I should most definitely not be writing about cherry hand pies right now, for a few different reasons, but sometimes you just want to write the words that you want to write. I’ve worked really hard to get to a point in life where I get paid to write full time, but being paid to write full time means that you don’t have a lot of words left when it comes time to write the free ones.
I know I’ve been a bad blogger, and that that doesn’t necessarily come as a surprise anymore. But this year has just been… something else. At the moment, I’m working as the writer/script coordinator of a radio show and translating two books, one fiction, one non. I’m still trying to build the skeleton of my own book, but that’s been pushed to the back burner for now. There’s some other stuff mixed in there, too, but it’s really not important. What is important is that I get summer cherries off my chest, because it’s now October, and I’ve basically missed apple season, and squash is rolling past now, at this point.
I am cooking, and baking, when I can grab a window. But everything is so cerebral these days that, when I get the time to make something, I don’t want to process it. I don’t want to measure and take notes or photos. I just want to be absorbed in my senses — smell, taste and feel. I want to set out to make banana bread, sprinkle in spices until the batter sings when I lick it off the spoon, add a frosting at the last minute by pouring in a little of this, a little of that, until it looks good, and dump a cap full of rum into the pot of caramel drizzle to watch it sizzle up the sides, without thinking, “I should write this down…”
But enough of that right? The important thing is, cherry hand pies. I have a thing with these. Not these ones, actually, but the Hostess kind. We didn’t have a lot when I was growing up, but there was a shop across the railroad tracks that sold a bunch of industrialized bakery items that were about to go off at a massive discount, and my mother would take us there about once every week or two. When we went, if we were lucky, we would get to choose one thing to have as a snack. My brother tended to go for something different every time, but I snatched up a Hostess cherry fruit pie without fail.
If you can get those delicious little chalky bars of preservatives here in Korea, I don’t know where, and that’s probably a good thing, because I suspect they wouldn’t bring quite as much joy to my adult palate. I once tried Hamburger Helper in college for nostalgia’s sake, and it was a mistake. As was the one time in 15 years I decided to eat at Taco Bell. Some things are better left to the hazy romance of memory and childhood tastebuds.
But these were lovely, and did just enough to stroke the angry little ball of homesickness I’d been sheltering in my gut until it purred, rolled over and stretched out for a nap in the sun.
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons ice water
- 1 egg + 1 tablespoon water for egg wash
- 2 1/2 cups cherries, pitted and halved
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/2 cup cream cheese, room temperature
- 2-3 tablespoons milk
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- Combine the flour, butter, salt and ice-cold water in a large bowl and mix with a fork or pastry cutter until the mixture just holds together when you squeeze it.
- Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and roll it out into a rectangle. Fold the rectangle into thirds, like a letter. Roll it out again and fold it again. Repeat one more time.
- Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 2 hours.
- Remove the dough from the fridge and repeat the rolling and folding three more times. Wrap it again and let it chill for at least 4 hours.
- Combine the cherries, sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a saucepan. Heat over medium heat while stirring until the fruit is falling apart, about 6 minutes.
- Remove the filling from the stove and let it cool.
- Preheat the oven to 400F (205C).
- On a floured surface, roll out the dough and cut out 10 circles about 5 inches in diameter.
- Fill the center of the circles with the filling and fold them over in half, pressing the edges with a wet fork to close them. Use a sharp knife to cut a slit in the center of the pies on one side.
- Lay the pies out on a cookie sheet lined parchment paper. Whisk together the egg and water for the egg wash and lightly brush the pies with the egg wash.
- Bake the pies until they are golden-brown and puffy, about 20 minutes.
- When the pies have completely cooled from the oven, whisk together the cream cheese, milk and powdered sugar. Drizzle the icing over the top of the pies, and let it set before serving.