Title: Handheld Pies: Dozens of pint-size sweets and savories
Authors: Sarah Billingsley & Rachel Wharton
Photographs: Ellen Silverman
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Publisher Address: 680 Second Street, San Francisco, California 94107
Small Pies reportedly are the new mini-dessert trend. Based on testing a number of recipes presented in this book, I understand why. One of the joys of small foods comes from eating. It’s just more fun. At the authors state, it’s okay to eat with your hands.
Handheld foods, in fact, have a long history in human culture. Farmers, peasants and many others needed nourishment that could be prepared in advance, carried along to labor and eaten during the day. Handheld pies takes this common tradition to elevated levels.
One thing I enjoyed about the structure of the book is the “Nuts and Bolts” section. Here, you choose and match the type of crust you want with the type of filling. Such flexibility means you can adjust to what’s hanging around your kitchen—some leftover cream cheese? Make cream cheese pie crust. Or perhaps you have plenty of butter but no fresh fruit—not to worry, you can still have a great fruit pie.
Freezing individual servings is also a boon to for the busy kitchen. The authors give you even more options for this technique than others, such as “Mini-Pies” from other authors (a great cookbook that teases the freezing idea). This book really develops the idea.
When it came to eating the recipes, we had a couple clear favorites. Despite the fact all the tests were voted a success, you definitely want to try the Orange Marmalade-Mascarpone Pop Tarts. The Farmer Cheese Pie was also a favorite. The all-out winner however, was the Dried Apple and Raisin Filling recipe. Although most recommended for a fried pie, no one on test-day minded that it was served in the tested Sturdy Cream Cheese Crust recipe.
Dried Apple and Raisin Filling
3 cups dried apples
3 cups apple cider
½ cup dark or golden raisins
3 tbsp firmly packed light or dark brown sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of kosher salt
I was a little short on raisins when making this recipe. As mentioned by the authors, I substituted some dried cranberries for the remainder and we all loved the results.
If you want to get in on the fun and trend of the small-pie craze, this book will get you well equipped. You’ll get good instructions, complete suggestions, and ways to mix or match as needed.