February 11, 2017

Heart-Shaped Strawberry Hand Pies.

Hello, friends!! I feel like it's been forever since I've done a lengthy and detailed blog post dedicated to all things buttery, sweet, and delicious. With Valentines Day just around the corner (this upcoming Tuesday!) I thought it'd be best to do some heart-themed baking BEFORE the big day rather than after. I remember last year I did my big foodie-blogger debut of beautiful chocolate-covered strawberries almost a week AFTER Valentines Day had already passed. Oops. And despite it being about the time when everyone's already soooo over the heart's and XO's, that blog post received fabulous feedback among friends and family and encouraged me to keep pursuing my love for baking. So here I am, one year later with strawberry heart-shaped hand pies busting my belt under my belt.
Truthfully I wanted to get started on Valentines themed baking in mid January, but with that month being so...difficult, the heart-shaped-everythings had to wait. To explain, I was sick and feeling under the weather for about 3 weeks, and then Jarryd's grandmother passed away at the end of January. It was a month of sickness, hospital visits, tears, and grief. So, baking didn't even stand a chance. Although I did bake two different large batches of cookies for the funeral so that was good for my baking-spirits. In conclusion it was a very hard month, but also good at the same time. All I can say is that you don't grow through the easy times, it's the rough gut-wrenching seasons that make you stronger. 💕

Baking projects, projects that consist of:
baking something new,
taking photos and styling the ingredients during each step of the baking process,
tasting the end result (and feeding it to the hubs as well),
photographing and styling the end result,
uploading the photos,
choosing my favourite photos,
editing the photos,
and writing/putting together a blog post...are projects that I absolutely cannot do after a whole day spent at work. One reason is because I'm just too tired. I put a great deal of energy into my full-time job that by the time I get home all I want is some down-time (which right now looks like cozying up on the couch with coffee, chips, Jarryd, and old reruns of Home Improvement--it's wonderful!!).
Big baking projects like these ones need to be time-slotted into the morning and early afternoon because of the most crucial reason: natural lighting. Can I get an amen?! 🙌 I'm serious, my baking wouldn't look half as good if I took my photos in my apartments' gross lightbulb-yellowy-evening lighting. That gorgeous, natural, bright, white lighting that pours in through windows in the early moments of the day is my prime-time for food styling and photography. If you still aren't getting this, I'll take a baking photo in my dark window-less kitchen during the hours of evening, and we'll compare it to the food photos I take next to my living room windows in the morning. Deal?

I prepped a few things yesterday (Friday) evening after work; I chopped up the strawberries, made my two pie doughs, shaped them into discs and rested them in the fridge over night. It's always great waking up in the morning to ready-made pie doughs, wouldn't you agree? I should probably make that a weekend tradition. 😋

Relating to what I was saying before about how I need the early morning/afternoon light to do baking projects, this morning I was up and at 'em at 6 AM. Yes, I know! 6 AM on a Saturday! Trust me, I'm a girl who loves sleeping in, but there are certain things I'm OK with losin' a little sleep over: early morning flights, road trips, and baking projects. Plus, Jarryd went into work today for some OT so that meant I had free reign over the apartment and could blast my 80's hits and bake/style/photograph with zero distractions. {I'm on a total 80's music kick right now--I LOVE IT! Why didn't anyone tell me how fantastic that decade was musically?!}

Now, onto the pie! I must say, this Heart-Shaped Strawberry Hand Pie recipe did NOT disappoint. They turned out AMAZING!! Even Jarryd said they're one of my best desserts yet! He's the best self-esteem booster. 😏
Putting together the Strawberry filling is super simple. All you do is throw into a saucepan some chopped strawberries, a couple teaspoons of lemon juice (REAL freshly squeezed lemon juice), two tablespoons of maple syrup, and some corn starch. Then you stir and let it cook until it gets nice and thick. So so easy!
This is what the finished filling should look like, the strawberries should be soft and the glaze should be thick enough to hold itself together somewhat. And be sure to taste it before putting it into the refrigerator to cool; I found mine to be a little tart so I added a little swig more of maple syrup.
As for the pie dough. The recipe states you can use either store-bought pre-made pie dough or homemade. Unless I'm having some sort of mental breakdown and my judgement has gone out the window, I will ALWAYS make my own pie dough. I am not drawn to a biting into pie crust that's full of random preservatives and worst of all: shortening. I'm all about using an all butter pie dough, because not only is the texture incredibly flaky but the butter adds an amazing flavour.
The no-fail all-butter pie dough recipe that I use can be found HERE. (The recipe has been made over 3k times and has a 4.5 star rating--you will not be let down!) And that pie dough recipe needs to be doubled for this hand pie recipe.
Also, a method that I swear by is grinding the flour and ice-cold butter in a mini-food-processor (we received one as a wedding gift!). It's SO much easier getting the butter to form into coarse crumbs that way than by hand with a pastry blender. Utilizing a food processor is actually effortless and best of all, no arm fatigue! Moving on.
The next step is to cut out 24 hearts from the rolled out pie dough using a heart-shaped cookie cutter. Believe it or not I didn't even own a heart-shaped cookie cutter until yesterday--when I had to go out and buy one! I couldn't even believe it myself. {Some baker I am...}
After the strawberry filling has cooled completely, scoop by tablespoon onto half (12) of the hearts. Then brush an egg + milk wash around the edges of the hearts.
Using a rolling pin, make the remaining 12 hearts slightly larger, then drape them over the filling-hearts. Crimp the edges with a fork, and cut slits in the top for ventilation. Ventilation is important for pie as it allows steam to release while baking.
Lightly brush egg + milk wash over the hearts (it causes a Maillard Reaction to take place which gives the crust that gorgeous golden brown colour). Mmm!
And then sprinkle with coarse sugar or raw sugar. And you know what is awesome about these hand pies? They bake for less than 15 minutes in a 400 F degree oven! That's SO fast! I was delighted to see that quick baking time on the recipe because I was absolutely famished after my morning in the kitchen.

And now, for the fun part! Styling and photographing the finished product!!
Let's talk about these blue and white plates, shall we? Before picking up ingredients I decided to drop in at Good Will to find some new plates. The moment my eyes saw these beauties I picked them up and didn't let go. I love love love them!
All 12 of these pies over flowed from the ventilation slits in the middle. Did I bake them too long? Was my filling not thick enough? Did I make the slits too big? I don't mind the strawberry filling spewing over like a volcano because it adds some nice colour, but it's when I concentrate on it too much that's when it starts bothering me. Skip to the next photo if you don't feel like being grossed out at the moment.... {it sort of reminds me of a bullet hole wound}. OK now please erase that from your mind you can enjoy the rest of the photos blissfully!
Will you hold my hand....pie? 😂  I've been dying to type that caption down. I tested it on Jarryd first and let's just say he wasn't amused. Hopefully you guys will appreciate that more than he did.
Along with those plates, at Good Will I also found this gold and white cake stand! I was SO pumped to have such a successful Good Will find day. Also, is it because we're nearing Valentines Day that every single strawberry in the 3 containers that I bought are PERFECT? I swear a couple of weeks ago I had to toss like half the container because they were moldy and mushy. Not only do all of these LOOK impeccable, their flavour is on point/on fleek, whichever word you prefer to say. 😜
The beauty of these strawberry hand pies is that they can be enjoyed with a vast variety of toppings or even no toppings at all because let's face it, they're actually so delicious on their own! You could eat them with a nice scoop of vanilla bean ice cream {something I forgot to buy at the grocery store}, or a nice skyscraper non-embarrassing...tiny...swirl of whipped cream. {LOL tiny--yeah right!}
Since I was without ice cream or whipped cream today, I decided to brainstorm some toppings of my own...
Exhibit A: Lemon Icing Glaze sprinkled with a dash of lemon zest. Out of the two topping flavours I experimented with today, this one TAKES THE CAKE THE PIE. The sweet and tart lemony flavour drizzled on top of the sweet strawberry filling and flaky buttery pie crust is just magnificent. The next time I make these hand pies, I'm drizzling ALL of them with this glaze. I can't even provide you with an exact recipe because I did it all on a whim using my culinary knowledge but I just mixed together some melted salted butter, real freshly squeezed lemon juice, and confectioners sugar. Just keep working with those 3 ingredients until you get that perfect tart to sweet ratio that you're looking for.
Exhibit B: Nutella Drizzle and a sprinkle of chopped nuts. Rumour has it that for those of you who own a microwave you could just nuke the Nutella for a few seconds and it would soften enough to be drizzled. But Jarryd and I don't own a microwave, so in a small saucepan on the stove I just whisked together Nutella and milk until I got a smooth, and thin enough consistency. Heating it and adding milk caused the colour of the Nutella to darken quite a bit, I thought it would have lightened, but I do like how it turned out in the photo!
Now because I ALWAYS forget to show y'all what the inside of whatever I'm baking looks like, I refused to forget this time. Well, it also helped that I needed to taste test the flavours. So far I've eaten three of these hand pies, one plain, one with a lemon glaze, and one with a Nutella drizzle. The plain and Nutella were both very good, but as I mentioned before, the lemon glaze is AMAZING. So, if you're gonna bake these, I highly recommend whipping up some of that sunshiny-lemony goodness to go with it! Your mouth will love you.

So?! Have I convinced you to make these scrumptious heart-shaped beauties just in time for Valentines Day? If yes, click HERE for the Recipe! I mean, you've seen it for yourself, they're so simple to bake and only take under 15 minutes of oven time! If I wouldn't have styled and taken photos every step of the way, these pies would have taken me no time at all! 
And let's be honest, these are all-year round type of pies. They're perfect for gifting to friends and family (which is what I'm doing so I don't end up eating the equivalent of an entire pie!). Imagine them on the dessert table at an engagement shower, baby shower, or wedding! They don't even have to be heart-shaped either, they can be circles, triangles, or circles folded over. The pie-shape options are endless.
So, if you do end up baking them, let me know! I'd love to hear about it {and also tell me if yours experience a volcanic eruption as well}.

Have a wonderful Valentines Day, my loves!

"We love because He first loved us."
-1 John 4:19


  1. 1. These look amazing
    2. I liked your joke
    3. I'm sorry about your January
    4. I expect you to make these for me next time I see you.

    Love love

  2. These look amazing! i see what you mean about needing the natural morning light. Your photos are Pintrest worthy.