Both sides of my brain agree: these are amazing!
The art (project) of baking
When it comes to left brain-right brain categories, my head definitely tilts to the right. I was never good at math and science, I hate to admit, but it is odd that I love processes and procedures — more of a left-brain category. You’re probably wondering what this has to do with my recipe for Blueberry Mint Hand Pies, right (or left)?
I love to bake. It’s creative and process-oriented, and you have to be precise with your ingredients otherwise there’s no telling what you’ll end up with. But it can also be a fulfilling creative activity, like when you’re detailing lattices for pie crusts or forming bread rolls. My head is really happy when I bake — I get to use both sides of my brain!
Sometimes the past is best left in the past
I recently saw a recipe in Bon Appétit magazine for hand pies. The idea of the hand pie intrigued me — they reminded me (in theory) of the packaged fruit pies you may remember as a kid. Back in the day, my mom would occasionally pack one of those pies in my lunchbox (but just half a pie) as a treat. The photos of Bon Appétit’s hand pies were beautiful! They looked nothing like the pies from childhood with their beige shell and thin, glazed icing, and I was willing to bet they didn’t taste like them either! My brain was churning.
Believe it or not, the recipe calls for pre-packaged puff pastry. This is a bonus as far as I’m concerned, since the whole making/chilling/baking process was a little time-consuming (but definitely worth it).
I set about with my preparations and it was definitely a treat for me — I felt like I was working on an art project! When the Blueberry Mint Hand Pies were finished, they were beautiful to see and they were delicious. Happy brain, happy taste buds and tummy.
Recipe adapted from Bon Appétit magazine.
Recipe for Blueberry Mint Hand Pies:
Makes 9 pies
- 1-1/2 Tablespoons cornstarch & 1-1/2 Tablespoons cold water
- 2 cups fresh blueberries (or 12 oz. frozen, unthawed)
- 2/3 cup dried blueberries (Craisins makes them)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint leaves
- Zest of one large lemon
- Juice of one large lemon
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1, 14-ounce package of puff pastry dough thawed in refrigerator (Use both sheets, one at a time. You may have a little dough left over)
- Flour for dusting work surface
- 1 large egg white
- 1-1/2 Tablespoons raw sugar for topping
- Line one large, or two regular-sized baking sheets with parchment paper.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and cold water to make a thin paste and set aside.
- In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine the fresh & dried blueberries, sugar, mint, lemon zest, lemon juice and salt together. Stir occasionally and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the blueberries release their juices.
- Add the cornstarch mixture to the berry mixture and bring to a boil stirring often. ** You may need to add a bit more cornstarch to thicken the berry mixture. After it reaches a boil, remove it from the heat and set it aside. Let cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough, one sheet at a time, to form a rectangle about 18"x15" in size. Use a sharp knife or pizza cutter to make 9, 6"x5" rectangles.
- In a small bowl, whisk the egg white together with about 1 Tablespoon of cold water to make your egg wash.
- Working with the small rectangles, brush the edges with the egg wash. Scoop about 2 big Tablespoons of the berry mixture toward one side of the rectangle. Fold the dough over the filling (so the short ends meet). Crimp the edges with a fork to seal the packets. Use a sharp knife to cut a few slits into the packet so air escapes while they bake. Place each packet onto your baking sheet.
- Brush the tops of each packet with the egg wash and sprinkle with the raw sugar. Chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.
- Bake pies until the tops are golden, for about 30-40 minutes.
- Let cool on the baking sheets for about 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to allow pies to cool completely.