Back in December of 2015, I drove to Madison, Wisconsin for a Listen To Your Mother National Team retreat. It would be the first time that all five of us sat in the same room together, which was weird considering how much time we spent working together via phone, text, and email. We got some work done in Madison of course, but we laughed a lot, too. One of my favorite memories was breakfast at our hotel, where there was a little cafe that offered a few grab-and-go items but mostly deliciously-prepared treats like hand pies. Deb and I ordered the hand pies and we still talk about them today, especially the banana/Nutella hand pie.
When we were planning last week’s trip to Savannah as a group, I had plans of my own. Being one of the two people driving to Savannah from home, I wanted to bring all kinds of things that would take our fun to the next level. Considering how much we loved those hand pies in Madison, I decided to try my hand (get it?) at making hand pies in the simplest way possible. It worked well and they were delicious. I made them again recently, for Jim, and now I’m here to share my methods with you so you can impress those you love for Valentine’s Day or any day.
First, a disclaimer. While two out of my six most recent blog posts are indeed about food/dessert/recipes (how did that even happen anyway?), I am not a food blogger. If you’re new here, I apologize in advance. I take my kitchen photos in real time under less-than-satisfactory lighting conditions. I don’t have fancy dishes. I’m not paying much attention to what’s in the background. I like to keep it real, and I like to save time. I also like to insert a bunch of stories and information that you don’t need. That said, here are the instructions (with bonus unneeded stories and information!) for making one of the easiest homemade desserts ever.
I love to bake as much as I can from scratch, but scratch pie crust is something I never have the desire to tackle. Luckily, you can buy packages of two rolled up pie crusts, handily (I did it again!) located in the refrigerated section of your grocery store.
Funny story: because I’m an amateur, when I got to Savannah I was looking in the freezer section for these prepared pie crusts and couldn’t find them packaged in rolls like I wanted, so I bought frozen pie crusts that were in the aluminum pans. When I pulled them out at the house I let them defrost until they were pliable and worked with them from there. I don’t recommend that because they’re messier and don’t end up as pretty, but they’ll do in a pinch!
Here at home, it occurred to me to look in the refrigerated section and that’s how I know to tell you: FIND THEM IN THE REFRIGERATED SECTION, by the rolls of cookie dough that you keep on hand at home so you can eat spoonfuls of it on the fly. Or is that just me? Never mind.
Anyway. let your pie crust rolls warm up to room temperature because they’ll be easier to work with, and then unroll them onto a piece of parchment paper. See the crack in the crust pictured above? It’s because I was impatient. No worries: if you’re impatient too you can fix those cracks by pressing the edges together.
Next, use one of those fancy circle cookie cutters to, well, cut circles. I don’t have a fancy circle cookie cutter so I used the top edge of a huge plastic cup. After cutting circles as close to each other as possible, I took the extra crust, re-rolled it out (with that cup! why dirty a rolling pin??) and was able to use most of it for circles. I got eight circles–eight hand pies!–from each pie crust roll, so if you’re an average math student you can figure out that I ended up with sixteen hand pies. I had a teeny bit of crust left and was able to use it up; more on that in a minute.
After cutting all of my circles, I got my filling ingredients together. I chopped up one and a half bananas (eat the half banana that’s left over: it’s good for you) and pulled the jar of Nutella out of my pantry. When I was at the store I also bought a jar of Reese’s chocolate peanut butter spread because for some reason Jim doesn’t like hazelnuts but will eat peanuts until the cows come home. Not that we have cows. Never mind.
Alternate filling ideas: cherry pie filling, apple pie filling, and whatever-else-you-like-in-your-normal-sized-pies filling.
Next step: I put a little bit of chopped banana (I don’t know, maybe half a teaspoon-full?) and half a teaspoon (ish!) of Nutella or Reese’s spread on each circle.
After that, I folded each circle in half, making a cute little banana and chocolate pillow. I pressed the edges together with my fingers first and then used a fork to really drive it home to those hand pies that “you’re going to stay together and not ooze filling, do you understand me???”
Once they were all pinched together and ready to go, I brushed them with an egg wash (one egg with a splash of water) so they’d brown up nicely.
Oh! I nearly forgot. I needed a way to figure out post-baking which hand pies contained Nutella (for me) and which contained Reese’s (for Jim), so I used the excess crust scraps. I rolled them into little snakes and then curled them up into cute hearts, which I put on Jim’s hand pies, OF COURSE, because I love him. (I brushed each hand pie with the egg wash first and then pushed a heart onto each one, reapplying egg wash on top after. They stuck just fine!)
Those hand pies baked for about 25 minutes at 375 degrees, but considering I’m an amateur AND I don’t know your oven, I’d check them often the first time you make them. Nothing worse than a burned hand pie. NOTHING.
Although this post seems to have gone on for ten years, I can assure you that the prep time and baking time combined was less than forty minutes. That’s crazy! I mean, LOOK AT THESE HAND PIES.
Now go make some for your loved ones, give yourself a hand (can’t stop, won’t stop!) and report back.
*insert hearts and applause hands here*