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Even though they’ve become trite and cliched, I love miniature desserts. First of all, you can have more than one without feeling incessantly guilty for eating more than one dessert. Eating two mini cupcakes? Totally different than eating two full-sized cupcakes.
Well, to me, anyway. You see, as much as I joke about excessive French fry consumption and the inability to stop after one cookie, eating healthy is sometimes an uphill battle for me. It’s not that I don’t like to eat vegetables (love them!) or want to eat the foods that make me feel stronger, lighter and more energetic (I do!), but I’ve never been blessed with a small frame or a speedy metabolism. And yet, I like to eat. I like to eat real food, including the occasional indulgent dessert. Therefore I have an especially strong appreciation for individually portioned desserts.
After college, I realized that some of the Freshman 15 (well, it was more than 15 but let’s just leave it at that) was still hanging out so I dieted with Weight Watchers and lost some of the weight. Then, life happened and I was busy and stressed and for most of 2007 I ate oatmeal for breakfast and Tasti Delite for dinner with a salad in between if I was lucky and could tear myself away from my desk.
To make a long story short, suddenly I needed to gain weight. After being just slightly overweight for such a long time throughout college I couldn’t fathom the idea of purposely trying to send the scale in the opposite direction, so it wasn’t easy for me to start changing my eating habits to accommodate a weight gain.
Once I did, though, I had no problem eating a little extra ice cream and replacing salads with homemade macaroni and cheese. Around the same time I moved to Chicago and discovered new friends, new restaurants and parties where there was never a shortage of food and drink.
I think the point I am trying to make is that I have a relatively healthy relationship with food and you wouldn’t look at me and think there were struggles. My figure is pretty average and my size is probably below the American norm. Yet, it’s never been easy for me to say no to dessert or to or to choose fruit instead of ice cream. Sometimes, that’s okay. I think that everyone needs to find a balance between food and exercise that works for you, which certainly isn’t easy. I am getting there though and I think that my healthy balance just might include individual cherry pies.
Cherry Hand Pies
Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 cups fresh cherries, stemmed and pitted, or about 12 ounces frozen pitted cherries, unthawed
2/3 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1 14-ounce package all-butter puff pastry (preferably Dufour), thawed in refrigerator
Flour (for dusting)
1 large egg white
1 1/2 teaspoons raw sugar
Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Stir cornstarch and 1 1/2 tablespoons cold water in a small bowl to blend. Combine fresh cherries and next 4 ingredients in a large saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until cherry juices are released, about 5 minutes. Add cornstarch mixture; bring to a boil, stirring often. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.
Roll out pastry on a lightly floured surface to an 18×15″ rectangle. Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut dough into nine 6×5″ rectangles. Whisk egg white and 1 tablespoon water in another small bowl for egg wash.
Working with 1 pastry rectangle at a time, place on a work surface and brush edges with egg wash. Scoop 3 tablespoons cherry mixture onto one side; fold dough over filling so that short ends meet, forming a 5×3″ packet. Crimp edges with a fork to seal. Using a sharp knife, cut a few slits in top of pie to vent. Place on prepared baking sheet; repeat with remaining dough and filling.
Brush tops with egg wash, then sprinkle with raw sugar. Chill for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375°. Bake pastries until tops and bottoms are golden brown, 30-40 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes on baking sheet. Transfer to wire racks; let cool completely. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Let stand at room temperature.Print This Recipe