(makes approximately ten 3 1/2 " hearts)
one recipe chilled pate brisee dough (or tart dough from Meyer Lemon Raspberry Tart)
one 3 and 1/2" heart shaped cookie cutter
3 cups cubed apples (I used Granny Smith and Honey Crisp, Rome works well too)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon cornstarch
zest of one lemon
1/4 cup cooled caramel sauce (if apples are very tart, add another Tablespoon of caramel)
Egg wash- 1 egg yolk combined with 2 Tab. milk or cream
Caramel Sauce (courtesy of Leslie Mackie's Macrina Bakery Cookbook)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 Tablespoons sweet butter
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 Tablespoons bourbon (optional)
In heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat sugar and water over medium heat. Stir with a whisk just to combine. Brush sides of the pan with a pastry brush to prevent sugar crystals from forming. The sugar mixture will turn from light brown to dark amber; carefully swirl the pan to keep the heat even. Don't turn your back on the caramel- it can go from amber to burnt in a flash. Add the cream slowly- mixture will steam and get foamy. Whisk gently to combine, then add butter, sea salt and bourbon. Let cool completely before using in Apple Hand Pies.
The apples should be peeled and cut into small cubes (about 1/4" pieces). Toss the apples with the spices, cornstarch, and zest. Set aside while you cut out the dough hearts. The dough should be rolled 1/8" thick; you don't want it to get too thick and overpower the filling. After you have cut 20 hearts, place them on a parchment lined cookie sheet and place in the fridge. Give the apple/spice mixture a stir, then add the cooled caramel and combine gently. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
Remove dough from fridge and paint a very thin line of the egg wash around what will be the bottom of the hearts. Place 1 Tablespoon of apple/caramel filling on 10 of the dough hearts, top with another piece of dough, pressing the edges together to seal. I just use my fingers, but you can use a fork if you wish. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sanding sugar. Return the hand pies to the fridge and let them chill for 15 minutes. This is really important- if the dough isn't cold, the pies start to lose their shape and look a bit broken-hearted. After 15 minutes of chilling, the pies are ready to go into the hot oven. I start them at 425 and after 10 minutes, turn the oven down to 400 and let them finish baking for another 5 minutes or so. It all depends on how golden you like your crust. The apples bake fairly quickly- you can pierce one of the pies with a small paring knife just to make sure. These are delicious served warm with a liberal drizzle of the remaining caramel sauce. A little vanilla ice cream can't heart, I mean, hurt, either.