Pumpkin Hand Pies

Pumpkin hand pies are an easy alternative to the more traditional pies for Thanksgiving.  Growing up, mom would begin her pie baking as soon as Halloween came to an end and she would spoil us with mini pumpkin hand pies that were baked by the dozen.  Tucked into a Pyrex bowl covered with a towel, my brothers and I would steal them when she wasn't looking. Actually, I think she knew what we were up to, but since these were handmade with all-natural ingredients, mom didn't care how many we gobbled up.

It's been years since I've enjoyed one made by mom, so I took it upon myself to create a version that was true to her original.  I must admit that they weren't quite what I remember, but nonetheless they were impeccably light, flaky, spicy and truly delicious.  Imagine a pumpkin filling that is slightly sweet and lightly spiced, covered in a flaky crust that is mouthwateringly good.

My mini Pumpkin Hand Pies made their debut at the Williams-Sonoma demo this past week, much to the gratification of everyone who tried a sample. About six dozen samples were divvied up that day.  Not one scrap was left! I have to say that the funniest moment was when a 1-1/2 year old baby jumped up and down with joy as she was eating a sample given to her by her mother (you'll see a photo of her!).  What better seal of approval do you need?

Let's bake some Pumpkin Hand Pies!

Pumpkin Hand Pie Ingredients
  • 2 recipes The Best Pie Crust
  • 15 oz. [425 g.] canned pumpkin puree (not pie mix) 
  • 1/3 cup [80g.] packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon [2.5 ml.] ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon [1.25 ml.] ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon [pinch] ground cloves (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon [1.25 ml.] pure vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten (for egg wash)

Yield: enough filling for approximately 20 hand pies.

  1. Remove chilled dough from the refrigerator 15 minutes prior to rolling out. 
  2. With a rolling pin, on a lightly floured surface, gently roll out 1 disk of my pie crust 3 times in one direction.  Give the disk a 1/4 turn and roll out 3 times.  Repeat with quarter turns and with rolling out 3 times in one direction until the dough is 1/8" in thickness.  
  3. Using a 4-1/2” round cutter, cut out 4 rounds and set them aside on a parchment-lined or silpat-lined baking sheet.  Set scraps aside and repeat the rolling out and cutting out with remaining dough disks.  
  4. NOTE: each disk of dough will yield 4 rounds.  Gather scraps from 2 disks and reroll to cut out 4 additional rounds.  You should only reroll the scraps once.  This may cause the latter 4 hand pies to puff up like puff pastry, but no one will be complaining. 
  5. Fill each round with 1 tablespoon of pumpkin filling, centering the puree.   
  6. Lightly brush half of each circle with water and draw the other half of the dough to seal, creating half-moons.  Gently press the dough to seal.  You can either, crimp or flute the edges as desired.  
  7. Chill all mini pies for at least 30 minutes.  Filled pies can be frozen, well-wrapped, for up to one month.
  8. Preheat oven to 375° F (191°C).  Place oven racks on the lower third of oven.  
  9. Lightly brush each pie with the beaten egg.  Score each pie in one or two places to create vents.  Bake pies, 2” apart from each other on baking sheets, for approximately 20-30 minutes.  Pies should be golden when done.
  10. Let cool on racks.  Devour!  

Look at how well that pastry bakes.  You can see the layers of flakiness!

Kid tested & mother approved!

Pumpkin Hand Pies are among the easiest things to bake and without a doubt, they are perhaps the tastiest of desserts for Thanksgiving.  Create something new this season and put a smile on everyone's face with mini pies that are perfect to have with a cup of tea, some mulled cider or with a bit of coffee. Any which way you serve these little delicacies, as long as you make plenty no one will be fighting over who gets one.