Bourbon Apricot & Sweet Potato Hand Pies

apricot sweet potato hand pie-sara_shoot2_0127 copy.jpg

These rustic half-moon pastries travel beautifully, making them one of my favorite picnic treats.  Just wrap them in wax paper and you’re off!

 Makes eight 4- to 5-inch hand pies

1 cup dried apricots, chopped

1/4 cup bourbon

2 medium sweet potatoes (about 1 pound)

1/2 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling on top

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon cardamom

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Hand Pie Dough (recipe follows)

2 tablespoons heavy cream

1 large egg, lightly beaten

Place the apricots in a small bowl with the bourbon and soak for about 1 hour, until the fruit is soft and most of the liquid is absorbed.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 F.  Lightly grease 2 rimmed baking sheets.

Wrap the sweet potatoes in foil and bake until soft, 45 to 55 minutes.  Remove from the oven and discard the foil.  Allow the potatoes to cool enough to handle before removing and discarding the skin.

Reduce the oven to 375 F.

Place the potato flesh in a bowl with the apricots and bourbon, the sugar, butter, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, and salt and mash with a potato masher to the consistency of mashed potatoes.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the Hand Pie Dough about 1/4 inch thick.  Cut eight 4- to 5-inch rounds with a cookie cutter or small knife.  Place about 2 tablespoons of the sweet potato filling on the right side of each round, leaving a 1/2-inch border.

Combine the cream and egg in a small bowl and stir to mix.  Brush the borders of the rounds with the egg wash and fold the left side of the dough over the filling so the edges meet and enclose the filling.  Crimp the edges with a fork to seal.  Cut small vents into the top of each hand pie with a paring knife.

Arrange the pies on the prepared baking sheets, brush the tops with the remaining egg wash, and sprinkle with sugar.  Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through, until golden brown.

Remove from the oven and let cool slightly before serving warm or completely cooled.

Hand Pie Dough

This dough is a pleasure to work with.  It comes together beautifully and is so forgiving that if it breaks or cracks, you can simply press it back together.  It is also great for making crostatas or free-form tarts.

 Makes eight 4- to 5-inch hand pies

2 cups all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons sugar

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1 large egg yolk

3 tablespoons ice water, plus more if needed

Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a large mixing bowl and stir to mix.

Cut the butter into the flour mixture using a pastry blender or two knives in a crosscutting motion until the mixture resembles coarse meal.  Work quickly so the butter remains cool and doesn’t melt into the flour.

Combine the egg yolk and the 3 tablespoons ice water and stir to mix.  Add to the flour mixture and stir with a fork just until the dough clumps together and is just moist enough to pat together.  Do not mix any more than necessary.  If the dough is dry and crumbly, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, just until the dough comes together; do not add so much water that the dough becomes wet or sticky.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and, with lightly floured hands, form into a ball.  Divide the dough in half and form each piece into a flat disk.  Wrap each disk in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or for up to 3 days, before proceeding with the recipe.


SARA’S SWAPS  Give these pies an extra kick of spice by stirring 2 tablespoons chopped crystallized ginger into the sweet potato filling along with the other spices.  You can also make these hand pies with different fillings, like baked pumpkin, butternut squash, apples, or peaches.