When the holidays come around, I always crave these hand pies, which are packed with a sweet cherry and goat cheese filling and topped off with a savory salt-pepper-sugar coating. The filling is made using both frozen and dried cherries, which adds a complexity of texture and tartness. The best part is that you can easily double the filling and store it in the freezer for a later time. It can even be made up to five days ahead of time and baked off the day of. One of my favorite things about this recipe — other than the fact it's packed with notes of cardamom and almond — is that it relies on my baking sidekick, puff pastry. Using store-bought pastry saves a ton of time and ensures a fantastic hand pie, no matter how professional a baker you are. Whenever you're given the responsibility of showing up with the dessert, you can always count on these.
If you’re looking for a delicious way to use any leftover cherry filling, or if you want to make extra filling, I suggest making my Small-Batch Cherry & Lime Margaritas (recipe below).
- 1 box (2 sheets) frozen puff pastry
- 1 (16-ounce) bag frozen dark sweet cherries
- 1/2 cup dried dark sweet cherries
- 1/4 cup chopped candied ginger
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- flour, for dusting
- 1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
- 2 tablespoons coarse sugar
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, to make egg wash
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon course sugar
- 2 limes, juiced (about 3-4 tablespoons)
- 4 tablespoons cherry filling
- 1 to 1½ ounces tequila
- 1 ounce triple sec
- 3 cups crushed ice, divided
- rosemary sprigs, for serving
- lime wedges, for serving
Remove the puff pastry from the freezer and sit on the countertop for 30 minutes to defrost.2.
Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 375 F.3.
In the meantime, place a small pot over medium heat and add in the frozen cherries, dried cherries and candied ginger. Cover with a lid and cook for 5 minutes, or until the cherries have softened, stirring occasionally.4.
Add in the almond extract, ground cinnamon, cardamom, 1/4 teaspoon salt and granulated sugar. Stir together and cook for an additional 6 to 8 minutes, or until the liquid thickens. Once finished cooking, remove from the stove and set aside. Prepare a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set it aside.5.
Place the puff pastry on a surface lightly dusted with flour and cut both pastry sheets into 6 pieces, creating a total of 12 pieces of cut pastry. Fill 6 of them with 2 tablespoons of cherry filling and a sprinkle of goat cheese. Top each with the other half of the cut pastry. Using a fork, crimp the edges of the tops and bottoms of each pie to ensure that the filling doesn't run out while baking. Place each hand pie onto the baking sheet.6.
In a small bowl, mix together the coarse sugar, ground black pepper and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Then evenly brush each pie with a thin layer of egg wash and sprinkle with the sugar mixture.7.
Place into the oven and bake for 25 minutes, or until the hand pies are evenly golden-brown. Once finished baking, serve immediately as is, or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
For the small batch cherry & lime margaritas:1.
In a small bowl, combine the salt, pepper and sugar. Dip two cocktail glass rims into the lime juice, then into the sugar mixture. Set aside.2. Meanwhile, add in the remaining lime juice and cherry filling into a cocktail shaker. Muddle the cherry until a course paste forms. Add in the tequila, triple sec and 1 cup of ice.3. Cover the cocktail shaker with a lid and shake for a 30 seconds. Strain and pour the cocktail over the remaining ice and garnish with a rosemary sprig and lime wedge.