I have a snacking problem. Mainly, I find it really hard to snack in moderation. I've given this problem a lot of deep thought, and I've finally figured out why: it's because I have to have a balance of sweet and savory. If I snack on something sweet, I end up craving something salty, and then something sweet again, and then something salty, and then... well, you get the picture. It's *not* a pretty sight.
Having identified the problem (yay, me!), I set about to try to solve it. Was there a way to get both sweet and savory in one bite in wonderful snack form? This is what I came up with: white cheddar and cinnamon apple hand pies.
The solution seemed so simple, really--actually, staring me in the face at the market, which is currently brimming with crisp apples galore!, with every variety you've heard of and some hierloom varieties you've never heard of (and some varieties even the farmers themselves have never heard of--no joke, they sell these as "unknown" varieties). "Apples," I thought to myself (a lot of thinking to myself is involved in my life--it may or may not be a good thing), "apples make a healthy snack." And so it was, me carrying bagfuls of apples home, only to be combined with butter and sugar in pie form. ("healthy" is a relative term....)
Of course, the salty ingredient to go with tart, juicy, cinnamon-y apples would have to be cheddar. Preferably the sharpest white cheddar you can find in the store, so that the flavor pops out in the pie crust. (Also, I used white cheddar for you East Coast folks who are always complaining that our West Coast yellow cheddar just doesn't cut it--happy now?) And, of course the form factor had to be something that could fit conveniently in one hand and be eaten on the go: it's supposed to be snack food after all!
[click on photo for larger image]
The result was a hand pie that is the perfect marriage of sweet and savory, tart and spiced and salty and sharp. The dough flakes off like soft, lightly crisped shards of cheesy butter straight into your mouth, revealing an inside of warm, sweet, fruity apple pie filling, all topped off with a tiny bit of coarse sugar crunch sprinkled on the outside. When baking, these pies fill the house with a wonderfully complex aroma--baking cheese wafting through the rooms to give way to the amazing smell of bubbling apples. Even though I usually open all of the windows when I bake, this time I closed all of the windows and doors of the house to keep the autumnal scents in just a little bit longer. Also, these hand pies are great snack foods because you can prep a bunch ahead of time and stick un-baked ones in the freezer in a zip-top bag, popping one or two in the oven as needed whenever you want.
I have to say that hands down, these cheddar apple hand pies are some of my favorite baked goods that I've made, like, ever--I kid you not. You *must* try these. They were definitely the sweet-and-savory, one-bite-has-it-all snacks I was looking for to fix my snacking problem.... but.... there's only one issue....
It appears that I made them too delicious to just eat one (or two or three) of. Oops.
Welcome to November, everyone!
Read on for recipe....
White Cheddar and Cinnamon Apple Hand Pies
makes ~12-14 pies
2 cups (260 gr) AP flour
1/4 tspn salt
4 oz.(113 gr) extra sharp white cheddar cheese
2/3 cup (151 gr) butter, cold
5-6 Tbspn water, cold
500 gr apples
1 Tbspn lemon juice
1/4 cup (25 gr) sugar
1 tspn ground cinnamon
1/8 tspn ground cloves
1/2 tspn freshly grated nutmeg
1. Combine the flour and salt in a bowl.
2. Coarsely grate the cheese. Using a pastry cutter, cut in the cheese and cold butter into the flour until the size of small peas.
3. Gradually add the water one tablespoon at a time until the dough holds together when pressed. Do not overmix!
4. Wrap the dough in parchment paper or plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour.
5. Meanwhile, prepare the filling. Peel, core, and chop the apples into small chunks. Toss to combine the apples with the lemon juice, sugar, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg.
6. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
7. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll it out to about 1/8" thick. Cut out 5 inch circles. Fill each circle with apples and fold in half. Press the edges together tightly, crimping with a fork. Cut three small slits on the top of each pie. Chill the pies in the refrigerator or freezer briefly if the dough has softened.
8. Before baking, brush the tops of the pies with heavy cream. Sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
9. Bake at 450 degrees F for five minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees and continue baking for 15 more minutes, until the crust is golden.
10. Remove from oven and cool briefly before serving.