Cherry Chocolate Hand Pies

Mini pockets of juicy cherry and chocolate goodness wrapped in hand-held flakey pastry.

Cherry Chocolate Hand Pies

My 33rd birthday was on Sunday.  I celebrated with my dear husband and toddler by hitting up the Farmer's Market, grabbing a delicious brunch at a funky vegetarian restaurant, squeezing a bit of work during nap, and then an early bird dinner at my top Italian restaurant in town.  So many of you asked who makes the birthday cake for a cake baker like me?  Nobody.  We had Blizzards from DQ and I couldn't be happier.  Oh, and these Cherry Chocolate Hand Pies.

Cherry Chocolate Hand Pies
Cherry Chocolate Hand Pies

I made these because, honestly, flakey pastry and sweet cherries were the only thing currently missing from my 12,045th day on Earth (give or take a few leap years).  I got to celebrate with my two favorite humans eating and exploring in my favorite city which I am lucky enough to call home.  33 is not young nor is it old, so don't expect too much wisdom coming from me yet.  But as I get older I do realize that I don't need much to feel special or even have the desire to be celebrated (I'll gladly take a small dinner party {or even just the hubs and a toddler at 5pm} over the dancing and sparkles {in my wine and on my dresses} of my twenties), and the important stuff I already have.  I don't mind being another year older if I get to spend it with a husband that I adore and the sweetest yet silliest toddler on the planet, working on career that I am truly passionate about, living in an always messy yet happy home that I promise to finish decorating this year, and cherry chocolate hand pies, of course.

Sometimes it's hard to talk about being happy or even perfectly content without sounding like a total asshole, but I really couldn't ask for more.  Don't get me wrong.  Life isn't totally perfect and will probably never be.  Even birthdays come with 6:45am wake-up calls and toddler tantrums.  I still miss our Remy girl every day, but other than that, I wouldn't have it any other way =)

Cherry Chocolate Hand Pies

I admit there's nothing super unique or life changing about this recipe.  Just perfectly flakey pastry, sweet juice cherries, and my favorite dark chocolate.  When you are working with great ingredients, then there's no need to alter their "pure-ness" just for the sake of coming up with an outrageous recipe.  I used my favorite all-butter pie dough and stuffed the hand-held treats with the filling from Yossy's Chocolate Cherry Turnovers from her book Sweeter Off the Vine.

I become both oddly frugal and frivolous when it comes to buying produce.  As a cook/baker, I am constantly buying ingredients.  I also have a toddler that can eat his weight in fresh fruit.  I know all the money spent at the grocery store is well spent either into a recipe I'm testing or into the bellies of my family members.  But damn - good, fresh fruit can be soooo expensive!  But most always necessary.  Especially when you are buying out-of-season for a recipe.  

Anyways, I love cherries so much.  They are so pricey, a pain to eat, and have such a short season that I tend to forget just how good they can be.  Growing up, I remember insisting on climbing to the top rung of our ladder in order to pick paper grocery bags full of cherries from the trees in our backyard.  Those were the days... Now, I am so stingy with cherries you'd think I somehow confused these ruby orbs for actual gems.  I can easily down a big $12 bowl of cherries in one sitting (I have to hold myself back from actually doing it), so it's almost criminal to me to bake them in a dessert.  But guys.... cherry pie is soooo good too!  See, I'm so confused and torn.  

To help solve my dilemma, I opted for hand pies.  For one, they are super cute.  And who doesn't love super cute food that you can eat with one hand?  Secondly, they require much less filling than a full cherry pie.  So if you are like me and find that you've eaten all of your filling while catching up on Netflix while your son is napping and no longer have enough for a full pie, then make these! 

All-Butter Pie Dough
makes 8 to 10 hand pies (may be doubled)

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup cold butter, diced
about 1/3 cup ice water
1 teaspoon lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
1 egg, beaten
splash milk
turbinado sugar for sprinkling

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, salt, and sugar.  Place the ice in the water and set aside.

Cut in the cold butter with a pastry cutter or by hand, rubbing the pieces of butter between your thumb, index, and middle fingers.  Once the pieces are no longer lager than about a peanut, begin to flatten the pieces of butter in sheets between your palms.  Be careful not to over-work the butter or let it get too warm.

Working with only a couple tablespoons at a time, add in about 6 to 8 tablespoons of the water along with the vinegar.  Stir together using a wooden spoon or even just a clean hand in the bowl.  The dough should appear fairly shaggy and not sticky.  Once you can squeeze a few pieces together and they hold, the dough is done being mixed.  Do not over-mix.

Divide the dough into half and shape each piece into a rectanlge.  Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least a couple of hours, or overnight (preferably).

Meanwhile, make the filling (recipe to follow) and let cool.

Once ready, bring one piece of dough out of the refrigerator and allow to rest for about 10 minutes.  Liberally flour the work surface and begin to roll out the dough into a rectangle, working from the center out – rotating the dough after each roll.  Roll the dough until about ¼ inch thick and about 13 X 9. 

Trim the dough.  Cut along the long edge into 3 strips (each should be about 8 X 4 inches).  Repeat with the second piece of dough, using an scraps to squeeze out extra pies.

Place a heaping tablespoons of cherry filling in the center of one end of each strip of dough (you will be folding the dough in half), about 3 to 5 cherry halves.  Sprinkle with a good pinch of the chopped chocolate.  Try not to over-stuff your pies.

Gently take the empty end of each strip and fold it over the filling.  Using the tines of a fork, crimp all four edges of the hand pies to seal. 

Place on a baking sheet and chill in the refrigerator while you pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees.

Once ready to bake, create an egg wash by whisking the egg and a splash of milk.  Brush over each pie and sprinkle with turbanado sugar.

Use a paring knife to cut a few vents in each pie.

Reduce the over to 375 degrees and bake for 18 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.  Carefully lift up a pie and check to see if the bottom has some coloring before removing.  

Allow to cool before serving.  Enjoy by hand or on a plate with ice cream.

Keep wrapped in foil for up to 3 days.

Cherry Chocolate Filling
adapted from Sweeter Off the Vine

10 ounces sweet cherries, pitted and halved
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
splash vanilla
6 tablespoons dark chocolate, chopped

Place the cherries, lemon juice, sugar, cornstarch, and vanilla in a small saucepan.  Stir to combine.  Cook, while stirring intermittently, over medium-high until the cherries begin to soften and the juices start to thicken, about 5 minutes.  Remove from the heat and let cool before using.