There’s something about the holidays that make me want to bake. They say that people eat more during the winter to stay warm; for me, I eat more desserts. In an effort to bring some of the holiday cheer, I decided to make spiced apple pear pie pockets. These pastries are the perfect dessert to make it feel like Christmas with notes of cinnamon and nutmeg. Is it time to open the presents yet?
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon fine salt
- 3/4 cup cold unsalted butter diced
- 1 large egg
- 3 to 4 tablespoons very cold water
- 1/2 lemon, zest and juice
- 1 1/2 pounds baking apples, such as Golden Delicious, Cortland, or Mutsu (about 3 apples)
- 3/4 pound baking pears, such as Bosc or firm Bartletts (about 2 pears)
- 1/3 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling on the pie
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- pinch of salt
- 2 tbsp cup unsalted butter
- 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 egg, beaten
- Prepare the dough. Pulse the flour, sugar and salt in the food processor. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles fine cornmeal. Whisk together the egg and water and add to the dough, pulsing just until the mixture comes together (about 2-3 times). Remove the dough and separate into two balls. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour.
- Prepare the filling. Peel and chop the apples and pears. Toss with lemon juice, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt. Melt butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the fruit and cook until the sugar dissolved and juices simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook 10 minutes or until juices evaporate and fruit has softened. Add the flour and stir. Cook another 1 minute or until thickened. Stir in lemon zest and vanilla. Remove from heat and cool completely.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
- Remove dough from the refrigerator. Dust counter surface with flour. Roll out dough until 1/8 inch thickness. Cut out 3 inch round circles or any desired shape. Place about 1 tbsp filling or less depending on the shape. Place another 3 inch round circle on top and crimp the edges to seal together. Place on a lined baking sheet. Cut slits on the top and brush with egg. Repeat with remaining dough.
- Bake pie pockets for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from heat. Let cool 5 minutes. Serve warm.
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
As much as I love pie, I love portable pies. My favorite, and I have no shame admitting it, is McDonald’s baked apple pies. You are always guaranteed to have crust and filling with every bite. With that idea in mind, I decided to make pie pockets with a warm spiced apple and pear filling.
I am going to warn you, pies can be a bit challenging. If you only have 30 minutes to whip up a dessert, I would not suggest making these pie pockets. The crust alone needs 1 hour to chill. However, you can make the crust and filling the day before. You can even make the pie pockets the day before, freeze them and bake the following day (or week!).
The first step in preparing these beauties is to make the crust. I always use a food processor rather than mixing it by hand; it saves a lot of time. Pulse the ingredients together until the dough starts coming together but not until it starts to form a ball. Remove the dough from the machine and form into two balls, wrap in plastic and chill for one hour.
While the dough rests, prepare the filling. You can go with just apple but adding the pear adds another layer of flavor that makes the pie pockets infinitely better. The filling should almost be like a compote with a thick consistency. If the filling has too much liquid, it will make the pockets soggy.
Once the filling has cooled and the dough has chilled, it’s time to assemble. Dust your work surface with flour. Doing so will prevent the dough from sticking and will make it easier to roll out. Keep half of the dough in the refrigerator while working with the first piece; it is easier to roll out when cold.
Roll out the dough until 1/8 inch thick and cut out your desired shapes. You can do round hand pies, crescents, rectangular, whatever your heart desires! Place the filling in the center, being careful not to over stuff the pie pockets. I went a little crazy with the filling in my first batch and the pockets were bursting open after they were baked. Close the seams and cut slits in the center; this allows the steam to escape so that the pie pockets don’t burst open. Repeat with the second batch.
Remember to brush the pastries with egg to give it the beautiful golden crust. Once they are baked, wait a couple minutes before digging in.
These spiced apple pear pie pockets were everything I craved and more. The filling was wonderfully flavorful with the cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. The pastry was buttery, flaky and a little sweet. I had to give away a batch before I devoured all of these babies to myself. The best part? Having leftover filling to top my breakfast oatmeal with!
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