Star Spangled Berry Hand Pies {Farmer’s Market Friday}

Star Spangled Berry Hand Pies are a super simple, flaky cream cheese pie crust filled with fresh strawberry and blueberry compotes.  These hand pies make one terrific, patriotic treat, perfect for summer barbecues and picnics!

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Welcome to this extra special 4th of July edition of Farmer’s Market Friday!  I absolutely had to do something patriotic today, so you’re getting a two-for-one today with two kinds of fresh berries:  Blueberries & Strawberries. 🙂

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It’s the Fourth of July, so I had to do a makeshift flag out of berries.  And this is definitely makeshift.  I think my kids could’ve done a better job, but hey, I was in a hurry. 😉  I love the 4th of July with everything red, white, and blue, flags hung proudly out on display, and celebrating what a great country we’re so fortunate to be a part of.  I wish all the men in women serving our country could be with their families celebrating, too, because nobody deserves it more than they do.  God bless America! 🙂

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I had these hand pies on my brain to make a very long time ago, but they just didn’t happen until a few days ago.  The funny thing is, I told you I made a boatload of strawberry and blueberry compotes for my Angel Food Cupcakes, and I did so purposely.  My master plan was to use the leftover compotes for these star spangled berry hand pies, and that’s exactly what I did.  I tucked the compotes in the back of the top shelf in the fridge until I was ready for them, and they worked out perfectly here. 🙂

It’s almost ridiculous how much cornstarch I used in my compote, but I didn’t want to run the risk of the fruit juices running out everywhere.  You won’t have any fruity explosions with this recipe, and it tastes great, too. 🙂

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I used yet another pie crust recipe for these hand pies.  You may remember the super dough recipe that I used for my Butternut Squash, Leek, & Gruyere Galette?  It would also be a phenomenal crust here as it’s so super flakey, too, but I really wanted to try out a cream cheese pie crust recipe that I got from cooking school.  It’s just as simple as the super dough recipe because it’s all done in a food processor as well.  This cream cheese pie crust is great for beginners, because there’s so much fat from the cream cheese and butter that it’s hard to toughen this dough out.  That’s a good thing, because we want a nice, flakey crust…not a tough one.

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For this recipe, you just pulse the butter with the flour mixture until it looks like coarse meal in about pea-sized crumbles as shown in the first photo.  Add the cream cheese in big chunks, and pulse about 10 times.  Pour out into a bowl or onto the counter and knead it together a bit until the dough comes together.  Form it into a flattened disk, cover with plastic wrap, and chill for 30 minutes.

Now, I doubled this recipe because I wasn’t sure how many hand pies I would make with a single recipe.  All of it barely fit in my food processor, but it did work.  You could do it in batches, or just halve the recipe, which would give you less hand pies, or enough dough for (1) 9″ pie crust.

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When rolling the dough, generously flour your work surface and try to roll out it out in a circular shape about 1/8″ thick, in order to get the maximum number of hand pies possible.  I used a 3″ circular biscuit cutter, and made 12 hand pies with plenty of dough left over that I decided to freeze because I didn’t need more than that.  I’d venture a guess and say a double batch would yield 20-24 3″ hand pies depending on the thickness of your dough and whether you’re willing to be diligent and re-roll the scraps.

Use different shaped star cutters and cut out a few in half of the circles of dough only.  Brush egg wash around the outer rim of the pie crust bottoms, and fill them with 1 – 1/2 tablespoons of compote.  Roll the top crust out just a bit more to fit over the filling if necessary, and place over the filling, lining up the edges, and pressing down gently around the edges.  Place in the fridge to chill for 30 more minutes.

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When you’re ready to bake the pies, brush the tops generously with egg wash, place the star cutouts on top, and brush those with egg wash, too.  Bake for about 25-30 minutes until the tops are nice and golden brown, and the bottom crust is browned also.

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Cool the pies and take on a picnic or eat outdoors at a BBQ,  or eat warm with vanilla ice cream  (my favorite). 🙂  These hand pies are guaranteed to be a hit for your 4th of July festivities or any time you want to enjoy a handheld pie.  They’re fun, festive, flakey, and fruity.  And they’re star spangled.  Let’s hear it for the red, white, and blue. 🙂

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Star Spangled Berry Hand Pies
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Star Spangled Berry Hand Pies are a super simple, flakey cream cheese pie crust filled with fresh strawberry and blueberry compotes. These hand pies make one terrific, patriotic treat, perfect for summer barbecues and picnics!
Serves: About 20-24 3" hand pies
Ingredients
For the pie dough (enough for (2) 9" pie crusts):
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • 8 ounces (2 sticks), cold unsalted butter, cut into ¼" cubes
  • 16 ounces (2 blocks) cold ⅓ less fat neufchâtel cream cheese, cut into 12 large chunks
  • 1 large egg yolk, for egg wash
  • 2 tablespoons milk, for egg wash
For the blueberry compote:
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
For the strawberry compote:
  • 2 cups strawberries, stemmed and coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
Instructions
Prepare the compotes:
  1. Place the blueberries and strawberries in separate small saucepans. Add the lemon juice, sugar, and cornstarch to each pot, and cook over medium low heat until the fruit has softened and the juices have thickened, about 5 minutes. Crush about half of the fruit with the back of a wooden spoon during the cooking process to release more of its juices. The strawberries contain more juices, so increase the heat if necessary and cook just until thickened. Place the compotes in separate bowls to cool. These can be made ahead of time and kept covered in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Prepare the pie dough:
  1. Place the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse about 10 times to combine. Add the cold butter cubes and pulse 8-10 times, or until the mixture resembles a coarse meal in about pea sized crumbles. Add the cold pieces of cream cheese and pulse about 30 times, or until large, shaggy clumps of dough form. Your food processor will be very full, and there may be some large clumps of cream cheese remaining, which you can deal with during the kneading process.
  2. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead gently until the dough comes together. Knead as minimally as possible to prevent the dough from becoming tough. Divide the dough in half and flatten into (2) discs about ¾" thick, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for 30 minutes.
Assemble the hand pies:
  1. Line (2) rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Place the egg yolk in a small bowl, and whisk lightly with the 2 tablespoons of milk until combined. Set aside. Remove one of the dough discs from the refrigerator, and flour a work surface. Roll the dough until it's about ⅛" thick, and cut out 3" circles using a biscuit cutter as close to the edges as possible and as close to one another to get the maximum amount of crusts as possible out of the first roll. Place half of the circles on the prepared baking sheet(s) about 1" apart. Brush the outer ¼" lightly with egg wash, and place 1½ tablespoons of the compote in the middle of the dough. Gently roll out the dough for the top crust just a bit so it will fit over the top of the filling, and use star shaped cutter to cut decorative patterns, reserving the star shaped cutouts. Place the top crusts over the filling and press gently around the edges, then press down around the edges with the tip of a fork to create a decorative edge. Repeat with the remaining scraps of dough and the other disk, and chill for 30 minutes prior to baking. Do not egg wash the top until just before baking.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and position the oven racks to the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Remove from the refrigerator, and brush the top crust generously with egg wash. Top with the star shaped cut outs, and brush egg wash over those as well. Bake in the oven for 25-35 minutes, or until the top and bottom crusts are nice and golden brown. Cool on a wire rack, or serve warm with ice cream. Enjoy!
Notes
You can halve the pie dough recipe to make less pies, or prepare the recipe as-is and freeze half. It's always nice to have homemade pie dough in the freezer!

I used ⅓ less fat neufchâtel cream cheese here because that's what I always have on hand. You can certainly use full fat cream cheese as well.

Leftover compote should be stored in the fridge in an airtight container and may be enjoyed with yogurt or oatmeal.

Compote recipes by Flavor the Moments.

Pie crust recipe adapted from Tante Marie Cooking School, San Francisco, CA, and "The Art & Soul of Baking", by Cindy Mushet.