Jump to the Cranberry Cabernet Hand Pies recipe.
I can’t seem to get enough cranberries this season. They are just so festive and beautiful, but they can be painfully bitter if not prepared properly. Cranberries, like the rest of us, need balance. Eating them raw is too harsh, but sometimes I find they can be over-sweetened and the tartness is lost in that process. So, I figured out a way to get the best of both worlds out of this cranberry hand pie recipe. I simmered the tart little berries in a bath of sugar, orange, cinnamon, ginger and a full bodied cabernet sauvignon. This process removed the bitterness and replaced it with a rich spicy jammy flavor that pretty much tastes like wintertime. This cranberry hand pie recipe retains the tartness of the berries, but smooths it out with the rich syrup. Balance.
This recipe got me thinking about the approaching new year and how I want to enter into 2014. I am not a fan of resolutions that involve fads or extreme measures. Quitting cold turkey, becoming a hardcore yogi overnight, juicing, cleansing or caveman cuisine isn’t appealing to me. I feel most people are doomed to fail when they go to such extremes just because of a date on a calendar. You need to be ready for change and able to accept the balance between where you currently are and where you want to be.
I do, however, like the idea of a fresh start when that ball drops. A clean slate is something we can all use from time to time, but extreme change overnight isn’t realistic. In 2014 I hope to find and retain balance. Nothing extreme, nothing in vogue. Just a balanced approach to all things.
May you all find balance in 2014, in the kitchen and in life.
Bitter cranberries are balanced out by a homemade winter spiced cabernet syrup in these sweet, tart and full bodied hand pies.
- All Butter Vodka Pie Crust
- unsalted butter, cold and cut into 1/4 - 1 cup (2 sticks)
- all purpose flour - 2.5 cups
- granulated sugar - 2 tablespoons
- salt - 2 teaspoons
- ice cold vodka - 1/4 cup
- ice cold water - 2-4 tablespoons
- Cranberry Cabernet Hand Pie Filling
- fresh or frozen cranberries - 12 ounces (about 3.5 cups)
- cabernet sauvignon or another red wine of your choice - 1 cup
- granulated sugar - 1.5 cups
- cinnamon sticks - 2
- orange - 1
- fresh ginger - minced - 1 tablespoon
- Egg Wash
- egg - 1
- salt - a dash
- raw sugar - 3-4 tablespoons
Place the flour, sugar and salt in a metal or ceramic mixing bowl with high sides and mix together. Chill for at least 2 hours, and up to overnight (if you have the time).
If you have a food processor, you can use it to mix the pie dough. Place the flour mixture and cubed butter in food processor. Gently pulse until the flour changes from silky to mealy; this should only take a handful of pulses.
While pulsing, gently pour the vodka through the feed tube just until combined. At this point, I like to turn the crumbly dough into a large mixing bowl to check the hydration level of the dough by gathering a small fistful; if it holds together, it’s ready. If it is dry or crumbly, slowly add the remaining water using the butter knife method or a pastry blender, testing the dough by pinching it occasionally.
*Be careful to add only as much water as it takes to combine the dough into a ball or disk. The exact amount of water can vary depending upon the moisture content of the flour, the quality of the butter, and the weather. When it has the proper amount of water, the dough will come together without much effort or deliberate packing. If you need to add more water, make sure the ingredients are still cold.
Form the dough into two disks and wrap them in plastic. Chill for at least 1-2 hours before rolling and forming.
While the dough chills, cook up your cranberry cab filling filling. Start by shaving half of the orange peel into long thick strips with a vegetable peeler and finely zesting the other half of the orange peel.
Combine the sugar with red wine in a medium saucepan, and bring to a boil over medium heat. Add the cinnamon sticks and orange peel strips. Allow mixture to simmer on medium low heat until the syrup begins to thicken, about 8-10 minutes.
Add the cranberries, orange zest and minced ginger. Bring the mixture back to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring often, for 10 to 12 minutes, until most of the cranberries have just begun to burst. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Once your pie dough has chilled, on a lightly-floured counter, roll one disk to 1/8" thickness. Using a 3" round cookie cutter (for the hand pie bases) and a 3.25" round cookie cutter (for the hand pie tops), cut rounds out of the rolled dough. Be sure you are matching the number of small rounds to large rounds. Transfer the rounds to a lined baking sheet, and chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. Repeat the rolling, cutting, and chilling process with the remaining half of dough.
While the dough rounds chill, drain the syrup from cranberry mixture and remove the large strips of orange peel and cinnamon sticks. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 375°.
Remove the chilled dough rounds from the refrigerator. Space the small rounds on lined baking sheet evenly with a couple of inches on each side. Spoon about 1 - 2 tablespoons of filling onto the smaller pie dough rounds. Lightly brush a small amount of cold water around the edges of the of the filled dough rounds. Carefully lay the bigger rounds over the top of the smaller rounds and gently press and seal the edges together around the perimeter of each hand hand pie.
Create a decorative edge by pressing the edges of the dough together with the back of a fork all the way around the hand pies. Using a sharp knife, cut small decorative vents in the top of each hand pie. Repeat the process with remaining dough rounds. Return the hand pies, on the lined baking sheets, to the refrigerator to chill for another 30 minutes.
Whisk 1 egg and a dash of salt together in a small bowl.
Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the hand pies with the egg wash and sprinkle with raw sugar.
Bake until the hand pies are golden brown, about 20 - 25 minutes.
Remove the pies from the oven, and let stand to cool slightly before serving.
Enjoy with the rest of that bottle of Cab!