Bourbon-Cherry Hand Pies

DSCN2255How’s your 4th of July party planning coming along?  Are you like me, racking your brain for a clever and patriotic dessert sure to delight the masses?  You can never go wrong with a flag cake made of strawberries, blueberries, and whipped cream, because, really, who doesn’t like (nay, love) berries ‘n cream?  However, if you’re looking for something that tackles Americana from a slightly different angle, I think that I may have a solution.

Well… seeing as Americans love pie, bourbon is a distinctly American liquor, and cherries are presently in season, hows about we make a bourbon and cherry pie?  Did you just start playing “Cherry Pie” by Warrant in your head?  I did.  To kick things up a notch, why not make them single-serve hand pies, too?  Yes, please.

I’m a fan of any cherry for the purposes of making pie, but for this go-around, I went with bing cherries.  Their deep crimson color is particularly eye-catching, and they’re not quite as sweet at Rainiers or as tart as pie cherries.  This subdued sweetness wonderfully pairs with the vanilla notes in bourbon.  This pie will turn out like the edible version of a Manhattan.  Very American, indeed.

Bourbon-Cherry Handpies

Makes 6 hand pies

Filling Ingredients:

1.5 lbs bing cherries (or the cherries of your choosing), pitted and halved

3 oz. bourbon

1/3 cup turbinado (raw) sugar

2 Tbs. flour

Crust Ingredients

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. salt

10 Tbs. (1 1/4 sticks) cold, unsalted butter

1/2 cup buttermilk


1/3 cup buttermilk

1/4 cup turbinado (raw) sugar

To Make the Crust:

In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, and butter.  Using either a pastry blender or your fingers, blend the butter into the flour until it’s reduced to pea-sized pieces and the mixture resembles course oatmeal.  Create a small well in the center of the mixture, and add about half of the 1/2 cup of buttermilk.  Using a large spatula, combine the buttermilk and flour mixture.  Continue adding the buttermilk, about 1 Tbs. at a time, until the mixture comes together in a shaggy ball.  You may have to use your hands to get it all to stick together.  Form the dough into a disk, wrap it in plastic wrap, and allow it to chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

To Make the Filling:

In a medium bowl, combine the pitted and halved cherries and the bourbon.  Allow the cherries to soak in the bourbon for at least an hour or, preferably, overnight.  Toss the cherries every once in a while to make sure that they are evenly coated in bourbon.  Just before using, add the 1/3 cup sugar and flour, stirring to combine.  Set aside until ready to use.

To Assemble the Pies:

Preheat the oven to 375F.

Roll out the chilled crust dough until about 1/4″ thin.  Using a hand pie mold (I found one for $6 at Target) or a 5″ cookie cutter, cut six circles out of the dough.  Using your finger, wet the perimeter of the circles with water; this will help the pies stay shut when you fold them over.  Fill each pie with 1/4 – 1/3 cup of the pie filling.  Fold over the pie crust, creating a semi-circle.  Use your fingers to pinch and crease the pie closed.

Transfer the hand pies to a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet.  Brush each pie with buttermilk and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.  Use a small knife to cut 1″ slits in the top of each pie.  Bake the pies for 30-35 minutes, until golden brown.  Allow to cool on a baking sheet for at least 10 minutes before serving.  Enjoy!


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