Serves: Yields approximately 24 mini-pocket pies or 8 double-crust individual pies
- 2 cups (16 ounces) cranberry or berry juice
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon water
- ½ pint (8 ounces) fresh strawberries, hulled and chopped into ¼-inch pieces
Easy Cream Cheese Pie Dough:
- 1½ cups (7½ ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon sugar (omit for savory pastry)
- Pinch of salt
- 1 stick (4 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces
- 1 (8-ounce) package cold cream cheese, cut into 9 pieces
Procedures:These mini-pies are filled with a sweet and tart filling made with fresh strawberries and glazed with lemon. They’re perfect for picnics, after-school treats or as a nostalgic addition to a dessert buffet.- From The Art & Soul of Baking by Sur La Table and Cindy Mushet.
Easy Cream Cheese Pie Dough
A nearly foolproof alternative to flaky dough, cream cheese dough can be made in the food processor in a couple of minutes. Rich cream cheese takes the place of water and helps to bring the dough together. The high proportion of fat means it’s practically impossible to toughen the pastry.
Place the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of the food processor and process for 10 seconds to blend. Add the cold butter pieces and process for 8 to 10 seconds, until the mixture looks like bread crumbs. Add the cream cheese and pulse 30 times (1-second pulses), or until large, shaggy clumps of dough form.
Turn the shaggy mass out onto a work surface and knead gently 2 or 3 times to create a cohesive dough. If you are making turnovers or dumplings, flatten into a 7-inch square (about ¾-inch thick) and wrap in plastic. (For a pie, shape the dough into a ¾"-inch thick round.) Chill for 30 minutes.
Place the dough on a lightly floured surface. If you are making turnovers or dumplings, roll into a square about ⅛ inch thick. Use a chef's knife to trim to a 15-inch square. Use the ruler to mark 5-inch increments along all sides of the dough. With the ruler as a guide, cut the dough into 9 (5-inch) squares.
Storing: Place rolled-out squares between sheets of parchment or wax paper on a baking sheet, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for up to 2 days. You may also freeze them, layered between sheets of parchment, wrapped in plastic and sealed in a resealable plastic freezer bag or airtight container, for up to 2 months.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees and place a rack in the upper and lower thirds.
To prepare strawberry filling, combine juice, sugar, cinnamon sticks, and vanilla bean paste in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together cornstarch and water until smooth. Pour the cornstarch mixture into the boiling juice, whisking constantly. Cook until the liquid thickens, about 1 to 2 minutes. Cool completely and stir in strawberries. To speed cooling, place the bowl of strawberry filling in a larger bowl of ice and cold water and stir occasionally.
To assemble pocket pies, remove pie dough from the refrigerator about 15 minutes before rolling. Generously flour a work surface and place chilled dough disk on the flour. Dust the top of the dough with flour. Using a rolling pin, roll chilled dough into a circle, turning and flipping the dough as needed with a bench scraper to prevent sticking, until the circle measures 16 inches wide and less than 1/8 inch thick. Using a 4-inch round cookie cutter, cut 24 circles of dough, rerolling once as needed. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together eggs and water for egg wash.
Place 2 teaspoons of strawberry filling in the center of each dough circle. Using a fingertip or small brush, coat the dough edge halfway around with egg wash. Fold uncoated dough edge over to create a half-circle shape and press to seal and remove any air bubbles. Place assembled pocket pies on a parchment paper-lined sheet tray. Continue with remaining dough circles and freeze assembled pies for 30 minutes before baking. Save remaining egg wash.
Baking and serving: Remove pocket pies from freezer and cut a small slit in the top of each with a sharp paring knife. Brush tops of pies with egg wash to coat. Place pans in preheated oven and bake until pocket pies are golden brown, about 12 to 15 minutes. Remove pans from oven and allow pies to cool for 5 minutes. Using a large spatula, transfer pies to a cooling rack to cool completely.
To serve, drizzle glaze over pocket pies and serve at room temperature.
Making a lemon glaze: Sift powdered sugar into a medium mixing bowl. Whisk the lemon juice and zest into the sugar until a smooth glaze forms. Use less lemon juice for a glaze that covers thickly or use a little more water for a thinner, more transparent glaze.