Whole grain caramel apple hand pies
I'm sitting in the dining room of our guesthouse in Reykjavik right now, listening to Sigur Rós and watching the rain as it splatters against the 15 foot window while the wind blows something fierce. Thom's upstairs taking a nap because, unlike someone, he didn't get to sleep for (almost) the entire flight. I slept from 20 minutes after we took off until 20 minutes prior to landing - which I owe, in large part, to reserving the aisle and window seats. Not a single person on that plane decided to book the seat between us (which I was hoping would happen, but wasn't counting on it), so that meant I got to lay across the entire row and catch some zzz's. Rather, I got to curl up in the fetal position across two seats, with my big head resting against Thom's thigh. For reasons beyond me, he let me get some necessary shut eye even though he was unsuccessful in falling asleep in the one-of-four rows that didn't have reclining seats because someone didn't pay attention to the fact that they booked the seats directly in front of the emergency exit.
I owe him. Big time. Especially because when we arrived in Reykjavik at 7 this morning, well-rested me was ready to hit the ground running and, although I'm sure he would have much rather slept the entire day, he accompanied me as we covered a decent part of the city on foot. We ate and we drank, and after polishing off a big ass beer just shortly after lunch, we decided to head back to the warm house so he could finally get some much needed rest.
So the good news is, we're back in Iceland (!) and I couldn't be happier. The other good new is that I've partnered with the Grain Foods Foundation to bring you some whole grain goodness this holiday season. Because I'm fairly certain that each of us would benefit from adding a few more wholesome ingredients to our diets, especially this time of year. So in attempt to keep us from defaulting to recipes that rely on the heavily processed stuff, I've created one that you can feel good about taking to your holiday celebrations. One that not only includes whole grain flour, but ingredients that are far more nutritious (not to be confused with healthy) than their processed counterparts (sup coconut oil + sucanat). If you're looking for some other whole grain holiday recipes, how about mini pumpkin pies, caramel apple crumb pie, gingerbread bundt cake, or speculoos swirl brownies? Each recipe is made with with spelt flour, but feel free to substitute whole wheat flour (or a combination of the two).
And this is where I leave you with hand pies. Because there's a sleeping man who wanted to be woken up about 20 minutes ago and two bellies that need to be filled with food. And booze.
Notes: Feel free to use any combination of your favorite whole grain flours. If you'd prefer to make empanadas (half-moon hand pies) I suggest using a round cutter at least 3 3/4" in diameter. If sticking to the round pies, you can use a cookie cutter up to 3 1/2" in diameter, but I prefer my hand pies on the smaller side so I used a 3" cutter. If you don't have any experience making coconut oil pie crust, I highly recommend taking a good look at this recipe and trying to familiarize yourself with the technique. It's not difficult, but takes a different approach than most pie crust recipes.
This post is sponsored by the Grain Foods Foundation. All opinions are my own.
WHOLE GRAIN CARAMEL APPLE HAND PIES
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup whole spelt flour
2 tablespoons sucanat
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 cup refined coconut oil, melted
12-14 tablespoons water, ice cold
1 tablespoon sucanat
2 tablespoons tapioca starch
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, optional
2 medium apples suitable for baking, peeled and chopped into small pieces
1 teaspoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup easy caramel sauce
2 teaspoons almond milk
1 teaspoon vanilla cane sugar
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, and salt. Slowly drizzle in the coconut oil, one tablespoon at a time, using your fingers to gently toss/press the coconut oil into the flour. Once you’ve added all the oil, continue mixing with your fingers (20-30 seconds), rubbing the mixture between your fingers until the mixture resembles sandy meal with a few larger clumps. Transfer bowl to the freezer for 15 minutes then remove and use your fingers to squeeze the crumbs and break down the hard clumps of coconut oil. Drizzle in the water, four tablespoons at a time, and mix with your fingers (the same way you were mixing in the oil). Repeat until you've added 12 tablespoons of water, then add the remaining two tablespoons as needed (I typically use somewhere between 13 and 14). Once all the water has been added, gently knead the dough (10-15 seconds) (do not overwork it) then divide and flatten into two disks. It may feel a bit dry, but don't worry about that as it will soften as it rests. Wrap dough in plastic and let sit at room temperature for 30-45 minutes. If you plan on making the pies later, it will keep in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours, but will need to reach room temperature before rolling.
While the dough is resting, prepare the filling by combining the sugar, starch, and cinnamon in a small bowl; set aside. In a medium mixing bowl, toss the apples and lemon juice, then add the tapioca mixture and toss until apples are evenly coated. Do the same with the caramel sauce. Transfer caramel apples to the refrigerator and let chill for at least 30 minutes. If you're using caramel that is super runny, you may need to chill the mixture in the freezer, instead - otherwise assembling the pies will be a total mess.
When you're ready to assemble the pies, preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line a flat surface with parchment paper and generously sprinkle with flour. Unwrap one of the discs of dough and roll it out until it's about 1/8″ thick. Using a round 3″ cookie cutter, cut the dough and transfer the rounds to a baking sheet lined with a silicon mat or parchment paper. Collect scraps and roll out the dough again, this time into a slab about 1/4" thick. You should have a total of 14-16 rounds (but don't worry if you have less). Remove the caramel apple mixture from the refrigerator and place a spoonful of it in the middle of each 1/8" thick round. Take the 1/4" thick rounds and gently stretch each one with your hands to make it a bit larger (this will ensure the round completely covers the filling) and use it to sandwich the filling. Gently press along the edges to seal in the caramel sauce then use a fork to completely press the edges of each round. Trim the scraggly edges with a pair of scissors, if desired. Using a toothpick, prick holes in the top of each pie (if you don’t do this, they might explode). Brush with almond milk then sprinkle with vanilla sugar. Bake at 350˚F for 20-22 minutes. While the first batch of pies are baking, repeat the process with the second slab of dough. When pies have finished baking, transfer to cooling rack and store, loosely covered at room temperature, for up to five days. Reheat as needed.
Yield: 14-16 3″ pies