Spiced Pear Hand Pies
A trustworthy pie dough transforms this unique spiced pear filling into incredible pockets of crisp tender flavor. This dough contains vegetable shortening to give the pastry a crumbly texture, and it uses butter to lend both flavor and richness. The sugar incorporated into the pie dough helps the pastry brown beautifully in the oven. As for the filling, cubed pear pieces are slowly cooked in a concoction of brown sugar, honey, water, and lemon juice. The pears release their juices as the mixture cooks, making a delicious syrup that coats the fruit. A traditional blend of cardamom, cinnamon, and ginger enhances the flavor of the pears, and an additional spice called star anise is the secret ingredient to the spicy sweetness of the pears. In harmony with the other spices, the star anise doesn't overwhelm the pears with too strong of an anise flavor but instead compliments all of the other complex autumnal flavors cooking into the fruit. Small circles of the dough are stuffed with a tablespoon of the cooked pear filling before they are sealed and coated in egg wash and raw sugar before baking. The final product is a tender and crisp pastry with crunchy bits of raw sugar clinging to a crust that easily gives way to a pouch of delicate pear. Make these for a gathering of friends or just to keep on the counter for your family; whatever the occasion, these hand pies will not disappoint.