It was a Tuesday evening, my husband was away on a weeklong business trip and my son was acting out in true two-year-old style – I needed a homemade treat and I needed one fast. I dug in the fridge for any remnants of ingredients I could use for an impromptu recipe. Although the pickings were slim since my husband’s trips and national guard weekends are when I try my hardest to reduce our grocery bill, a gleaming beacon of hope shone from the back of the fridge – ricotta cheese. Oh ricotta, how I love thee.
I dug in the cupboard for options to pair with the ricotta. Baking chocolate? Heck, yes! A delicious dessert was taking form but I also wanted something nutty. Luckily, a small package of almonds was perched on the shelf, begging for attention. Eureka!
Now, how to pull the three ingredients together into something that would soothe my irritated soul? Then, I remembered the pie dough chilling in the fridge leftover from the weekend’s cranberry apple pie. I wasn’t in the mood for a full pie slice, but I could go for a mini hand pie. In a flurry of baking adrenaline, I rolled out the dough, blended the filling, threw together the hand pies and placed them in the oven.
This experiment is typical of my random baking urges and these recipes are often my most delicious. Seriously, these chocolate ricotta almond mini hand pies were freaking delicious and were just what I needed to calm down and enjoy the evening alone with my son.
Makes about 16 mini hand pies
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, very cold
- 10 to 12 tablespoons ice cold water
- 3/4 cup ricotta cheese
- 3 ounces baking chocolate
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 2 tablespoons chopped almonds
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon water
- Sugar for garnishing
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt and sugar. Mix until combined.
- Dice the butter into small chunks and dump the chunks in with the flour mixture.
- Using your hands, begin tossing together the flour mixture and butter, crumbling the butter with your fingers until the butter chunks are about the size of peas.
- Slowly add the tablespoons of water, tossing the flour mixture while adding the water to ensure the mixture is evenly wet.
- Press the dough into a ball, ensuring you press any loose pieces that may remain in the bowl in with the ball.
- Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
- Melt the baking chocolate in a small saucepan over low heat. Remove from heat immediately after the chocolate is melted. Let cool slightly.
- In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the ricotta cheese, almond extract and chopped almonds. Slowly pour the melted chocolate in with the ricotta mixture, stirring while doing so. Continue stirring the mixture until all ingredients are fully combined.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Remove the dough from the fridge and roll out on a lightly floured surface using a rolling pin. Begin cutting the dough into 6-inch circles (or about that size) that will become the mini hand pies.
- Be sure that the dough does not overheat or become soft by placing the cut-out circles in the fridge until ready to use.
- After the dough circles are cut, place a small portion of the filling onto one-half of each circle. Fold the other half of the dough over the filling and pinch the seam to seal. Crimp the seams of each hand pie with a fork to finalize the seal.
- Whisk together the egg and 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl. Brush the egg wash on top of each hand pie and sprinkle sugar over each one. Cut two small slits in the top of each hand pie and place them on a greased baking sheet.
- Place the baking sheet with the hand pies on the oven’s center rack and bake for about 30 minutes or until the crust is lightly browned. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly before eating.
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