Hand Pies: From the Bottom of My Flakey Heart

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Few symbols capture my heart like the heart. There’s no gray area here, no mistaken intent. Whether rendered in a doodle, decal, cookie-cutter, pie plate or box of chocolates, a heart-shaped anything delivers the simple, eloquent, and unwavering message that you are loved, or at the very least, thought of most fondly.

While Valentine’s Day is all about delivering such heartfelt pronouncements in various ways, I rely heavily on my baking bent as a conveyance of my love. (Though I fear the ultimate measure would be my willingness to drive someone to the airport.) And sure, roses are nice, but hand pies bless your beloved with a batch of sweetness that lingers on the lips like a Valentine’s Day kiss. Here’s how I do it.

Hand-to-Heart Cherry Pocket Pies

  • 1 double-crust pie dough (store-bought or homemade)
  • 2 cups pie cherries (fresh or frozen)
  • 1½ tablespoons cornstarch
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 pinch kosher salt (⅛-¼ teaspoon)
  • ¼ teaspoon almond extract (optional)

Dough Prep

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Divide chilled dough in half. Roll out each dough round to ⅛” thickness. Use a medium to large heart-shaped cookie cutter and cut out as many hearts as dough allows.

Combine leftover dough, reshape dough into a round and roll out again. Cut out remaining hearts. Divide the number of hearts in two; half will be the bottom crust and half will be the top crust.

Filling

Add cornstarch to cherries and mix; next add sugar, salt, extract and mix again. Pour melted butter over mixture and stir to coat cherries. (You can also use canned cherry pie filling.)

Plan B: A super simple and equally delicious way to make these hand pies is to simply use your favorite jam or preserves in place of the cherry pie filling. A dollop of fruit jam works just fine. And you can also substitute the cherries in the recipe for any other pie-appropriate fruit (e.g., berries, apples, peaches, rhubarb).

Assembly

Bottom dough: place a healthy dollop of cherry mixture in the middle of the heart. Leave edges bare.

Top dough: gently roll the top dough hearts to enlarge their surface area, allowing more coverage when placed over the cherries.

Cover the bottom dough heart and cherry mixture with a top heart cover. Gently press the edges together, crimp to seal.

Placed filled hearts on a parchment-lined baking sheet. (Love can get messy.)

Baking

Brush heart pies with milk and sprinkle white sugar on the top.

Forget about timed baking, and observe hearts every 15 minutes. Bake at 350 F until crusts brown, and cherries and syrup bubble. Remove and cool.

Hand pies are best if not sealed or wrapped in plastic, which softens the dough.

Heart to Heart: Be My Valentine

13 COMMENTS

  1. wow tom…these look wonderful! though i don’t eat sweets i’m a sucker for cherry pie! you managed to celebrate both valentine’s day and president’s day all in one! whomever gets these is very lucky! buddy looks so cute!

    • Hi Jackie, I just leave them on a plate uncovered as plastic wrap or lidded food containers soften the crust because moisture is trapped. While still pretty tasty that way, they hand-pies lose good texture and have no crunch to the crust, more of a hearty chew. If I make a bunch, I’ll freeze some unbaked. Works brilliantly to just pulled them out of the freezer, and place on a baking sheet and pop into a 350 F oven until crust is golden and the filling is bubbling.

    • Cynthia, I’m always looking for them at Thrift Shops, where cookie cutters are pretty plentiful. That particular one was originally produced by Martha Stewart, or so said the label left on it in the kitchen bin at our local Thrift Shop Granny’s. 😉 Update, holy moly, I just looked it up on Ebay and that cookie cutter sold for $65. I paid a buck. Score!

  2. Aww… how lovely! And what a thoughtful (delicious) gift for a Valentine. Thanks, Tom, and I hope your Valentine’s Day was beautiful.

    • Thanks Michael, it was a lovely day of breaking out of my snowbound house and hitting our local coffee cafe and catching up with friends and digging out of a week’s long solitude. Cheers!

  3. Thanks for the tip b/c thrift sources are such a good idea. I agree with the guy who said that the heart is a perfect symbol anytime!!!

  4. I’m impressed that you have success with cornstarch + cherries. Mine are always runny, I’ve gotten some clear (powdered) gel to try but since I’m trying to avoid sugar, too, haven’t tried it. I would be curious if you’ve ever tried the gel method and any results. Apparently it has something to do with the super-acidic fruits + cornstarch. Always good to get a TCF post. Did Buddy enjoy seeing the bulldog compete in Agility at Westminster?

    • Hi Karen, perhaps my success with cornstarch and cherries comes with a longer baking time. I tend to ignore recipe baking times altogether and just check for signs of a full bake, like brown crust and thicker bubbling juices in the the middle of the pie or tart. I’ll lower the temp to 325 if the crust is brown, but the center still runny. I also let pies cool completely, which allows thickening to occur, much like making a jam. Hope this helps. Now as for Buddy, he was so inspired by the video, that he dashed, zipped, and rolled through the the mug-high snow like a champ. Of course, a series of lengthy naps followed as it takes awhile to recharge such beefy batteries. For those who haven’t seen the bulldog agility course video, here it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DhWC9R3IA0Y

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