A couple weeks ago, a coworker of mine brought a GIANT bag of pears into the office. He has a huge pear tree in his yard, and it was producing so many pears that they couldn’t even begin to keep up with them all, and he didn’t want them to go to waste. So, lucky for me, I was able to take home a handful of beautiful, ripe pears, and make a fun dessert out of them!
The crust on these hand pies is unbelievably light and flaky, and the sweet pears and spicy ginger make for a great, balanced filling. They would be delicious topped with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream – but they’re great on their own, too!
Ginger Pear Hand Pies
makes about 12 mini pies
For the pastry:
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 sticks of salted butter, cold, cut into 1/2″ cubes
1/2 cup greek yogurt (2% or full fat)
1 T lemon juice
1/2 cup ice water
For the filling:
2 medium ripe, firm pears
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
To top the pies:
one egg yolk
about 1 tablespoon water
1.) In a food processor*, add the flour, salt, and butter cubes. Pulse until the butter is just cut into the flour, and there are pea-size pieces of butter (about 4-5 pulses).
2.) In a small bowl, whisk together the greek yogurt, lemon juice, and water. Add 1/3 of this mixture to the food processor, then pulse twice; repeat two more times, until all the greek yogurt mixture has been added, and the dough has just come together (you want to keep the pulsing to a minimum, so as not to overwork the dough).
3.) Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and gently break it into two equally sized lumps; lightly pat each one so that it sticks together, and wrap them both in plastic wrap. Place them both in the fridge to chill for one hour.
4.) When the dough has chilled for an hour, lightly flour your countertop, and roll each ball of dough out to about a 1/8″ thickness. As you roll, be sure to lift and rotate the dough often, so that you don’t end up with your entire piece of dough completely stuck to the counter!
5.) Cut circles out of the dough, approximately 4.5″ in diameter (I used the lid from a plastic deli container to cut my dough). Place each piece of dough onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silpat liner. Reroll the scraps from both pieces of dough together, and cut more circles out. (I found my dough was warm and sticky by the time I cut the first round of circles out, so I refrigerated the scraps for another 20 minutes or so before rerolling). You should get about 12 circles out of the dough.
6.) Once all your dough circles are cut, place the baking sheets with the pastry on them in the fridge for another 30 minutes. Meanwhile, you’ll make your filling.
7.) Peel your pears, and cut them into a 1/2″ dice. Add the pears, grated ginger, butter, salt, and brown sugar to a small sauce pan, and place the pan over medium heat. Allow the mixture to cook for about 8 minutes, until the pears are slightly softened, but still crisp, and you have a somewhat syrupy sauce. Remove the pan from the heat.
8.) Remove your chilled dough from the fridge. Allow it to sit at room temp for about 3 minutes, until it’s just pliable. Place one heaping tablespoon of the pear mixture on one half of each pastry circle; use your finger or a pastry brush to brush some water around the edge of the pastry, then fold the other half over, and use a fork to crimp the edges shut.
9.) When all the hand pies are filled and crimped, place them back in the fridge for another 30 minutes. Preheat your oven to 375°. When the hand pies have chilled for 30 minutes and your oven is hot, remove the pies from the fridge; in a small bowl, whisk together your egg yolk and a little more than a tablespoon of water. Brush this egg wash over the tops of all the hand pies, then sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
10.) Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the pies are a nice golden brown. Allow the pies to cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.
*If you are not using a food processor, mix the flour and salt together; then cut the butter cubes into the flour with a pastry blender or two knives, until you have pea-sized pieces of butter. Add the greek yogurt mixture to the flour and butter mixture in three batches, mixing gently with a fork after each addition. Once all the greek yogurt mixture is added and mixed in, proceed with the recipe as written.
These hand pies are best served the day they’re made – however, they’ll keep for several days, in an airtight container at room temperature. If you want to reheat them for serving, put them on a baking sheet lined with parchment, and place the pies into a cold oven; turn the oven on to 350°. About 3-5 minutes after the oven has come up to temp, the pies will be warmed through, and nice and crisp.
I promise I’ll post something that’s not a dessert next week,