People usually associate apples with autumn and the changing seasons, when the fruit is picked from the tree and harvested. But because apples store well in cellars, they are an all-winter-long fruit as well. Thanks to our bountiful farm share, we’ve had so many more apples than I’ve known what to do this year, and it looks like we’ll be eating them long into the winter. People keep suggesting I make applesauce but honestly I don’t really like to eat it. I’ve found other ways to add apples in here and there—including them in our Thanksgiving stuffing, roasted kohlrabi dishes, and this delicious Gouda bread—but I’ve also been wanting to try out a pop tart recipe for awhile and apples seemed like a fitting filling, considering my bumper crop. When I stumbled on this hand pie recipe last week, I thought I’d make it my last recipe in Berlin in 2013, before heading to the US for our big holiday trip.
Not only was I happy to use up some of our apple reserves, but I’m so glad I discovered this pastry recipe, which is absolutely divine, so flaky and buttery and just delicious. I’ll definitely be playing with it again, so don’t be surprised if you see it sometime soon. For the filling I’ve made my own deep dark caramel sauce but the recipe can be simplified to use store-bought caramels instead. I baked the tarts to a nice dark caramelized brown, but you can reduce the cooking time by a few minutes if you prefer golden brown. These tarts are so delicious it’s hard to not eat several in one sitting, and I’m already daydreaming about my next batch. And since we still have plenty of apples, that’s not really a problem!
This week I landed back in the US, and am busy enjoying some much-needed time with friends and family. But I’ve had a little inspiration for a special cookie recipe that I’m excited about, so I’ll try and share it next week before the holidays. Until then!
Caramel Apple Hand Pies, adapted from Just a Taste
Servings: 12-15 hand pies
For the dough:
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 cup unsalted butter, cut into cubes and cold
½ cup heavy cream, cold
For the filling:
½ cup sugar
15 grams butter, cubed and room temperature
50 grams heavy cream, warm
¼ teaspoon salt
2 cups small diced apples
Crystal sanding sugar
For the dough:
Combine the flour, salt, and baking powder in a bowl. Add the butter and use a pastry cutter or two forks to break the butter into the dry ingredients until a sandy texture forms. Add the heavy cream and mix until just combined. Turn the mixture out onto a lightly floured work surface and gently knead together several times until the dough comes together. Fold the dough in thirds three times, rotating 90 degrees in between, then wrap in plastic wrap or parchment paper, press into a flat disc, and refrigerate. Refrigerate for at least one hour or overnight.
For the filling:
Place a medium-sized saucepot over medium-low heat and sprinkle sugar in the pan until the bottom is covered in a thin layer. When the sugar is completely melted and turns a light caramel color, sprinkle another even layer on top. Repeat process until all sugar is melted and a deep, nutty smelling caramel forms, being careful not to burn the sugar.
When you have a fluid caramel, add the butter and stir to combine. Remove mixture from the heat and stir in the warm cream, being careful as the mixture will splatter. If the sugar seizes or clumps up, return to the heat momentarily to melt down. Add the salt, then add the apples to the warm caramel to heat through and quickly cook. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Remove the dough from refrigeration and on a lightly floured workspace, roll out to ¼- to ⅛-inch thickness. Using a 3-inch circular cutter, cut out as many circles as possible. Gather the dough together to reform a square shape, and re-roll one time to cut out additional circles.
Line a sheet tray with parchment paper, and place half the circles on the tray. Using a slotted spoon, add a small amount of the apples to each circle, about 1 tablespoon, leaving an edge around the filling. Top with a second dough circle, stretching the dough gently if necessary to fit over the apples. Use a fork to gently press the edges of the dough together, creating a crimped seal.
In a small bowl, whip the egg, and use a pastry brush to brush each hand pie with egg wash. Sprinkle tops with sanding sugar and place in the oven for 15 minutes, until the pies are golden brown. Remove pies from the oven, cool for 10 minutes, and enjoy.