On the spur of the moment, I pie-d my way through yesterday. I have a knack for fishing out completely random things from the pantry and thrusting them all together in some wacky ingredient spin-off (or should I say dance-off in the oven), but this one isn’t all too unorthodox, and well heck it yielded something far more pleasurable than what I envisioned during the process.
So that was this morning’s breakfast.
An incredibly flaky pastry, my new favourite recipe after modifying a wonderful one I found on Saveur (details later), drizzled with chocolate and almond glaze and topped with fresh vanilla bean ice cream, encasing the baked and glorious juices of roasted strawberry, melting chocolate, and what turned out to be the highlight for me– marzipan.
I used to hate the stuff, believe it or not. Marzipan, I mean. When I was a kid and invited to a party with cakes neatly dressed in marzipan, I would feel all too inclined to turn away an otherwise perfect plate of cake. The smell of ground almonds pressed with sugar somehow made me feel sick to the stomach. Now, I can’t see how this could be half as special without the addition of sweet, fudgy marzipan. Coarse, yet chewy, the density upping the indulgence that much more.
Yes, this was all before a little bit of the filling overflowed. I liked that quite a lot, actually; picking all the crusty bits from the parchment paper, simultaneously enforcing neatness and deriving gross pleasure from picking up the dejected trails the oven always leaves in its wake. Other things I liked about making this beautiful delicious mess was rubbing lots of butter into flour and stirring the strawberries as they cooked and bubbled in the pan. Sauce thickened, excitement grew.
Cut into one, and you get a jammy, fudgy mess. The hot, crusty, flaky-as-ever pastry works too well with a nice scoop of cold vanilla bean ice cream or cold cream. The almond and chocolate glazes up the ante with their showgirl effect, reflecting the filling’s personality. The strong hint of almond essence in the former may be left out if one isn’t too keen on that flavour. I haven’t been this excited about a recipe in a long while. I’d say 11/10.
Strawberry, Chocolate and Marzipan Hand Pies with Almond and Chocolate Glaze (makes 6-7 3×4-inch hand pies)
For the pastry dough, lightly adapted from here:
252g (around 2 cups) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting your counter later on
1 tbsp white sugar
large pinch of salt
226g (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into cubes and chilled for 5 minutes in the freezer before using
1 egg, beaten in a bowl
1 egg for brushing the pastry edges later on
For the filling:
10g unsalted butter
400g strawberries, hulled and chopped into small pieces
1 tbsp white sugar
1 tbsp white vinegar (any white is good; I used a local brand of diluted cane vinegar)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
40g ready-roll marzipan (which can be easily broken up into pea-sized chunks with your fingers)
half cup chopped chocolate or chocolate chips
For the almond glaze:
100g icing sugar
1/2 tsp almond essence (very strong, so I shall leave this to your own discretion)
4-5 tsp whole milk
For the chocolate glaze:
40g baking coverture chocolate (or any regular brand of chopped chocolate or chocolate chips), melted in 30-second increments in the microwave
Make the dough. Ready some cling film. You can put all the ingredients in a food processor but I personally think rubbing butter into flour is ludicrously therapeutic, so I do that instead. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar and salt. Rub the butter into the flour until you get pea-size crumbles and maybe a few larger bits of butter. The dough will briefly hold together if you squeeze some of the mix together in your palm. At this point, mix in half the beaten egg. If the mix does not hold together well upon squeezing at this point, then add a little more egg, bit by bit. Flour your hands, flatten the dough into a shallow disc, wrap with cling film and let the dough chill in the fridge for at least 45 minutes (that’s how long I waited for mine, though the original recipe states at least an hour for good measure).
Make the filling. In a medium-sized saucepan and with a wooden spoon, mix together the strawberries, butter, sugar and vinegar. Cook for 5-6 minutes or until very soft, and the juices have leaked but thickened a little. Mix in the black pepper, then taste. If it’s not as tangy as you would like, add a splash more of vinegar. Using the edge of your wooden spoon, mash a few chunks of strawberry against the side of the bowl. This will help thicken the cooked mass of ingredients and yield a more jam-like texture at the end. Let the mix cool on the counter for half an hour before using.
After the pastry has chilled, it can be rolled out and then filled. Preheat your oven to 200C (400F). Lightly flour your counter and rolling pin, then roll out your dough till it’s approximately 1/3 of an inch thick. Cut the dough into 3×4-inch rectangles, then place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roll up the dough scraps, roll out again with the rolling pin, then do the same. On one rectangle, place a teaspoon of strawberry filling in the centre, then add a few chocolate chips and a few mini chunks of marzipan (you can break it up yourself). Use the other beaten egg to brush the edges of all the pastry rectangles, then fold one edge of dough onto the other half. Use a small fork to crimp the edges. Prick the tops using the same fork, then brush the tops with any remaining egg. bake for 20-22 minutes (mine took 20). Leave to cool for 10 minutes on the counter before drizzling with the glazes.