We were at my parents’ place a couple of weeks ago, and as we were leaving, my dad pointed out the pear trees in the front yard, commenting that he hadn’t gotten around to picking them up and hated seeing them go to waste. I realized in that moment that I’d never tried making anything with pears before – I’ve always just snacked on them plain (which there’s nothing wrong with either!) But when you’re looking at dozens upon dozens of pears, your wheels start turning, you start dreaming about what you could do with so many of them.
I asked him then if he could round up a few for me, that I’d be sure to use them. He must have thought I said, “a few dozen,” because the next time I saw him he had a massive crate-full ready for me! I’m pretty sure he showed up with a whole tree’s worth. But I digress…
Lately, I’ve had the urge to finally try my luck at hand pies for the first time. I’ve been seeing them on many of my favorite blogs and Instagram accounts for years, but simply hadn’t made the effort to give them a go until now. With pears on the mind, I went to work searching for the perfect recipe. I found one that I thought looked promising here.
I went for it, and made these little cuties for an early family Thanksgiving last weekend. They turned out beautifully and were incredibly tasty. In fact, I think they tasted even better on day two (I just popped the leftovers in the fridge for snacking on later.)
Note: You will have lots of extra filling leftover. You can easily grab an extra package of pie crusts and make 24-28 of these. Or, save the leftover filling to use on top of toast, pancakes, or ice cream!
Spiced Pear Hand Pies
Makes 12-14 hand pies | Recipe via Running with Tweezers
- 4 large ripe pears, diced
- 1 tablespoon butter (or butter alternative, like Earth Balance)
- 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds removed (or one teaspoon vanilla extract)
- 3 tablespoons light agave nectar (substitute with honey or pure maple syrup, if needed)
- 2 teaspoons ground cardamom
- 2 teaspoons ground clove (I actually cut this down to 1 1/2 teaspoons)
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 package pie crusts (two per package), thawed
- 1 egg, beaten (for egg wash, optional)
- Raw sugar (I used turbinando, for sprinkling on top, optional)
- Heat the butter in a pan over medium heat until melted.
- Add the diced pears to the butter, cooking over medium heat for 5-6 minutes.
- Add the vanilla bean and its seeds (or vanilla extract), the agave nectar (or substitute), the dried spices, and the grated ginger into the pan.
- Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low and cook for about 20 minutes, until the mixture begins to thicken and the pear is tender.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool completely. I found that transferring the mixture into a glass bowl and stirring occasionally helped it to cool more quickly.
- While the mixture cools, preheat the oven to 375ºF.
- Working on a floured surface (using your 2 tablespoons of flour), roll out the pie crusts so that they are about 1/3″ thick.
- Using a 3-inch round cutter (the top of a large mason jar or mason jar lid works well), cut out rounds of the dough.
- Add a heaping spoonful of mixture to each round and fold over. Using a fork, crimp the edges to seal and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Place the pies in the fridge for 20 minutes.
- Remove from fridge and vent each pie by making two small slits on the top with a sharp knife.
- If you’d like, brush each pie with a bit of egg wash and sprinkle with a dusting of raw sugar. This step is optional.
- Bake for 20-22 minutes, until bubbling and golden brown. It’s normal for some of the filling to escape while baking!
- Remove from oven and allow to cool before enjoying!
These two-bite treats are the perfect size to satisfy your sweet tooth, and you don’t have to feel one bit guilty about going back for a second or a third!