from Martha Stewart via Alexandra Cooks)

Cheddar Crust
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) very cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
4 ounces white cheddar cheese, coarsely grated
1/2 cup ice water

4-5 medium-large apples (I used Granny Smith & Braeburn), peeled, cored and cut into small cubes
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt
pinch of ground cloves

Egg Wash
1 egg yolk + 2 tablespoons water
Demerara Sugar or Turbinado Sugar 
For the Crust:
Put dry ingredients in a food processor and pulse to mix.  Add butter and pulse until you have small pea-sized chunks.  Add cheddar cheese and process.  With the processor running, add water in a steady slow stream until the dough comes together.

Divide in half, wrap each half in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least half an hour.

For the Filling:
Add the apples to the lemon juice as you cut them to prevent browning.  Then just add the rest of the ingredients and mix together until the apples are well-coated.

Put it all together:
Preheat the oven to 450°F.  Roll out the dough and cut into 4-5 inch circles.  Fill each circle with 1-2 tablespoons of the apple mixture (you may end up over-filling a couple pies before you get the hang of it).  Wet the edges with water, fold the dough over and crimp with a fork to seal.

Refrigerate for about thirty minutes after you assemble the pies to get the dough nice and cold again.  Then just brush with the egg wash, sprinkle with the demerara sugar, cut a few slits in the top of the pie to let steam escape, and pop them in the oven.  Bake for 10 minutes and then lower the oven temperature to 350°F.  Bake for another 15-20 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and your house smells like cheddar and apple goodness.

Serve warm or at room temperature, alone or with vanilla ice cream.

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