Bourbon added to the crust creates a distinct carmel-y, slightly boozy flavor to these portable treats. Swap out the cherry filling for your favorite – peach, apple, pecan, chocolate …
Cliff Notes: The pastry is a very simplified version of a quick puff pastry with bourbon replacing some of the water; the filling is made by cooking canned cherries with sugar until thick; sprinkle tops with coarse sugar for extra crunch.
Make It Your Own: – Use different fruits to make the filling … strawberry, blueberry, blackberry, apple, peach ….
Simplify It: – Use a good-quality store-bought jelly or pie filling instead of making your own
While paging through a 80-year-old, brittle-paged, splatter-covered copy of The New American Cookbook that was passed down to me from my Grandmother, I happened across suggested menus for various American holidays. To my surprise, the suggested dessert for Washington’s Birthday was an apple pie! Now, if we really want to celebrate the first president of this country, shouldn’t we be enjoying an honest-to-goodness cherry pie?
Well, that thought managed to plant a seed in my brain. But I typically don’t like cherry pies – they’re waaaay too tooth-achingly sweet and taste nothing like actual cherries. But still, the notion of a cherry pie just wouldn’t go away. When I mentioned it to my husband, his eyes lit up as he suggested I make cherry Pop-Tarts® instead. But, since we’re all adults in this household, I decided to adult-it-up by incorporating the delicious flavor of bourbon.
A few enjoyable tasty trial batches later, I wound up with this gem. Bourbon Crust Cherry Hand Pies. The bourbon in the dough adds a distinct carmel-y, slightly boozy (though all the alcohol will have cooked out) flavor to these portable treats. If you don’t care for bourbon, or you want to keep them child-friendly, feel free to substitute a half-recipe of my All-Butter Pie Crust.
For the filling, I strongly encourage you to make your own as outlined in the recipe below. If you use canned in water, or frozen cherries, there’s not much involved, other than the time for them to cook down, and the results are so, so, so much better than any pre-made filling or jam that you can buy!
1-2 Tablespoons Coarse Turbinado Sugar (like Sugar in the Raw®)
Cut the cold butter into 1/2″ cubes, and divide into three piles.
Add flour, brown sugar, and salt to the bowl of a food processor. Sprinkle in 1/3 of the butter cubes on top of the flour and quickly pulse the food processor 2-3 times. Add another 1/3 of the butter cubes and pulse 3-4 times until the biggest piece of butter is about the size of a pea. Add the final 1/3 of the butter cubes and pulse the food processor twice.
Pour 3 Tablespoons of bourbon over the flour-butter mixture and pulse 3-4 times until the liquid is mixed in. Add cold water, a tablespoon at a time, until the mixture is slightly wet and holds together well when lightly squeezed.
Pour the mixture onto a piece of plastic wrap. Use the sides of the plastic wrap to shape the dough into a flat rectangle, wrap completely and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, and up to 24 hours.
On a well-floured surface, roll the dough out into a long rectangle. Fold the dough onto itself in thirds, like a letter. Turn the dough 90° and again roll it out into a long rectangle. Fold the dough over itself in thirds again, wrap in plastic wrap, and return to the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
On a well-floured surface, roll the dough out into a large rectangle about 12″ tall, until the dough is about 1/8″ thick. Trim the sides, then cut the dough into 4″x12″ strips.
Make an egg wash by mixing the egg together with the remaining bourbon. Set aside.
Spread a generous tablespoon of your filling on the lower half of each strip of dough, leaving a 1/3″ boarder of dough.
Brush the egg wash around the filling, then fold the top of the dough strip down over the filling and press the edges with your fingers to seal.
Transfer the hand pies to the baking sheet. Brush the egg wash over the top of each hand pie, then crimp all the way around each hand pie with a fork to seal the edges completely. Cut 2-3 small steam vents in the top of each hand pie, and sprinkle with coarse sugar.
Bake at 375° for 20 minutes, until they are golden brown on the top and bottom.
And here’s the video!
A flaky crust that is tender, yet sturdy enough for forming into hand pies. When baked, the bourbon provides a slight caramel background flavor.
Drain the cherries and save the juice for another use.
Weigh or measure the cherries, and add half that amount of sugar. (If you have 20 ounces of drained cherries, add 10 ounces of sugar; if you have 2 cups of drained cherries, add 1 cup of sugar).
Pour cherries and sugar into a small sauce pan. Add lemon juice, almond extract, and salt. Cook over medium-low heat until the water has mostly evaporated, and a syrup has formed, about 2 hours.
To test if a syrup has formed, place a small amount of the juice on a cold spoon. Let it cool slightly, then run your finger through the syrup. If it leaves a distinct line, the mixture is ready. Transfer to a small bowl and let cool before using.