I’m spending the summer with my 3- and 7-year-old daughters. Our days are filled with a host of kid-friendly activities, but I’ve also been surprised by how much they enjoy helping me cook and bake. There’s something about inviting them into my realm and asking for their help that gives both girls a palpable sense of pride. This week, with a slew of sweet cherries on hand, we decided to make a batch of Cherry Cream Cheese Hand Pies together.
These tiny, square hand pies each feature a dollop of cream cheese, a quick cherry jam, and a sugary top. They’re perfect for on-the-go summer snacking. Think: picnics, outdoor parties, and casual cookouts.
When making hand pies or any dough-based desserts with kids, you’ll want to keep the dough cold. Anticipate that the dough might be subject to a little more handling than usual, and do your best not to sweat the small stuff.
Here are some things to keep in mind when working with kids and pastry dough:
- Dough should be mixed swiftly and then thoroughly chilled. Consider making it up to 5 days ahead and only enlisting the help of older kids for this part of the process.
- When rolling the dough, keep things cold. A marble surface or smooth, cool countertop make a great surface for rolling dough.
- Section the dough into smaller pieces and keep any that you’re not using cool in the fridge.
- Reserve scraps to patch any holes or leaks that arise.
- Use plenty of flour to keep things from sticking.
Sweet Cherry and Cream Cheese Hand Pies
Makes: 16 4-inch hand pies
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter
8-10 tablespoons ice water
2 cups pitted, halved cherries
5 tablespoons sugar, divided
zest of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 tablespoons corn starch
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 large egg, separated
1. To prep the dough, combine the flour, sugar, and sea salt in a large bowl. Grate in the butter and gently fold into flour mixture. Use fingertips to combine until butter is evenly distributed throughout. Drizzle ice water over mixture, folding dough just until it holds together. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, gather into a mound, and divide in half. Wrap each dough disc tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate dough for at least 30 minutes or as long as 5 days.
2. To make the pies, preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
3. To make the cherry jam, in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the cherries, 2 tablespoons sugar, lemon zest, and 2 tablespoons lemon juice. As mixture starts to boil, add the cornstarch and stir vigorously for 1 minute. Edge heat down to medium-low (hot enough so that mixture bubbles gently), and cook, stirring frequently, for 4 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
4. Meanwhile, in a small mixing bowl, use a fork to combine the cream cheese, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and the egg yolk. (It’s fine if the mixture is lumpy.) Set aside.
5. On a lightly floured surface, roll one of the dough discs into a 16 x 16-inch square. Use a knife to cut 16 4-inch squares. Dollop 1 tablespoon each of cream cheese filling and cherry jam on 8 squares. Cover each with another dough square and press edges to seal. Use fork to flute edges. Use a pastry scraper to set finished hand pies on prepared baking sheet. Repeat process for the second disc of dough until you have 16 pies total.
6. Lightly beat the reserved egg white. Working quickly, brush hand pies with the egg white and sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. Use a sharp paring knife to cut 4 slits in the top of each pie.
7. Slide into oven, turn heat down to 400 F, and bake, turning once halfway through, for 15-20 minutes, or until the filling is bubbling and the pies are a rich golden hue.
8. Cool for 1 hour or longer if planning to transport the pies.More On