Cranberry and Orange Hand Pies

Cranberry and Orange Hand Pies

The holidays are just around the corner (don’t panic!) and we’re already thinking about our menus. If we’ve learned anything from past experience (read: Total mental breakdown while wrapping presents. Yes, we’ve learned the hard way. The very hard way.) we know that it’s important to plan as far ahead as possible, especially when it comes to baking and menu planning. For American Thanksgiving, the menu sets itself. After all, we all know there has to be a Turkey (or some kind of vegetarian main) and the sides our family considers tradition. When it comes to Christmas, we also have plenty of food traditions. 

We wouldn’t dare leave my mom’s famous Sausage and Sage Stuffing off the menu since it’s such an iconic family dish. It also wouldn’t be the holidays without these Cranberry and Orange Hand Pies. They’re actually more of a tradition in my household ever since I started having a Christmas party for our oldest and dearest friends almost 8 years ago. During our pre-kid days, we had all kinds of time together for dinner, drinks and weekend getaways. However, now in this stage of life, we so seldom all see each other. The one time we all prioritize to be together is just before Christmas because the couples that live in other cities always make it home for the holidays.

For the party I drag out my china and make a formal dinner that we eat informally as a buffet since, despite having a massive dining room table, I could never get us all around it. Over the years, I’ve tried to switch up the menu but there are just some dishes I know they love and expect to see. For instance, I wouldn’t dare not have my mom’s Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecan Streusal Topping as part of the dinner menu for Alison. Rob pretty much stakes out the Anna Olson Elegant Gingerbread Layer Cake with Raspberries and Lemon Buttercream (if you’re a gingerbread fan you HAVE to make this cake so hit the link here) that is always part of the dessert table and, of course, there are the hand pies. The tray of these little bites of holiday happiness always empties first. They’re so festive looking with their crimson filling and even the less-enthusiastic cranberry folk (count me in that group!) can’t resist their sweet and citrus flavour. Plus the dough is just so damn good.

If you’re looking for a holiday treat, I hope you give these a try. I’m not saying they’re your next family tradition, but they are all about family.

Cranberry and Orange Handpies

Yield: Makes: 16 handpies

Ingredients

  • For the dough:
  • 2 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 and 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen
  • 1/2 cup ice water
  • For the filling:
  • 1 pound fresh (or frozen, thawed) cranberries (about 4 cups)
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
  • 3 tablespoon fresh orange juice
  • 1/4 cup corn starch (dissolved in 6 tablespoons of water)
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  •   

Method

Pulse flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor. Add butter; pulse until mixture resembles coarse  (no big pieces of butter should remain). With motor running, slowly drizzle 1/2 cup ice water through feed tube. Pulse until dough just begins to come together.

 

Divide the dough in half. Form each half into a ball; flatten into disks. Wrap each disk tightly in plastic. Chill for at least 2 hours. Let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes to soften and then roll out.

 

Combine cranberries, sugar, orange juice and zest in a medium saucepan. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean and add bean. Cook over medium heat until mixture comes to a simmer and some cranberries burst, about 3 minutes. Stir in corn syrup slurry and allow to  simmer a few more minutes until mixture starts to thicken. Remove from heat and take out vanilla bean and allow filling to cool on counter top for 15 minutes. Place filling in a bowl and cover and chill until it cools completely.

 

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside. Working with 1 disk at a time, roll out dough on a lightly floured surface until thin, about 1/16-inch thick. Using cookie cutter, cut out 16 circles.

 

Brush edges of half the circles with egg. Place 1 heaping tablespoon of filling in center of each egg-washed disc. Place remains discs on top to create 8 pies. Using a fork, crimp around edges to seal. Place pies on prepared baking sheets and chill. Repeat with remaining dough, egg, and filling. Allow both baking sheets to chill for 1 hour.

 

Preheat oven to 425°. Working with one baking sheet at a time, cut a small X in the center of each pie. Brush tops of pies with egg and sprinkle with raw sugar.

 

Bake pies until crust is golden brown and filling bubbles at the center of the pie, about 20 minutes. Allow pies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely. Repeat with remaining baking sheet of pies.

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