4th of July! When I think of 4th of July, I think of parades and BBQs and fireworks! Growing up it was always a special holiday, as I have a very patriotic family and there is no more patriotic holiday than the 4th of July. I remember going to parades and every time an American flag would pass by, Mom would make me stand. Up, down, up, down for the entire parade. It probably would have been easier if I'd just stayed standing! Mom and I joke about it now but I have to tell you, whenever I am at a parade and the flag passes, I find myself standing, hand on heart! :)
The boys were with their Dad for fireworks this year so I wasn't planning on doing anything to celebrate but at the last minute I had a few friends over for an impromptu dinner. It was not your typical 4th of July meal but it was soooooo delish!!! My friend Jen made a yummy baked cod dish and nectarine salad that was to die for! I made summer corn cakes with avocado salsa, which I promise to blog about another day, they were so yummy!
Of course, I was in charge of dessert.....what to make??? I planned on doing something with apples until my niece, Samantha, posted on Baker Becky's Facebook fan page (here) that she would like me to make a cherry dessert for the blog. I LOVE homemade cherry pie but I know that Samantha doesn't have a rolling pin (and I'm opposed to store bought pie crust) so I decided to make Cherry Hand Pies, which use puff pastry! I saw the recipe in Bon Appetit last year and meant to make them but completely forgot. Couldn't find the magazine anywhere so thank God for Epicurious.com!!! The recipe (here) is simple and the ingredients easy to find at any grocery store.
The other reason I wanted to make these hand pies rather than a traditional pie is that I wanted to use my new silpats!!! My good friend Kim (here) is a representative for Demarle At Home and I just got my new Silpats from her. My old Silpats lasted at least 15 years (which is a long time for someone who uses them almost daily) and I have been flying through the rolls of parchment paper. So happy to have the new mats so that I am not using so much paper! No sticking and easy cleanup from the cherry juice that drizzled out of my hand pies!!
I love this recipe because it uses puff pastry which is easy for anyone to use, even those who are not experienced bakers. I used Pepperidge Farms because that's what I have available to me but feel free to use any brand. I defrosted each sheet in the refrigerator and then rolled them to make them a little longer, but this is not necessary if you don't have a rolling pin. The only real work to this recipe is pitting the cherries. I'll admit it is a bit of a pain-in-the-you-know-what, but it's not impossible! Cut your cherry in half and pull out the pit, ta da!! If you have a cherry pitter it is even simpler!!
Totally worth any extra work from pitting the cherries because these are delicious! Those of you who don't like cherry pie have probably had pie filling from a can. Trust me, fresh cherry pie is unbeatable!! Perfect for 4th of July or any summer BBQ!!
Cherry Hand Pies
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 cups fresh cherries, stemmed and pitted, or about 12 ounces frozen pitted cherries, unthawed
2/3 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1 14-ounce package all-butter puff pastry, thawed in refrigerator
Flour (for dusting)
1 large egg white
1 1/2 teaspoon course sugar
Line a large rimmed baking sheet with a silpat mat (can use parchment paper). Stir cornstarch and 1 1/2 tablespoons cold water in a small bowl to blend. Combine fresh cherries and next 4 ingredients in a large saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until cherry juices are released, about 5 minutes. Add cornstarch mixture; bring to a boil, stirring often. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.
Roll out pastry on a lightly floured surface to an 10 x12" rectangle (if you don't have rolling pin, skip this step). Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut each dough into 4 6x5" rectangles (cut into 4 equal squares). Whisk egg white and 1 tablespoon water in another small bowl for egg wash.
Working with 1 pastry rectangle at a time, place on a work surface and brush edges with egg wash. Scoop 3 tablespoons cherry mixture onto one side; fold dough over filling so that short ends meet, forming a 5x3" packet. Crimp edges with a fork to seal. Using a sharp knife, cut a few slits in top of pie to vent. Place on prepared baking sheet; repeat with remaining dough and filling.
Brush tops with egg wash, then sprinkle with raw sugar. Chill for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375°F. Bake pastries until tops and bottoms are golden brown, 30-40 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes on baking sheet. Transfer to wire racks; let cool completely. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Let stand at room temperature.
Makes 8 hand pies.
Adapted from Epicurious.com
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