I woke up Monday morning with the vague realization that the seasons had changed overnight. Summer was slowing reclining to the past and Fall was beginning to peek it's head through the boughs of temporary retirement. I know that it is only August and that Fall remains a month away, but there was something about that morning that hinted to me that Summer is coming to an end. It was a cold rainy morning, dark, grey and full of moodiness.
It took all my willpower to not put on a big sweater and hibernate with a book all day, but as strongly as the new season is calling me, and as badly as I want to answer, I don't want to pass up these last precious moments of summertime.
So I put on a summer dress, and drove to the market to admire the produce, knowing well that Summer produce can always put me in a warm-weather mood. The bins were nearly overflowing with fresh fruits as sweet as candy, but I passed them all by in order to grab several handfuls of the ripe, black figs that were just being unloaded.
As a child I never ate figs. I am not even sure if I knew they were a fruit. I think I thought they were just the filling of a cookie that I absolutely abhorred. Lets not talk about it...
But, when I was about 14 years old my parents went out to dinner, a very nice dinner, where they enjoyed figs in their salad. Suddenly my mother was a fig-lover, and soon after, I adopted her enthusiasm.
Figs are faintly earthy. But all their earthiness is balanced by a deep, brown-sugary sweetness that makes them entirely unique.
When I bite into a fig I am always excited by the burst of pink that is revealed.
As a carried my figs around the market I searched with eager eyes for something different. I knew I wanted another fruit, a slightly sweeter one, to pair with my figs. Nectarines were the obvious answer since, up until now, I have unintentionally ignored them all Summer.
The pairing was a celebrated success. Well at least I was celebrating as I shoved these tiny pies into my mouth for breakfast the next morning.
I had made hand pies several weeks ago with strawberries and cherries and they were SO incredibly good that I knew I would be making them again soon. However, I wanted to try something a bit deeper and richer.
This filling is sweet, but not cloyingly so. The crust is buttery, and the hazelnuts and pistachios add an irresistible crunch that is going to have me putting nuts on all my hand pies from now on.
Tiny pies, encapsulating the flavors of Summer in between two rounds of buttery goodness.
Breathe it in. This Summer has been good to me and I want to appreciate every last moment. I hope you will do the same.
Fig & Nectarine Hand Pies
for the pie crust
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 cup cold, unsalted butter (cut into 1/2-inch cubes)
- 1 cup cold water
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup ice
Sift to combine flour, salt, and sugar in a large bowl.
Transfer the sifted flour mixture to the work bowl of your food processor. Add cubed butter and pulse several times until the butter is worked in and in pea-sized pieces. The mixture should be the texture of rough cornmeal.
Combine water, vinegar, and ice in a small bowl. Add the cold water mixture to the rough dough several tablespoons at a time, pulsing 1-2 times after each addition. Add just enough liquid to bring the dough roughly together. Divide the dough in half and form two discs. Wrap each disc in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
for the filling
- 2 ripe nectarines, cut into cubes
- 8 figs, sliced and quartered
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
In a medium bowl whisk to combine sugar and cornstarch. Add fruit and toss until the fruit is thoroughly coated in the cornstarch and sugar.
- egg wash (1 egg whisked with 1 teaspoon water)
- granulated sugar
- chopped hazelnuts and pistachios
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Roll the first disc of pie crust out on a floured surface to about 1/8 inch in thickness. Use a biscuit cutter to cut rounds out of the dough and lay them on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Brush the edges of each round with egg wash. Roll the second disc of crust out as before to form the tops of the pies.
Place about 2 tablespoons of filling in the center of each round and top with a second round of pie crust, pressing lightly around the edges to seal each pie. Use scissors or a sharp knife to snip a small hole in the top of each pie. Brush the tops with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar and chopped nuts.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the pies are deep golden brown. Allow to cool for about 15 minutes before serving. Enjoy!