a parisian in new york – brandied apricot-almond hand pie
On a gorgeous sunny morning in Paris two weeks ago, we dropped off our luggage at the hotel and promptly head to Du Pain et Des Idées for our first Parisian breakfast. It was not an easy task to make a choice among the bounty of fresh pastries and breads.
At last, we select four items to set the tone for our Paris vacation—a crusty baguette, an almond croissant, an apple pastry, and a seasonal apricot tart. It wasn’t even a French version of breakfast, but for food travelers, it was the right way to start the first day.
The first bite of the trip was the apricot tart and the most memorable of the group. The flavor was vibrant and packed with the essence of apricots.
Of course, I had to bake something with apricots upon our return . . . but somehow the American apricot wasn’t the same as the French abricot. After a few attempts using only fresh fruit, I relinquished that idea and turned to an additional ingredient for boosting the flavor — dried apricots. They not only help to recapture the flavor I experienced in Paris but I upped the ratio of apricots to pastry in this American version of Tarte aux Abricots
Brandied Apricot-Almond Hand Pie
Brandied Apricot Filling
- 2 cups (about 10-1/2 ounces) dried apricots, chopped
- 2/3 cup (4-5/8 ounces) granulated sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup orange juice
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 16 ounces fresh apricots (about 6), pitted and quartered
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon instant tapioca
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
- 1 tablespoons brandy
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
Pie Pastry and Assembly
- 2-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (12-1/2 ounces), plus additional flour for work surface
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 16 tablespoons unsalted butter (2 sticks), cold, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and frozen for 10 minutes
- 3 tablespoons sour cream
- 1/3 cup ice water, or more if needed
- Ice water for brushing
- 1/4 cup of granulated sugar
Brandied Apricot Filling
1. In a medium saucepan, combine the dried apricots, sugar, water, orange juice, and salt. Simmer over medium-low heat, stir occasionally, until the apricots are very soft and can be mashed with a wooden spoon, 25-30 minutes. Add more water if most of the liquid has evaporated. (The mixture should get thick and syrupy). Add the fresh apricots, lemon juice, tapioca and cook, until soften, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.
2. Remove from heat and gently stir in almonds, brandy, and extracts into the apricot mixture until fully combined. Set aside and cool to room temperature. (The filling can be made, covered, and refrigerated up to 2 days ahead.)
Pie Pastry and Assembly
1. Process flour, salt, and sugar together in food processor until combined, about 3 seconds. Add butter and pulse until butter is size of large peas, about ten 1-second pulses.
2. Using fork, mix sour cream and 1/3 cup ice water in small bowl until combined. Add half of sour cream mixture to flour mixture; pulse for three 1-second pulses. Repeat with remaining sour cream mixture. Pinch dough with fingers; if dough is floury, dry, and does not hold together, add 1 to 2 tablespoons ice water and process until dough forms large clumps and no dry flour remains, three to five 1-second pulses.
3. Turn dough out onto work surface. Divide dough into 2 balls and flatten each into 4-inch disk; wrap each disk in plastic and refrigerate until firm but not hard, about one hour, before rolling.
4. Roll one disc on lightly floured surface into an 1/8-inch thick rectangle (at least 6-inch wide). Using a 5-inch round cutter, cut out as many circles as possible. Arrange them, 2-inch apart on a parchment lined baking sheet and refrigerate. Repeat with 2nd disc of dough. (You can re roll dough to make additional discs.)
5. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400℉. Have a small bowl of ice water and pastry brush at hand. Remove prepared pie rounds from refrigerator, Scoop a generous 2 tablespoons of apricot mixture in the center, brush edges with ice water and place another pie round on top and press edges to seal. Using a fork, press lightly around the edges to create a decorative border, careful not to press all the way through. Repeat with remaining pie rounds. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.
6. Using a pairing knife, cut a few slit on top of each pie and brush throughly with ice water. Sprinkle sugar on top and bake until hand pies are lightly colored, about 20-30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes. Transfer hand pies to rack and let cool on rack for 20-30 minutes. Serve or store at room temperature in airtight container for 2 days.