A recipe for apple cream-cheese hand pies. The dollop of cream cheese nestled under the pie filling makes these desserts flaky, buttery, apple-y perfection.
Apple season is a busy time in our house. If you’ve been meaning to visit, it’s a good time to stop by. I treat the months of October and November as one long lead-up to Thanksgiving, which, coincidentally, is one of my favorite holidays. Thanksgiving is all about my favorite things: family, friends, and eating. The kitchen smells amazing for weeks at a time as I churn out pies, tarts, apple butter and gallons of applesauce.
All of these apple desserts mean I need a tremendous quantity of apples.
This year, I decided to get my apples straight from the source. I wrangled my friend Rachael into going with me on a you-pick apple adventure about an hour north of San Francisco.
In addition to picking some apples for eating, I was also in search of seconds.
Seconds are the apple-lover’s gold mine. The apples are a little worse for the wear, with a few nicks and dings or even a soft spot or two, but applesauce doesn’t care. The seconds go into the pot and emerge just as tasty as the perfect apples. For baked goods, I just cut out the mushy spots and my dessert eaters are none the wiser. Seconds often cost half the price of first-quality apples. This is key when you’re looking to buy more apples than you can carry.
On our apple-picking adventure day, we arrived at the orchard after making the short drive north to Sebastopol. My bulk-apple mission in mind, my first stop was the little tent where an old woman sat minding the cash register. “I want to buy bulk apples for canning; do you have any seconds available for purchase in large quantities?” I asked. The old woman sitting behind the desk cocked her head to one side and looked at me quizzically. “You’ll have to ask my husband,” she said, gesturing to her right.
I found him around the corner of one of the farm buildings and repeated my inquiry. He also seemed a little taken aback. “We don’t usually sell the seconds,” he said. “We use them to make juice.” He paused and thought a little longer. “You mean you want to pick them up off the ground?”
“I guess I could sell you a few boxes,” he said. “We keep them in the cooler before we make them into juice.”
“That would be perfect! Of course, we still want to pick our own apples, too, but I would be ever-so-appreciative if I didn’t have to pick all fifty pounds by myself,” I responded with a laugh, also relieved that I didn’t have to pick all fifty pounds off the dusty orchard grounds.
The first desserts to come out of the trunk-load of apples we lugged home that day were these gorgeous apple cream cheese hand pies. To be completely honest, this is my first foray into hand pies. You’d never guess, though—they came out perfectly. Flaky and buttery and apple-y and sweet. And as a crust lover, the crust-to-filling ratio on these babies is off the chain.
The secret ingredient, though? The dollop of Philadelphia Cream Cheese nestled under the apple pie filling. I included it on a whim, and I feel like I’ve broken some sort of dessert sound barrier. This is next-level stuff. They are definitely going to make an appearance on my Thanksgiving table.
With the holiday right around the corner, I want to put Philadelphia Cream Cheese in all my pie-related recipes. It’s made with fresh milk and real cream—no preservatives. Nothing tastes quite like it. It just added this unexpected creamy richness to the hand pies that really complemented the filling nicely. It’s really the start of something beautiful.
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Apple Cream-Cheese Hand Pies Recipe
A recipe for apple cream-cheese hand pies. A dollop of cream cheese nestled under the pie filling makes these desserts flaky, buttery, apple-y perfection.
- Cook Time: 35 minutes
- Total Time: 35 minutes
- Yield: 20 1x
- Category: Dessert
- Cuisine: American
For the cream cheese filling:
- 4 ounces Philadelphia Cream Cheese, at room temperature (1/2 package)
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- Zest of one lemon
- 1 egg yolk
For the apple pie filling
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1 3/4 pounds of apples, peeled, cored and diced (about 5 cups)
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon allspice
- 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 grind fresh black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon cloves
- 2 dashes Angostura bitters (optional)
For the All-Butter Pie Crust:
- 5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (312g)
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 pound (4 sticks) cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 2 cups cold water
- 1/2 cup cider vinegar
- 2 cups ice
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- Raw or demerara sugar for finishing
Make the fillings:
- Combine cream cheese filling ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until smooth. Place in fridge until ready to use.
- For the apple pie filling, melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Add the rest of the filling ingredients and cook over medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes, until apples are soft but not mushy. Use a slotted spoon to strain out the apple pieces. Return the pan to the stove and continue to cook for another 5 to 10 minutes until juice is reduced to 1/3 and is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Pour thickened juice back onto apples. Let cool to room temperature.
Make the All-Butter Pie Crust
- Stir the flour, salt, and sugar together in a large bowl. Add the butter pieces and coat with the flour mixture using a bench scraper or spatula. With a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour mixture, working quickly until mostly pea-sized pieces of butter remain (a few larger pieces are OK; be careful not to over blend).
- Combine the water, cider vinegar, and ice in a large measuring cup or small bowl. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of the ice-water mixture over the flour mixture, and mix and cut it in with a bench scraper or spatula until it is fully incorporated. Add more of the ice-water mixture, 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time, using the bench scraper or your hands (or both) to mix until the dough comes together in a ball, with some dry bits remaining. Squeeze and pinch with your fingertips to bring all the dough together, sprinkling dry bits with more small drops of the ice-water mixture, if necessary, to combine. Shape the dough into a flat disc, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, preferably overnight, to give the crust time to mellow.
- Wrapped tightly, the dough can be refrigerated for 3 days or frozen for 1 month.
Make the Hand Pies:
- Preheat oven to 350F
- Roll chilled pie dough out on floured surface to approximately 1/8 inch thick. Use a cookie cutter to cut out forty 4-inch circles, re-rolling if necessary. Place a dollop of cream cheese in the center of half of the circles. Top with a spoonful of the apple pie filling.
- Cover with another pie dough round and gently pinch the edges together. Use the tines of a fork to seal further and to create a fluted edge. Cut a small X-shaped slit on the top of each pie with a paring knife.
- Use a pastry brush to brush with heavy cream and sprinkle with raw or demerara sugar. Chill in freezer for 10 minutes before baking. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes until dark golden.
Thanks to Philadelphia Cream Cheese for allowing me to partner with them to come up with some fun and delicious recipes! I had a blast. Do you have any favorite recipes using Philadelphia Cream Cheese? I’d love to hear your favorites in the comments below. For some additional inspiration, click here.