Spiced Pear Hand Pies

I’m totally psyched about this wonderful fall weather making its 2012 debut.

 …so much so that I planned a trip with my boyfriend to Indy to visit my aunt and uncle.

Let’s just say that somewhere between a leisurely dinner at an Italian restaurant and a roaring blue and white sea of fans at our friendly neighbor’s football fight, I found myself front row sandwiched between my aunt and uncle at a Coolio concert.

Yep.  Coolio.

Well, that’s if you ask me.  If you ask my aunt and uncle, they spent their time “being entertained at the Hoolio concert.”

Another story for another time- but regardless, most of our time outside was spent in long sleeves and pants instead of tanks tops and sunscreen.

That weekend brought me to the delightful realization that my favorite part of the year is almost here!  From Oct 1 – Dec 31 (with a very strict cut off at 9pm on Dec 31 as the hours after that may as well be labeled New Year’s territory).

That quarter is splattered with the best holidays of the year, some very important birthdays..ahem, ahem, gorgeous crisp and cool weather and the longest interval of days where kitchen smells just ooze delicious memories.

My offering for the rousing of Fall from its slumber?

A Spiced Peach Hand Pie.

These magical self-serve pies are exactly what anyone would want when first awoken:  something small but satisfying, crispy and warm and with a perfect amount of ginger and cinnamon so as not to make you feel as if you accidently downed a bowl of potpourri instead of cereal while in your drowsy stupor.

The pears, although subtle and tender, provide the perfect stage for a crispy, flaky pie crust to seduce your taste buds. Full of fall flavors, these pies stir up just enough cool-weather memories to start your mind thinking turkeys and places to hide for when your parents ask you to rake leaves.

Pie time:

Pluck bare pear leaves from their tree.

Ground ginger tans?  Not recommended for humans.

Fat and flour combine for flavorful and flaky.

Let a tense dough relax in a cool climate.

Fold pear-packed pouches.

The only photo this blog post really needed.  Oh. My.  Goodness.

My sign:  “Wet glaze.  Do not eat!”  didn’t seem to dissuade anyone from diving into these tasty treats.

Spiced Pear Hand Pies

Pockets of autumn seasoned with ginger and cinnamon convince you to toss summer by the wayside with a smile.  A glazed pastry crust gets crimped tight around baked pears and brown sugar with the half moon of crispy edges being the highlight of every bite.  Fall face first into this fall treat.

Ingredients

Shell

  • 2 C flour
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1/8 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/4 C organic vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 C unsalted butter, cold
  • 1/4 C ice water
  • 2 T melted butter for washing the dough prior to baking

Filling

  • 3 medium pears, slightly ripe but firm
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 3 T dark brown sugar plus 2 T dark brown sugar, divided
  • 2 T white sugar
  • 2 T butter
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 T raw honey
  • 1/2 tsp corn starch
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

Glaze

  • liquid from filling
  • 1/2-1 C powdered sugar

Directions

  1. Sift together the dry ingredients for the shell.  Cut shortening and butter into dry ingredients until it forms a crumb-like texture.  Add 3 T water and mix with hands slightly.  Add the last tablespoon if needed until the dough just comes together.  Form it into a disc, cover dough with plastic wrap and then put it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes minimum.
  2. While dough is chilling, start the filling by peeling the pears and slicing into thin slices lengthwise.  Place all the slices into a saucepan and mix in lemon juice to coat.  Then add the white sugar, 3 T dark brown sugar, butter, spices and honey.  Place over medium heat and saute until pears are tender throughout but still firm.  Add the cornstarch with 2 minutes to go and allow the sauce to thicken.  Remove from heat, stir in the vanilla and stick the pan into the freezer to stop the cooking.  ***Note that the spices will taste less strong once baked in the pies.
  3. Preheat oven to 400F while pears are cooling and once cool allow to sit at room temperature.
  4. Roll out dough into discs about 4-5 inches in diameter.  The dough should be thin but not so thin to be able to see your counter through the dough.
  5. Place discs on a silpat mat on a cookie sheet and pile pears nearest the center of one half of each round.  Over-filling the halves will tear the crust when you try to fold them in half.  Tap each pear off to remove excess liquid prior to piling.  Top each pile of pears with 1/2 tsp dark brown sugar.  Fold the empty dough half over the pears and pinch the ends together with a fork.  Make sure the fork goes deep into the dough layers to hold them together.
  6. Glaze the outside of the raw dough pies with the melted butter and then bake in the preheated oven for 18-20 minutes until dough is a delicious golden color.
  7. While pies are baking, whisk the remaining filling liquid with 1/2-1 C sifted powdered sugar to make a glaze.  The sugar amount varies since the amount of liquid your fruit may have may vary.  Look for a sweet, moderately thick glaze.
  8. Remove pies from oven and allow to cool just slightly on cooling rack.
  9. While still warm, glaze entire pie with the filling glaze and serve immediately with ice cream or a fork- enjoy!
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