Strawberry Rhubarb Hand Pies
I recently read a quote in one of my cooking magazines that couldn’t have rung more true. I don’t remember it word for word, but the general gist was, you can buy too many carrots and beets and have them get soft and wrinkly before it’s time to use them, you can buy too many fresh herbs, and have them wilt and turn brown before you get to them – but you can NEVER buy too much fruit!
It reminded me of the time, earlier this summer, when my mom gifted me with a big bowl of black raspberries. They were fragrant, sun ripened berries that she had just picked a day or two ago. I took them home, knowing that I was going to be working all week and wouldn’t have time to do anything with them. After feeding a few to William, I laid the rest out on a few sheet trays, froze them, and poured them into freezer safe bags. We’ve now been munching on delicious blackberries all summer long – putting them on ice cream, panna cotta, and cereal. Moral of the story: no matter how busy you are, or how unreasonable it might seem to buy ALL of the peaches at the farmers market…do it! You literally can’t go wrong with fruit!
As another example, I have a VERY productive rhubarb plant in my garden. I actually split it last year and it’s right back to it’s old size already, still producing like crazy even in August. Rhubarb freezes great, so I’ve been sticking bags of it in the freezer, but I’m also trying to use it in creative ways throughout the summer too. When we were driving through the Wisconsin countryside the other day, we saw a sign for fresh picked strawberries. We stopped (I told him if I could stop for strawberries he could stop for fireworks – it works every time!) and I grabbed a few quarts from the highschool kid manning the stand.
When we got home I realized that, between the strawberries I had gotten at whole foods the other day, the new additions, and the metric ton of rhubarb sitting on the counter, it was time I made something with strawberries and rhubarb!
I actually settled on jam first, since I had SO MUCH fruit, but as I got the fruit on the stove, I started to wonder what other creative things i might be able to do with it.
And so, rhubarb strawberry cream cheese hand pies were born.
These might sound complicated, as there are three separate elements, but I promise they all come together in a snap, and can all be made the day before, so that when you’re ready to cook, you can just roll out the dough and stuff! I use soy and dairy free creamed ‘cheese’ for these as a general rule, so that the whole family can enjoy them. Honestly, I can’t even taste a difference, it just adds that subtle richness. If, however you want to use ‘normal’ cream cheese, I’ve tried that too, and it’s delicious!
Make sure that you don’t skimp on refrigerating the pie dough, and that all of your ingredients are cool when you fill the pies. As long as you crimp them well around the edges with a fork, and don’t overstuff, these guys shouldn’t leak, and they can be reheated in the toaster the next day for a healthy(ish) morning snack!
If you don’t have an abundance of strawberries on hand, feel free to mix it up with another berry and sub apple for the rhubarb. One thing that is important to note: adding the whole half of a lemon is actually important for more than just taste. Since strawberries and rhubarb are relatively low in pectin (the stuff that makes the jam jell up) you need to add the citrus to encourage the pectin in the fruit to coagulate. Without it, the jam will not get as gelatinous, and makes for a runnier pie.
- 10 oz All Purpose Flour (about 1 3/4 cups)
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1/2 cup Shortening (I used Spectrum Palm Shortening)
- 1 Egg
- 3 Tbsp Cold Water
- 1 Tbsp White Vinegar
- 1.5 Quart Strawberries, cored and halved
- 2 cups Rhubarb, cut into 1/2" pieces
- 3/4 cup Granulated Sugar
- 1/2 Medium Lemon
- 2 tsp Vanilla Extract
- 4 oz Cream Cheese (I used Diaya Dairy Free)
- 1/2 cup Powdered Sugar
- 1 tsp Vanilla
- 1 Egg, beaten
- 1/4 cup Turbinado Sugar
Whisk together the dry crust ingredients. In a 1 cup measuring cup whisk together the egg, water and vinegar.
Cut the shortening into the flour with a fork or two knives until the flour resembles course sand. Pour in the wet ingredients and stir to combine. If necessary add another tablespoon or two of water, just until the dough comes together.
Form the dough into a slightly flattened round and wrap in plastic. Place in the fridge to chill for at least one hour or overnight. (The jam and the crust can both be made in advance and then assembled the next day)
Put the strawberries and rhubarb into a 3 quart saucepan. Pour the sugar over them, stir briefly and allow to sit for 10 minutes.
While the mixture is sitting zest the lemon half, and then slice it into 3 equal rounds, discarding the end. Reserve 2 tsp of zest.
Stir the strawberry rhubarb mixture. There should be a substantial amount of juice in the bottom of the saucepan. Turn the heat to medium low and allow to cook for 15 - 20 minutes, or until the strawberries are mostly broken down. Add the lemon slices and continue to cook another 20 - 30 minutes or until the rhubarb is also broken down and the mixture has begun to thicken.
Once the mixture is thickened and bubbly, use the plate test to determine if it is done. Place a small plate in the freezer for at least 5 minutes. Take it out and spoon a teaspoon of rhubarb jam onto the plate. Draw your finger through the jam, dividing it in half. If the jam stays seperate it's ready, if it collapses back in on itself in a puddle allow it to cook for another 5 - 10 minutes and then try the test again.
Once the jam is done remove the lemon pieces and allow it to cool completely. This recipe makes enough to stuff the pies, plus have a quart jar left over. (it's delicious on toast!)
Beat the softened cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until well combined and creamy. Set aside.
Take the dough out of the fridge and allow it to set on the counter for 10 minutes.
While the dough is resting preheat the oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Set a bowl of the cream cheese filling and the rhubarb filling out. Either use a small scoop, or a tablespoon to portion the fillings.
Divide the pie dough in half. Working with one half at a time roll it out into a large rectangle about 1/4" thick. Use a pizza cutter to square off the edges, or leave them uneven for a rustic look.
Use a pizza cutter to divide the dough into four equal rectangles, cutting the dough the short way so that the rectangles are tall and skinny.
Put one tbsp of cream cheese in the bottom half of each rectangle of dough. Use a small spatula to spread it around the bottom half, leaving about 3/4 of an inch free of filling around the sides.
Add two tbsp of rhubarb mixture and spread it about the same way.
Take the top half of the dough rectangles and fold it over the bottom half with the filling. Use your fingers to firmly press the dough pieces together, then use a fork to crimp the edges.
Transfer the filled dough pockets to the prepared cookie sheet. Brush with egg and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes or until puffed and golden.
Repeat process with the second half of dough. Allow pies to cool before eating!