Will It Work In A Pie? (Cheddar, Apple & Fig Hand Pies)

October 2011

There were many things about my former nanny life near Paris I dreaded or found irritating or considered to be a complete waste of my time:  ironing a three-year-old’s pajamas, ironing in general, cleaning that damn glass table top, putting away toys that would inevitably reappear throughout the entire apartment, etc.  There were also many things about my former nanny life near Paris I knew were privileges to be treasured in that moment.  Afternoons of reading, writing and balcony sunning counted amongst the positives.  As did lunch.

With all the fresh and quality foods so readily available, putting together a well balanced and delicious meal was effortless.  My ideal combination?  A hearty bread, one of the numerous varieties of cheese, maybe the occasional cured meats and about half a plate’s worth of fresh produce.  On a really luxurious afternoon, I might even grant myself a glass of red, followed by an espresso and a little sliver of rich, dark chocolate.

Bread + Fruit + Cheese + Wine = Ideal

Could that ideal combination work in a pie?  It was worth a shot.  I concede, I may have been too bold in the filling flavors to really taste the sharpness of the cheddar.  That being said, I was still quite pleased to snack on these little bitty hand pies and slices of the streusel topped tart version.  This just means I will have to continue experimenting with cheddar and pies.  Win win.

(click the above image to enlarge the recipe)

There will be extra filling unless you really mound your tart, which I wouldn’t recommend for oven spillage reasons.  Do not fret.  That extra filling makes a really delicious layer in a fall flavored baked French toast.

To distinguish the tart from the hand pies, I added some leftover cinnamon streusel crumbles from a very delicious bourbon dessert night.  It’s not a bad idea to keep some stocked for frenzied baking sessions before party deadlines.  If you want to add a little cinnamon crumble of your own, here is the recipe…

Cinnamon Crumble Ingredients

1/2 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup organic quick-cooking rolled oats
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small cubes, cold

For the Cinnamon Crumble

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine the flour, oats, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a mixing bowl.

Add the butter cubes to the flour mixture.  Use your fingers to roll the butter until the butter and flour are well combined.

Pat the mixture evenly onto a small, parchment-lined baking sheet.

Bake until golden brown and crisp, about 15 minutes.

Remove and let cool.

Transfer to a cutting board and chop into small pieces.

Keep the oven on.

Lastly, pack up the pies and take them to a geeked out pumpkin carving & fall foods festival evening event (granted, you may have to plan this event if you want it to transpire).  What’s a geeked out pumpkin carving event?  It involves engineers with carving kits, environmentally benign batteries and LEDs, but it looks pretty normal at the outset…

…and it finishes ever so sweetly with pies around a campfire.


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