One of the things I love about McDonald's pies is that they're portable. Sure a slice of pie is great, but give me a hand pie and I'll do a happy dance. So you can imagine my joy while I was enjoying these cranberry pear hand pies. Yes, the size is fun but the warm gooey cranberry pear currant filling and buttery pecan crust also contributed to that joy. Serve these hand pies at Thanksgiving with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and everyone at your table will be doing a happy dance too.
Cranberry Pear Hand Pies
- 21/2 cups all-purpose flour (370 grams)
- ¾ cup finely ground pecans (90 grams)
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup cold butter, cut into small chunks (226 grams)
- 6-7 tablespoons ice cold water
- 3 cups cranberries (300 grams)
- 1 cup peeled and chopped pears (170 grams)
- 1 cup granulated sugar (200 grams)
- 2 tablespoons orange juice
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ cup dried currants (65 grams)
- egg wash 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water
- ¼ cup turbinado sugar (50 grams)
- Make pie dough. Combine flour, pecans, and salt until well combined. Add butter and mix using a pastry cutter or your hands until the mixture resembles coarse sand. Add ice cold water one tablespoon at a time just until the dough comes together. It will look a little dry. Shape into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Let chill in the fridge for at least one hour or overnight.
- Meanwhile, make cranberry pear filling. Combine cranberries, chopped pears, sugar, orange juice and zest, vanilla, and cinnamon in a heavy-bottomed saucepot. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and lightly mash cranberries to release juices. Continue to simmer for 8-10 minutes or until thickened and fruits are softened. Remove from heat and stir in dried currants. Transfer to a bowl and let cool completely.
- Lightly dust a clean work counter with flour. Roll out pie dough to ⅛-inch thickness and cut out 3-inch circles using a biscuit cutter for a total of 30 circles. Place 1 tablespoon of filling in the center of half of the circles. Place the remaining dough portions on top and crimp edges to seal with a fork. Place hand pies on a lined baking sheet and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Use a sharp knife to cut slits on top of each hand pie. Brush the top with egg wash and sprinkle turbinado sugar. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Serve warm.
Watch how to make this:
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
Whenever I come up with a pie recipe, I try to incorporate flavor into the crust that compliments the filling. Since these cranberry pear hand pies are holiday-themed, I decided to add pecans to the pie dough. Sweet, nutty, and buttery crust with tart cranberries, sweet pears, cinnamon, and plump currants...doesn't that just sound incredible?
First things first, the pie dough. Although we're making a pecan crust, the method is the same as making a classic one. Combine finely ground pecans with all-purpose flour, and salt in a large bowl. To make finely ground pecans, just pulse the nuts in a food processor.
Add chunks of cold butter to the flour mixture and mix until every bit of butter is coated in flour. If you have a pastry cutter, I highly recommend using it. Then, add ice-cold water one tablespoon at a time, mixing just until a dough forms. The dough will look a little dry but don't worry because it'll come together.
Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it chill in the fridge for at least one hour. As the dough rests, the flour will absorb the water and hydrate.
Meanwhile, prepare the cranberry pear currant filling. Combine fresh or frozen cranberries with peeled chopped pears, orange juice, orange zest, cinnamon, vanilla, and sugar in a medium pot. Bring the pot to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and cook until the fruits soften.
It doesn't seem like much liquid in the pot but as the fruits break down, they'll release all of their juices. Once the filling thickens, remove it from heat and stir in the dried currants.
You can make both the pie dough and filling the day before and assemble them the following day.
By now the dough should be firm. Lightly dust a clean work counter with flour and roll out the crust until it's about ⅛-inch thick. You don't want the crust to be too thick or the ratio of crust to filling won't be accurate.
Cut out 3-inch circles using a biscuit cutter and fill half of them with about 1 tablespoon of the filling. You'll end up with a bit extra filling but don't fret! You can smear it on toast like jam, top oatmeal with it, or use it for a muffin or cake filling.
Place the remaining dough on top and seal the edges using a fork. Pop the pear cranberry hand pies in the fridge to chill while you preheat the oven.
Use a sharp knife to cut slits on the top of each pie, allowing the steam to release while baking. Then, brush them with egg wash and sprinkle coarse sugar on top. I used turbinado sugar but you can also use demerara sugar or coarse sugar.
Bake the pies in the oven at 400 degrees F until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Remove them from the oven and let them cool slightly before serving.
As much as I enjoy the cranberry pear filling, I absolutely loved the pecan crust. It's more buttery than a traditional pie crust with a nutty flavor that is just sensational. Paired with slightly tart cranberries, cinnamon, and sweet pears, it's a match made in heaven.
For more cranberry dessert inspiration check out this cranberry streusel chocolate almond tart!