Sunday, July 15, 2018

Coconut Cream Hand Pies

Whenever there is a gathering of people and food is included, there are always the two extremes. There is the one person that has several helpings and one person that seems to leave 1/4 of a piece of something on the serving plate. The first person I do not have an issue with, it is the one that eats like a bird, cutting one serving into tiny bits. Apparently I am not the only one, because at the sight of the tiny remain, someone always says "why didn't they just take the whole thing and eat what they want?"

So in response to that situation, I have made mini, bite-sized pies. These pies are created from a 3 inch round of dough that is folded. Perfect for those that want to sample, but not really eat a lot. In addition, the big eaters can grab an handful. Now everyone is happy. A hand-held in a pie is also a trouble free (no cutting, no scooping out of pan...) way to serve as well as eat.

While the traditional thought on hand pies is that they are made of fruit, this recipe indicates that cream pies can be converted to this form. The crispy, flaky dough is drizzled with chocolate and surrounds a sweet coconut filling. Deliciously tropical and snack size, these pies are great item to bring out to the crowd this summer. Be sure to consider the chill time for the dough and filling when planning to create these. The recipe makes about 2 dozen mini pies.

Coconut Hand Pies
adapted from Taste of the South

1 cup cubed unsalted butter (ice cold)
4-8 tbs ice water
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups flour

2 egg yolks (room temp)
1 large egg (room temp)
1 cup whole milk
1/2 tsp coconut extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbs butter
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbs cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup or 4 oz semi-sweet chocolate
1/2 cup sweetened coconut ( more for toasting and garnishing if desired)

Create the dough by first whisking together the dry ingredients (salt, flour, sugar). Add a few butter cubes at a time and blend into clumps using a pastry cutter. Continue with the process until all the butter is incorporated into the dry blend. Using clean hands, form the mixture into a dough by adding and blending ice water (1 tablespoon at a time) until desired consistency is met. Dust a flat surface with flour and top with the ball of dough. Divide into 2 equal parts and flatten each into 5-6 inch disks. Cover each in plastic wrap and place in refrigerator to chill for a minimum of 2 hours.

As the dough is chilling, make the filling. Whisk together milk, coconut extract and vanilla extract in a small saucepan and place over medium high heat. Continue to stir and the liquid heats up. At the boiling point, remove from heat and set aside.

Using a heat proof bowl, combine yolks, sugar, cornstarch and salt until evenly blended together. Slowly stream in 1/2 cup of the hot milk mixture, while constantly whisking the liquid. Empty the mixture back into the saucepan with the remaining milk blend. Place over medium high heat again, whisking as it cooks. Mixture will thicken and leave a line in the bottom of the saucepan when scraped with a wooden spoon. This should take between 5-7 minutes cook time.

Remove saucepan from heat and mix in the coconut and the butter. Stir the mixture until the butter melts and the coconut is evenly distributed. Transfer filling to a heat proof bowl and cover the surface of the filling with plastic wrap. Place in refrigerator to chill for a minimum of 1 hour.

Once all the components are completely chilled, preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Also, blend together the whole egg in a small bowl using a fork.

Dust a flat surface with flour and take out one disk of dough. Roll the mass out until it is 1/8 of an inch thick. Cut out rounds with a three inch cutter and place each on the prepared baking sheets. Using your fingertips, rub a 1/4 inch border of the blended egg around the surface edges of the circle. Place one tablespoon of filling on the upper half of the circle. Fold dough in half and pinch edges together with your fingers and then seal with tines of fork. Dip top of pie into bowl of egg and let excess drip off. Place pie back on baking sheet, egg side up. Cut tiny vents on the top.

Place in oven and let bake for 10 minutes, then rotate and bake for an additional 12-15 minutes. Pies are done when golden brown on top edges. Remove and let pies completely cool on pans.

Repeat the process by re-rolling scraps and then cutting out more circles, filling and sealing. Then bake as instructed. Do the same for the additional dough disk in the refrigerator.

Once all the pies have been baked and cooled, melt the chocolate by using a double boiler or microwave. If using the microwave, heat for 30 seconds and then stir. Repeat in 30 second intervals until all is melted. Drizzle chocolate over tops of pies. If desired, toast some coconut in the oven and sprinkle over top. Let set before serving.

Tips and Notes:
1. Since coconut cream pies are an icebox pie, I store these in the refrigerator and serve cold.

2. Pies do not expand very much when baking, so they can be placed very close together on the baking sheet.

3. If I was to make them again, I would make them an inch larger. This would require adjustments to make more filling and more dough.

4. Feel free to experiment with other cream pies.
                            **LAST YEAR: Chocolate Banana Loaf Cake**