My first mistake was forgetting to brush the tops of these little hand pies with an egg wash. So I ended up with pale (like winter legs-pale) non-golden pie rounds.
My second mistake was baking these during a gray and snowy afternoon, without having any immediate plans to have friends over who will polish off these pies within minutes. So I ended up alone in my apartment, warm and cozy from the wintry mix outside, surrounded with the buttery, chocolatey smells of fresh baked pies. And almost a full bottle of bourbon.
But am I really alone if I’m surrounded by chocolate pecan pies and bourbon? Don’t answer that.
I think it was Lululemon who said, “in life, there are no mistakes.” What’s more applicable here is that there are no regrets.
I’m not exactly a bourbon connoisseur – I mostly drink it if it’s part of a (sweet) cocktail, or if it’s in a dessert. More often than not, the desserts I’ve had with bourbon also come with chocolate. It’s a natural pairing of warm flavors, dark and bittersweet and intense. Last year when I went to Dallas, I had the most delicious dessert with bourbon: Derby Pie. It was so good I hand-carried it on the plane to bring back to Boston.
Derby pie is basically pecan pie on steroids. It has pecans, chocolate, and Kentucky bourbon. I wanted to re-create it but in a mini baby form. A little pecan pie that’s like a baby on steroids. Since I love pie crust so much (I take after my dad), I decided to make hand pies so I’ll get double the crust, instead of just the crust on the bottom.
As always, my finished baked goods came out looking a little rustic. I grabbed the ugliest/most mangled looking one with chocolate pecan pie filling oozing out of the sides and took a giant bite. I promptly burned my tongue. And I realized that hey, you guys don’t mind rustic hand pies if they’re delicious anyway! And these were preettyyyy good.
I was a little heavy handed with the bourbon but there’s nothing wrong with that. You can’t really taste the excess bourbon in the hand pies, but it is very prominent when you eat the pie filling by itself. I should know because I ended up baking the excess filling in a little ramekin and then basically eating pie filling in a bowl.
If you want to learn from my mistakes, brush an egg wash on top of the pies before baking. You can be more patient when rolling out the pie crust and ensure that everything is flat and even, and you’ll end up with 12 (or even more) hand pies, not 10. You can use a tablespoon or less of bourbon if you like. You can also make less filling so you don’t end up with too much (decrease chocolate and chopped pecans by two tablespoons). And make sure you plan ahead so you can share these immediately with friends and family!
Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Hand Pies
2 pre-made pie crusts, thawed according to package directions (I used Trader Joe's frozen pie crusts)
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
4 oz dark chocolate chunks
1 large egg
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup bourbon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped toasted pecans
- Preheat oven to 425 F.
- Make the filling. In a small microwave-safe bowl, combine the butter and chocolate chunks. Heat on full power for 1 minute, then remove and stir. Everything would have started to melt but you’ll still have some lumps. Stir quickly until you get a smooth texture.
- In a separate microwave-safe bowl, beat the egg until frothy. Stir in brown sugar, maple syrup, vanilla extract, bourbon, and salt. Add in melted chocolate and butter mixture and stir until well blended. Fold in chopped pecans. Heat on full power for 2 minutes, then let cool.
- Assemble hand pies. Unwrap pie crust, sprinkle some flour onto your work surface and roll the dough to about 1/4-inch thick. Using a scone or a 3-inch round cookie cutter, cut the dough into rounds. You might have to gather the scraps and re-form and re-roll to get enough rounds (I ended up with 20 total).
- By now your filling would have cooled a little bit and has thickened. Spoon about a tablespoon of the pie filling in the center of each pie crust round. Place a second pie crust round on top, and use a fork to crimp and seal the edges. Cut incisions on top of each pie.
- Place hand pies on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake for 17 minutes or until the tops and edges are golden brown. Cool for at least 10 minutes.
But really, there are no mistakes, no regrets, just delicious little chocolate bourbon pecan hand pies.