The dough for these pies is quite forgiving; just press it back together if any cracks or breaks happen while you’re forming the pies. It also can be made in the food processor.
If these half-moon beauties are going to travel, it’s best to wrap them in wax paper.
For an extra kick of spice, add 2 tablespoons of finely chopped crystallized ginger to the filling.
Make Ahead: The dough needs to be refrigerated for at least 1 hour and up to 3 days. The unbaked handpies can be assembled on a parchment-paper-lined baking sheet and frozen for up to 3 days. You'll have enough filling to make 7 or 8 more handpies; refrigerate or freeze the leftovers.
Servings: 8 - 9
Yield: Makes eight or nine 4- or 5-inch handpies, plus extra filling
- For the dough
- 2 cups flour, plus more for the work surface
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 1 large egg yolk, plus 1 egg lightly beaten
- 3 tablespoons ice water, plus more as needed
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- For the filling
- 1 cup dried unsulphured unsweetened apricots, chopped
- 1/4 cup bourbon
- 2 medium (or 1 large and 1 medium) sweet potatoes (about 1 pound)
- 1/2 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling on top of the pies
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
For the dough: Whisk together the flour, sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl (preferably a chilled bowl).
Use a pastry cutter or 2 table knives to incorporate the butter into the flour mixture until the mixture resembles coarse meal, working quickly so the butter remains cool.
Stir together the egg yolk and ice water in a small cup, then add to the flour mixture, stirring with a fork just until the dough clumps together and is just moist enough to pat together. Do not overmix. If the dough is dry and crumbly, add ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time; do not add so much water that the dough becomes wet or sticky.
Lightly flour a work surface and your clean hands. Turn the dough onto the surface and form the dough into a ball. Divide the dough into 8 or 9 equal portions; roll each into a ball, then use your hands to flatten them into separate disks. Wrap each in plastic wrap, or layer with wax paper between them and then wrap in the stack in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 3 days.
While the dough is chilling, make the filling: Place the apricots in a small bowl and pour the bourbon over them. Soak for about 1 hour, until the fruit is soft and most of the liquid is absorbed.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Have a baking sheet at hand.
Use the tip of a sharp knife to prick a hole in the top of each sweet potato, then wrap the potatoes in aluminum foil and place on the baking sheet. Roast for 45 to 55 minutes, until soft. Unwrap; when cool enough to handle, discard the skins and place the flesh in a mixing bowl.
Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees (if you are making the handpies right away). Line 1 or 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Add the soaked apricots and any remaining bourbon that was not absorbed, along with the sugar, butter, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom (to taste) and salt. Use a potato masher or heavy spoon to form a filling that has the consistency of soft mashed potatoes. Reserve 1 1/4 cups for these handpies; refrigerate or freeze the remaining filling for another use.
To assemble: Lightly flour a work surface. (If needed, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.) Whisk together the remaining beaten egg and the heavy cream in a small cup.
Working with one at a time, unwrap and roll each ball of dough into a round that's 4 to 5 inches across and about 1/4 inch thick. Place about 2 tablespoons of the filling at the center of each round. Brush some of the egg-cream mixture around the edges of the dough, then fold the dough over to create a half-moon shape. Use the tines of a fork to press and seal the edges. Cut 3 small vent/slits on the top of each handpie. Transfer to the parchment-paper-lined baking sheet(s), leaving at least 1/2 inch of space between the pies.
If desired, use some of the remaining egg-cream mixture to brush the tops and sides of each pie. Sprinkle lightly with sugar. Discard any remaining egg-cream mixture.
Bake for about 12 minutes, then rotate the baking sheet(s) front to back. Bake for 8 to 18 minutes, checking every 5 minutes for doneness. The finished handpies should be golden brown around the edges and lightly browned on top.
Let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.
Adapted from "Sara Foster’s Southern Kitchen," by Sara Foster (Random House, 2011).
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
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