There are usually two types of fruit I routinely keep in the house — apples and oranges. With respect to either fruit, I figure I can coerce my husband or son to take a piece for lunch or a snack at some point during the day. I have to nudge them, too, because I keep both in the refrigerator. I used to have a lovely, inviting bowl of fruit sitting on my counter, hoping that its sheer presence would be intoxicating, and that the guys would fall all over themselves to get there, arguing about which nutritious orb they might want to partake of.
Okay, so maybe not. But the bowl was on the counter as a physical reminder because I do have to practically wave certain items under their noses to get them to take notice.
But the fruit in the bowl wasn’t getting eaten, and it was too much for me to keep up with by myself. The bananas got spotty before we’d finish the bunch, and my freezer can only hold so many black bananas with yet another banana bread in their future. The lemons molded very quickly, and the apples? Well, it was dismal.
I learned that there are a couple of problems with apples in a fruit bowl. First, farmers work hard to keep them in cold storage to keep them fresh and crisp, because let’s face it, who likes mushy apples? Letting them sit at room temperature for days before enjoying them can actually reduce the quality of the apple since they ripen 10 times faster out of refrigeration. Even more importantly? Apples emit ethylene which speeds up the ripening of other fruit. That’s great to know if you have green bananas, or avocados that are rock hard. But it’s not great if those apples are piled into a fruit bowl alongside many different types of fruit you’re trying to coerce the others in your house to eat.
So I banished the fruit to a basket in the refrigerator, and because it’s not right under their noses and at eye level, there it sits, waiting for me to either snack on it myself (which I do…) or cook with it. Their latest excuse for not eating is is, “We thought you were going to make something with it!”
Right. I am not easily fooled and resort to subterfuge to get those guys to eat their fruit.
Apple Blueberry Handpies, anyone?
Apple Blueberry Handpies
For the pastry…
1 c. unsalted butter, diced and chilled
2 c. all purpose flour
1 good pinch of salt
1/2 c. water, icy
For the filling…
4 tart apples, peeled, cored and diced
1 T brown sugar
2 T unsalted butter, room temp
dash of cinnamon
1 T applejack
1 c. blueberries
For the wash…
1 lg. egg, lightly beaten
1 T milk
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and position a rack in the center.
To make the pastry, in a food processor using the metal blade attachment, pulse the flour, salt, and cold butter until it forms clumps the size of peas. Pour the ice water slowly through the tube, continuing to pulse just until the dough begins to come together, but does not gather in a ball on the attachment. Scrape the dough out on to a piece of plastic wrap, cover with a second piece, and pat it into a neat disk. Refrigerate at least 1 hour.
While the pastry is chilling, prepare the apples. In a saucepan over low heat, cook the apples, brown sugar and butter until the apples soften, about 20 minutes. Pour the mixture into a large bowl and allow to cool. Afterward, add the applejack, cinnamon and the blueberries, tossing gently.
To prepare the handpies, roll out the dough to a 1/8″ thickness on a lightly floured surface. The dough can get a bit stick if it’s not really cold, so work quickly. Using a round cutter about 5″ in diameter, press the dough and transfer the rounds to a parchment lined baking sheet. Gather up the extra dough to roll again, and continue until all the dough is used. You should be able to cut about 12 rounds.
Spoon a small amount of the fruit mixture on to each round, then fold one half over the other, pressing down on the edges with your finger. Place the baking sheet back in the fridge for 10 -15 minutes.
Mix the egg wash, and brush over each handpie and place in the oven for 10 minutes, or until crust is golden brown, and fruit is bubbling from the pastries.
Sprinkle powdered sugar over and enjoy warm if you can.
- Unfortunately, these little things go down before you know you’ve had two (three?)– especially warm. The apples are still slightly firm, and the pastry is light and flaky. The bottom of the pastry isn’t soggy, and it stays intact when you bite into them. Very, very nice.
- The pastry and filling are only very slightly sweet, so the powdered sugar is a nice touch. If you’re looking for a gooey turnover, this wouldn’t be the recipe for you.
- I adapted this recipe from a cute little book called Baked from the Heart I’ve had for years. The recipe makes too much filling for the amount of pastry, even though I reduced the quantity of apples by half! I’d double the pastry recipe for my filling amount.
- I packed my extra filling into a ziplock freezer bag where it is awaiting a home in a tart, pie, or cobbler.
- If you don’t have applejack, then Calvados would work, or skip the alcohol and use a squirt of fresh lemon and some maple syrup instead.
- You can use frozen blueberries if you’d like, but make sure they’re thawed, and well drained before adding them to the apples.
- To make the pastry by hand, cut the butter in with a pastry cutter or your fingers until it it is the size of peas. Add the ice water a bit at a time, mixing with a spatula or wooden spoon just until it comes together in a ball. Then pour out onto a lightly floured surface to pat into a disk before wrapping and chilling.
- They keep very well at room temperature for a couple of days sealed in a ziplock bag and left right on top of the counter where everyone can see them. Yes, my guys have to be reminded. Unbelievable!
- Thinking that next time, a few pecans or walnuts would be perfect. But then again, you could leave out the blueberries and use raisins, right? Maybe some cardamom…Of course, the possibilities are limitless.
- On the nutrition front, apples contain lots and lots of flavonoids and studies have shown that not only do they make a pretty serious impact on the health of your heart if you eat them routinely, but may help reduce the risk of lung cancer as well. And the blueberries? Well they’re considered a superfood packed with antioxidants, and we know how important antioxidants are in fighting the free radicals that are associated with cancer, right?
- Don’t forget to check out Chris of Mele Cotte and her event this month “Cooking to Combat Cancer III.” Drop by, say hello, and more importantly, think about the food you eat, how healthy it is — yes even it it’s baked — and consider submitting a recipe in support. The more the merrier!
- A printable recipe is available here.
- Oh, and I suppose you could eat these with a fork if you had to, but why?