This post was planned way before I got hooked on the Great British Baking Show. So I need to come clean right away. I did not make my crust; I bought it at Whole Foods back in December. But I did make the fillings for these hand pies, and I am quite pleased with the result.
But before we get to the hand pies, we have to talk about the date paste because that is what started this entire post.
What to do with all these Dates
A while back I bought a huge bag of dates at Costco. I was eating them as a snack when I craved something sweet. Pop a couple in my mouth, and the craving goes away. Then I got tired of them, and the bag just sat in my pantry.
Fast forward to last December, and I stumble upon the dates in the back of my pantry and decide I have to do something with them other than stuff with bleu cheese and wrap in bacon. (although those are yummy) So I search the “inter-webs” and see posts about Keto and Paleo diets using date paste as a sugar substitute in some recipes. While I am not on either of these diets, I gave it a go. It is super easy.
But First – About Dates
There are several varieties of dates. However, there are two primarily sold in the US: Deglet Noor and Medjool.
Deglet Noor dates have firm flesh and a sweet, delicate flavor. Medjool dates, by contrast, have a rich, almost caramel-like taste and a soft, chewy texture. Deglet Noor is the more common and less expensive than Medjool. For a date paste, go with Deglet Noor and save some cash.
Homemade Date Paste
Dates, pitted and chopped in half
pintsize mason jar with lid
Pack the mason jar full of your chopped, pitted dates. Cover with water. Cover with the lid. Leave the jar on your counter for 24 hours or until all the water has been absorbed by the dates.
Place dates in your food processor. Blend the dates until smooth and creamy. Place in an airtight container and refrigerate until you need it.
If you wish to have a creamier paste, slowly add additional water until you get your desired consistency.
I searched the net for “how long will it keep?” and what I found is… there is no consensus. Some say 2-3 weeks others say three months. Just know that over time the paste may crystallize a bit. That does not mean that it has gone bad.
Use date paste to:
- Thicken and sweeten puddings and sauces
- Add moisture to and sweeten low-fat baked goods like cookies, cupcakes, brownies, breakfast bars, etc.
- Sweeten your morning oats
- Be part of the filling for a streusel, pie or tart or hand pies
- Swirl inside of cinnamon rolls
Apple, Almond, Date Hand Pies
Since I bought the pie crust, the recipe will reflect that. That said, if you are so inclined, you can always make your crust.
Pie Crust, 2 rounds
2 Apples, peeled, cored, quartered, sliced to 1/4″
Butter, 2 Tbs
2 Tbs sugar
1 Tbs cinnamon
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 Tbs all-purpose flour
24 Marcona Almonds, chopped
Date Paste, room temperature
Egg, beaten with a tablespoon of water for egg wash
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Follow directions on the box of pie crust to bring to temperature before you roll it out. Otherwise, it will crack. Do not wait much longer than the instructions say. Otherwise, it will be too soft and may tear. Roll it out on a lightly dusted, flour surface. Set aside.
Place the butter in a dutch oven over medium-high heat to melt. Once melted add sliced apples, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice. Cook until apples are soft on the outside but still firm in the middle. (about 4-5 minutes). Stir to keep the spices and sugar from burning.
Remove from heat and add the flour. Toss to coat. Use a metal spatula to scrape up all the cooked spices that may have stuck to the pan. Set aside.
Come back to the crust. Use a rolling pin to roll out the crust adding about another inch or so of diameter. Use a 3″ diameter, round cutter (I used a rocks glass with a thin edge). Cut out 12 rounds. (you may need the scrap to gather and roll out again to get the last couple rounds.
Repeat with second crust.
Assemble Hand Pies
Place 12 rounds on a parchment covered baking tray or sheet pan. Add a dollop (about a teaspoon) in the middle of the round. Sprinkle with several almond pieces. Lastly, top with apple mixture.
Use the egg wash to paint the bottom crust around the edges. Do the same with the inside edge of the top pastry and place on top of each filled round. Pinch to seal. I used my fingers to get started then came back with a fork to finish the look.
Paint the top with egg wash. Make sure you vented the top by sticking with a sharp knife or fork. Sprinkle with sugar.
Turn oven down to 375 degrees and bake on middle rack for 20 minutes.
Remove from tray and place on a baking rack to cool.
Enjoy these hand pies on their own or serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and maybe a drizzle of caramel.
Download Printable PDF Versions Here:
That is all for now.
On your mark, get set… BAKE! (for my GBBS fans)