Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Pear, Sage, & Toasted Vanilla Hand Pies

Pear Hand Pies

It's crazy how motivated I get to do anything but study when I have nothing but studying that needs to be done. Nothing gets me in a cleaning, purging, organizing mode quite like having a million pages to write/read/cryover.

Thus, in the past two weeks, I have done some updating, reorganizing, and contemplating. I got a new TV stand (it's mint green, tall, and dashing). New soap dispensers (because it's the little things that make a difference, right?) and the European sham of my dreams. Dale got some geeky things--a vintage Chemex and baby blue coffee mugs. And I have been scouring the webs and stores and places for seating, preferably sofa-sectional-chaise style. That will be a bit of investment however, so these are only cushioned daydreams currently.

Pear Hand Pies
Pear Hand Pies

I guess this began with a mission to revamp my spaces. Space makes such a difference in mood and motivation and other such things. It's about light and situation. It's about wishing I could paint things and frame them and hang them and love them. It's about bookmarking DIYs. It's about plans of furniture building, starting with a rustic coffee table, ending hopefully with a substantial dining table (which I currently lack, even in insubstantial form).

This all assumes I have the fortitude and skill to do any of these things. I see a potential makeshift furniture, elementary craft project disaster in my future. But it's ok, I'm up for that so long as it involves new. I'm really into new lately. Well not necessarily new, just new to me.

Pear Hand Pies

This whole thing is further exacerbated by the cooler weather, clouds, and drizzle. It makes me want to burrow into my ideally created space with a blanket, a fire, a movie, and pie. Although, most times I want pie. I don't need particular weather to want pie. I just need butter.

Hand pies are the smart man's pie. The blueberry-stained-t-shirt man's pie. The gotta run but I need dessert first pie. They're my pie and your pie and every man's pie. It's all about versatility and personal preference here. Apple, pumpkin, pear, you name it, it's hand-pie-able.

Pear Hand Pies
Pear Hand Pies

This fruit-herb-toasty combination really is lovely. It's soft and earthy and comforting. These are the pie version of my perfect space. Wrap 'em in parchment, tie 'em up with twine, give 'em to your friends. Rock the Thanksgiving world in the warmest and flakiest of ways.

Pear, Sage, and Toasted Vanilla Hand Pies

For crust
Thomas Keller via Local Milk

250 g (2 cups) all purpose flour, divided, plus more for dusting
1 tsp. kosher salt
226 g (2 sticks) very cold butter, cut into small cubes
60 ml (1/4 cup) ice water

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine 125 g (1 cup) of the flour and salt. With mixer on low, add cubed butter one handful at a time until incorporated. Add the other 125 g (1 cup) of flour until just blended. Add the water and mix until just incorporated and a dough comes together. Form dough in a flat round disc, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least one hour or up to two days.

Once dough is done resting, remove plastic wrap and place on a lightly floured surface. Roll dough out to 1/4-inch thick. Using a four-inch biscuit cutter (mine was more like 3 1/2 inches), cut out circles from the dough, gathering and re-rolling as necessary until all the dough is used up. Refrigerate dough until ready to use (no longer than two days).

The unrolled dough or rolled and cut circles of dough can be frozen for several months. If freezing circles of dough, make stacks six circles high, separating each with a piece of parchment paper, and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. A fantastic way to have hand pies in a flash!

For filling

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean
2 firm pears, cut into small cubes
juice from half a lemon
1 1/2 tsp. fresh sage, finely chopped

Make toasted vanilla sugar (which I raved about here from the lovely and genius Top with Cinnamon). Place the sugar in a small bowl. Split the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the bowl of sugar. Chop the scraped vanilla bean into 1/4-inch pieces and transfer to a small saucepan. Toast the vanilla bean over medium heat until fragrant (this will only take a couple of minutes). Transfer toasted vanilla bean to a mortar along with about 1/2 tsp. of the sugar. Grind the bean and sugar until powdery. Pour into the small bowl of sugar and stir to combine.

In a small bowl, combine pears, lemon juice, sage, and 1/4 cup of the toasted vanilla sugar, stirring to evenly distribute everything. Let sit for 10 or so minutes, stirring once. Reserve remaining 1/4 cup of toasted vanilla sugar for use when assembling the pies.

To assemble and bake

small bowl of ice water
1 egg, lightly beaten
remaining 1/4 cup toasted vanilla sugar (see above)

Place a Tbsp. of filling in the center of one circle of dough. Using your finger, wet the outside edge of the dough with water. Place another circle on top or fold dough over the filling and gently press around the edge with the tines of a fork to seal. (Alternatively, place a tsp. of filling in the center of one circle of dough, wet edges, and fold over filling for mini pies.) Repeat with remaining dough and filling. Refrigerate for 15 minutes. Brush with beaten egg, sprinkle generously with toasted vanilla sugar, cut holes to vent, and refrigerate for 10 minutes more.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F and position rack in the center of the oven. Bake pies for 6 minutes then reduce heat to 350 degrees F, rotate pan, and bake until golden, about 15 minutes.

Pear Hand Pies
Lone pie baby.


  1. Hi! Gorgeous photos :) did you get the toasted ground vanilla bean method from my blog here : http://www.topwithcinnamon.com/2012/10/how-to-toast-and-grind-a-vanilla-bean.html ? If you did, would you mind adding a credit? If not, great minds think alike! ;) They look delicious!

    Thank you :)

    1. I actually linked to you and noted your genius about the toasted ground vanilla bean idea in another one of my posts here: http://tartletsweets.blogspot.com/2012/10/spiced-apple-cider-caramel-sauce.html!

      It's seriously amazing. I will never look at vanilla beans the same again! So good.

  2. aww, thank you! Sorry I didn't see it there :) I know right, it really transforms the vanilla beans!

  3. Hi - So excited to try this recipe! About how many pies does this make? Thanks <3

    1. This recipe makes 8-10 four-inch round hand pies, or 16-20 half moon (four-inch round folded in half) hand pies (as shown in the picture at the bottom of the post). Let me know how they turn out! :)