A few weeks ago, in the run-up to the annual ritual I’ve established of absolutely losing my mind over Halloween, I bought a set of three Wilton cookie cutters: a pumpkin, a bat, and a candy corn. I really only bought it for the bat, but the set of three was cheaper than the single bat option the store had and I liked the cut of the Wilton bat’s jib better. I figured I could just pitch the other two or whatever. But then I was looking at the pumpkin cookie cutter and thinking about how I had a package of refrigerated pie crust in my fridge and was like, “I could make a darling hand pie with that thing. And, like, fill it with jam? Because I’ve got 30 blasted jars of jam in my fridge even though I don’t eat jam and right. I shall do this!”
Then I mentioned the idea to a certain editrix and she threatened me with murder if I didn’t write it for the internet and she wants the police to know she’s just kidding but I’m not so sure about that SO HERE ARE INSTRUCTIONS.
Tools and Such:
1 pumpkin-shaped cookie cutter
Pie crust, rolled out
A teaspoon measuring spoon
A cookie sheet
Egg or milk wash glaze
Festive sanding sugars and/or other decorations
Instructions and Such:
If you’re using homemade pie dough — and by all means you should do so if you are into that sort of thing! — roll out your dough to about a ½” thickness. If you’re using refrigerated pie dough — which is what I do because I am rolling pin-challenged and so even though I’m a baking-type person I made a lifestyle choice to not ever go there with homemade dough, the judgement of others be damned. I guess that’s one nice thing about being olden: I feel that I’ve reached an age and level of accomplishment such that I don’t give a fig, really, what others have to say about things like the fact that I don’t make homemade pie crust. — let it come up to cooler-than-room-temp-but-warmer-than-refrigerator-temp and unroll it into a flat disc.
Using your cookie cutter, cut out an even number of pumpkins. My roll of Pillsbury pie crust yielded 8 pumpkins, enough for four “pumpkin” pies. The optional flour is there in case you want/need to dip your cookie cutter in to create a cleaner cut. This mostly depends on how sticky your dough is. I used the flour but probably didn’t really need to.
Once you have your even number of pumpkins, go ahead and remove the excess dough, form it into a ball, cover it in plastic wrap and toss it in the fridge; you can probably get another hand pie or two out of it.
Hand pie. That’s a funny thing to say, isn’t it?
Now take half of your pumpkins and put about a teaspoon of jam in the center of each. You’ll be tempted to put more in, but resist that urge. You don’t want to overfill the pies, which will cause the filling to ooze out during baking. So just, like, a blurt of jam will do it.
Next you’ll top each jam-blurted pumpkin with an un-blurted pumpkin. Then, using your fingers, sort of gently pinch the outer edges together, followed by tamping them down with the tines of a fork. Crimping — that’s the term I should be using here but that just makes me think of the ugly hairstyles we wore in the ’80s and scaaaaary.
Here’s where the optional fun comes in: you can do as I did with one of the “pumpkins” and brush a little food coloring on to make the dough appear orange. If you’re using homemade pie dough you can add food coloring right in while you’re mixing it so your dough is orange from the get-go. You could also do a little egg or milk wash to make the dough shiny. This is a very neat and helpful tutorial on the effect different dough washes have on the finished product that you should certainly check out! You could also use sanding sugar or decorative jimmies to adorn your pies. The sky, she is the limit!
You can, of course, also fill your pies with just about anything! Do you want them to be actual pumpkin pies? Use pumpkin jam, pumpkin butter or pumpkin pie filling. Do you prefer a savory pie? How about some gorgonzola and fig-stuffed “pumpkin” pies? Or spicy mustard and Gruyere “pumpkin” pies? Or diced pepperoni and mozzarella “pumpkin” pies? Literally “pumpkin” pizza rolls and wow, I just died a little bit of joy at that thought. There are so many combinations and things that would be awesome in these babies.
One thing to note is that because you have to use your filling sparingly, these pies really and truly benefit from a dusting of something over the top to give the dough a little flavor. So either a sugar sanding or, if you’ve gone the savory route, a dusting of cheese or sesame seeds or some such will make an enormous difference in the relative deliciousness of your hand pies.
The last step is to transfer your hand pies to a cookie sheet, and put them in the oven. Bake ’em at 400 degrees for 15 or so minutes; that ought to do it for you.
And the best part is that people will think you’re sooooooo clever that they probably won’t even take the time to shame you for using refrigerated pie crust. And if they do, you send them my way. I’ve got some razor blade-filled hand pies just waiting for their sort.