Just because you’re fully and wholy pumpkin’d out doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy some pie. ‘Tis the season, after all. Because, let’s face it, other than pumpkin, it’s pretty much impossible to get sick of pie. In fact, I’d argue that winter IS pie season. Which is perfect because it’s also pear season, and the two go hand in hand.
Is it just me or are there way more kinds of pears available in stores these days than there ever used to be? From seckels to starkrimson, comice to bosc. They’re downright gorgeous, in colors ranging from green and pale yellow to deep crimson, so I don’t know how I could have missed them before. Maybe I just wasn’t paying attention.
These precious hand-pies combine everything you love about pie in a compact package that fits in the palm of your hand. The flaky, buttery crust encases a filling of sweet, aromatic pears studded with bits of marzipan (yes, marzipan. I know, right? Every pie should be made with bits of marzipan.)
The best part? You get your very own adorable little pie all to yourself AND YOU DON’T HAVE TO SHARE. (Well, that’s Taylor’s favorite part, at least.)
December is National Pear Month, and we’ve partnered with USA Pears to showcase some of the season’s best varieties. This recipe in particular highlights the Green Bartlett or Williams pear, with its speckled yellow-green skin, classic pear shape, and sweet, aromatic flavor.
The Bartlett is unique in that it’s one of the few pears that changes color as it ripens, a visual indicator to let you select the perfect pear. When you buy your pears, they’ll likely be lime green and quite firm. As they ripen they’ll change from a lively chartreuse to a rich golden yellow with a blush of orange.
This particular recipe works best with pears that are ripe but firm, so look for pears that are yellowish-green in color and blemish free. If your pears are particularly green and you need them quickly, stick them in a paper bag at room temperature for a day or two to speed up the ripening process. Just keep an eye on them, as pears can go from ripe to overripe much more quickly than, say, apples, and will bruise quite easily in their riper stages.
Why are they called hand pies? Because they fit in your hand (I know, right? What a concept.) Think of it like a sweet empanada. I assembled mine using a 3-inch-circle cutter, a size which I found made for the perfect balance of crust to filling.
For decoration, I cut out some little flowers using the leftover dough scraps, and stuck them to the tops of the pies with a bit of egg wash for glue.
A light egg wash over the top of the pie will give it a golden brown crust, and a sticky surface for the coarse, crunchy grains of turbinado sugar to stick to.
That’s pie pear-fection (pear pie-fection?) right there.
- 1 Green Bartlett pear, ripe but firm, cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 4 ounces almond paste or marzipan, cut into 1/4-inch dice (tossed with a sprinkling of sugar to prevent sticking)
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 batch of your favorite pie crust (enough for a double crust pie). I personally like Martha’s Pate Brisee recipe.
- 1 large egg
- 1 tablespoon cream
- raw or turbinado sugar, for sprinkling
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F; arrange oven racks in top third and bottom third of oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
- Combine diced pear and marzipan in a bowl. Toss with lemon juice, sugar, and almond extract.
- Roll out pie crust slightly thinner than if you were making a typical pie. Cut into 3-inch rounds using a circle cutter or by tracing the rim of a drinking glass. Cut as many rounds as you can, then gather scraps into a ball and roll out again to get more rounds (these ‘seconds’ won’t be quite as flaky as the first batch but you don’t want to waste it nonetheless). Arrange half of rounds on prepared baking sheets, leaving 1-2 inches of space between them.
- In a small bowl, whisk together egg and cream until smooth. Brush egg wash in a 1/2-inch ring around the edges of rounds using a pastry brush.
- Spoon heaping teaspoonfuls of diced pear mixture into the center of each round. Gently lay a second round on top of filling, stretching slightly to match up edges. Press the tines of a fork around the edge to seal. Repeat with remaining rounds. If desired, cut decorative flowers or other shapes, adhering them to the tops of the pies with a dab of egg wash.
- Place baking sheets in freezer for 5 to 10 minutes (this will prevent the crust and decorations from losing their shape).
- Remove from freezer and brush tops with a thin layer of egg wash. Sprinkle with turbinado sugar. With a small pairing knife, make a few small slits in the tops of the pies to allow the steam to vent.
- Bake pies at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Rotate baking sheets top to bottom. Bake for 10 more minutes or until crusts are puffed and deep golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes before serving warm.
Disclosure: This post was sponsored by the USA Pears. As always, all opinions written are purely our own. We’re incredibly grateful for opportunities like these that allow us to continue sharing delicious recipes with you, so thank you for supporting us and the brands we love.