There is a lull, a tiny one, between Thanksgiving and Christmas. In this momentarily quiet space, I am ever so grateful for the chance to enjoy the full bounty of the autumn fields on homey evenings with my family. Fall itself is an all too brief season in Central Texas, and I relish the chance for walks through fallen leaves in the weak sunshine of the afternoon, a season to be a little melancholy, to ponder, to read, to cook comforting recipes, to nest.
These flaky hand pies are one of my favorite ways to be self-indulgent. The crust, adapted from Tartine, will easily become your go-to pastry recipe. It comes together quickly and is amazingly sturdy, stretchy, pliable, and just about as buttery and flaky as puff pastry. It contains no sugar, so is also perfect for savory pies as well. In this recipe, the pastry surrounds a sweet and tart apple filling, warm with spices, and rich, earthy and complex with the addition of ever-so-slightly mysterious cheddar cheese.
Maple-Glazed Apple Cheddar Hand Pies
1 pound apples
2 t fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 t ground cinnamon
Pinch ground nutmeg
2 T butter
2 T all-purpose flour
1/2 recipe of flaky tart dough
1 cup cubed cheddar
1 large egg lightly beaten with 1 T water
Maple Glaze, recipe follows
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a bowl, toss the apples with the lemon juice. Add the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt and toss to combine. In a saute pan, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Cook apple mixture for 7 to 10 minutes until apple juices release and apples are slightly softened. Sprinkle flour over mixture. Cook for about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and cool.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry dough. Using a saucer or a lid as a guide, cut the pastry into 5″ circles.
Add the cubed cheese to cooled apple mixture. Divide the apple mixture on one half of each pastry circle, leaving a 1-inch border along the long sides. Carefully fold into half moons; brush the edge with egg wash, crimp the edges together to seal, and place on the prepared baking sheet. Lightly brush the outside of each pie with the egg wash.
Bake until golden brown, 25-30 minutes minutes. Remove from oven. Cool slightly and drizzle with maple glaze.
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
4 T cream
5 T maple syrup
Combine sugar, cream and syrup until smooth.