When I was a little kid my mom steered me away from sweets. If I picked up a tootsie roll she’d scrunge her face into a frown and say: Eww. You’re gonna eat that?
That’s the story I’m told. She’s a sweets lover (whipped cream being especially alluring). My sister, too, can happily munch cookies and candy every day. Me? Bakery displays used to appeal to me as much as the nuts & bolts bins at the hardware store. Eyes glaze over, not even seeing anything.
But that has, unfortunately, changed. I think it started in culinary school. I went to culinary school while I was still living in NYC. I was on the culinary, not pastry, track. But they interrupted our frying, braising, roasting and fabricating meat, for a quick 6-week pastry module. We whipped through puff pastry, cakes, caramel, and candies–each day bringing on a new technique.
It felt like a mini-vacation. No grease, no slimy hands, no potential salmonella, no leg joints, silverskin, or fish scales. Just butter and flour. Eggs. Everything felt lighter and happier. I feel in love with our puff pastry croissants, pain au chocolate and raisin rolls. I suddenly wanted to trail at my favorite NY cafes to learn how they made those pastries that would now pop into my eyes (and mouth) when I came in for a cappuccino or cafe au lait.
Since then I like to bake. It first felt a little foreign in my hands, but I’ve warmed up quickly. These little baked mini-pies have been haunting me since I first made them. In this recipe the filling is blueberries, strawberries, aleppo pepper & cinnamon. But I’m now dreaming of adding mascarpone. I’ll let you know how that comes out!
Mini-Pies w Fruit Filling
To make the crust, pulse in a food processor: 1 1/2 cups flour, 1 teaspoon sugar, pinch salt. Add 1 stick cold unsalted butter (that has been cut into cubes). Pulse until broken into small pieces. Add 1/4 cup of very cold white wine. Pulse until dough comes together in a ball. Remove and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
Meanwhile make the filling. Combine 1 cup blueberries, 1 cup strawberries (cut into small pieces the size of blueberries), 1/4 cup of sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon aleppo pepper.
Roll dough out and cut into 3-inch squares (or choose your shape & size). Place about a teaspoon of the mixture in the middle. Fold into a triangle and press sides together with fork tines to seal. Place on a parchment-lined sheet pan. Repeat with the rest. (You can knead lightly and roll out the scraps to make a few more.)
Makes about a dozen. Lightly beat an egg with a little water. Brush egg on top. Make a small slit in each and sprinkle a little sugar on top.
Bake at 400 degrees F. for about 20 minutes until golden. YUM.