By Amanda Mack, courtesy of Bon Appétit magazine.
"These desserts are an homage to the Thanksgiving traditions I can't wait to get back to, except I'm putting my own spin on them this year," says baker Amanda Mack, the owner of Crust by Mack in Baltimore. "Ditch the traditional pie and try smaller ones with bolder flavor." They can be individually wrapped or placed on a beautiful platter with twine and fresh thyme. You can use frozen cherries instead of the cranberries here; just increase the cornstarch to 4 tsp. Mack's other desserts include Pecan Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Chip Cookies and Sweet Potato Cake With Salted Cream Cheese Frosting.
Flaky Cranberry Hand Pies
1 cup plus 6 Tbsp. European-style butter (82% fat; such as Kerrygold)
2 tsp. Diamond Crystal or 1 tsp. Morton kosher salt
2 cups (250 g) all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
6 Tbsp. buttermilk
Filling and assembly:
8 oz. fresh or frozen cranberries
½ cup (100 g) granulated sugar
1½ tsp. vanilla extract
1½ tsp. cornstarch
All-purpose flour (for dusting)
1 large egg
2 Tbsp. raw sugar or sanding sugar
Step 1: Cut butter into ½" pieces and freeze on a small plate 30 minutes.
Step 2: Pulse salt and 2 cups (250 g) flour in a food processor to combine. Remove butter from freezer and add to processor. Pulse until mixture is crumbly and butter is about pea-size, 30–35 quick pulses. Drizzle in buttermilk, then pulse until a rough ball forms (it will be crumbly). Be careful not to overwork dough.
Step 3: Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and press into a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill at least 1 hour.
Step 4: Do ahead: Dough can be made 1 day ahead. Keep chilled, or freeze up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in refrigerator before using.
Filling and assembly:
Step 5: While the dough chills, make the filling. Using a vegetable peeler, remove 2 wide strips of zest from orange (avoid white pith as much as possible). Thinly slice zest lengthwise, then cut strips crosswise into very small pieces. Cut orange in half and squeeze 2 Tbsp. juice into a small saucepan. Add cranberries, granulated sugar, vanilla, and 1 tsp. orange zest; stir well. Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat; simmer, stirring occasionally, until cranberries are softened, 6–8 minutes.
Step 6: Stir cornstarch and 1 Tbsp. water in a small bowl to dissolve, then add slurry to cranberry mixture. Simmer, stirring, until filling thickens and looks very shiny and glossy, 30–60 seconds. Scrape into a heatproof bowl and let cool, stirring occasionally. Cover and chill until cold, at least 1 hour.
Step 7: Roll out dough disk on a lightly floured surface to about ¼" thick. Using a 3"-diameter cookie cutter or glass, punch out rounds, transferring to a baking sheet as you go. You should get 20 rounds; chill until ready to use. Gather remaining dough scraps and press into a disk, then wrap in plastic and chill 20 minutes. Roll out dough disk and punch out as many more rounds as you can get (hopefully 8); arrange on another baking sheet.
Step 8: Whisk egg in a small bowl. Remove rounds from fridge and brush edges of each round with egg. Spoon a heaping teaspoonful of filling into the center of half of the rounds. Drape remaining rounds, egg-brushed sides down, on top and crimp edges with a fork to seal. Set remaining egg wash aside. Place pies on a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze 15 minutes.
Step 9: Meanwhile, place a rack in middle of oven; preheat to 400°.
Step 10: Cut a small slit in the top of each pie, brush with reserved egg, then sprinkle with raw sugar. Line a second baking sheet with parchment paper and divide pies between sheets, spacing at least 2" apart. Bake until crusts are golden brown and fillings are bubbling, 16–18 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool until warm.
Step 11: Do ahead: Filling can be made 5 days ahead; keep chilled, or freeze up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in refrigerator before using. Hand pies can be baked 1 day ahead; let cool. Store airtight at room temperature.