Sundays are the days when I am in full spirit to experiment and to give in to the urge to bake! So last weekend morning, I baked these cute little heart-shaped, mildly sweet hand pies for breakfast. These hand pies have a flaky crust and the filling is the mélange of a creamy, fruity and nutty goodness. These pies are completely vegetarian. I used edible food colours (Wilton) to make it a little colourful and more exciting. I love hand pies because these are neat and can be hand-held: so even your kid can munch it on their way to school. You can make these hand pies a day or two in advance and store in Ziploc bags in the refrigerator. Whenever you want to eat, just warm a little and you are ready for a quick snack (or dessert) anytime of the day! These sweet pies are especially great for breakfast or brunch.
These sweet vegetarian hand pies with cottage cheese filling are great for picnic and in the kids’ lunchboxes. We have used fresh, chopped Alphonso mangoes in this recipe, as this is the time when Mumbai is raining Alphonsoes. I happened to make some fresh paneer (Indian cottage cheese) on Sunday morning for cooking Palak Paneer, but I changed my mind and used the paneer for this recipe instead. I used pine nuts and dried blueberries for the crunch. I used very less amount of butter, as compared to the conventional hand-pie recipes, as I wanted a healthier version of sweet hand pies.
The homemade paneer is made by boiling (and stirring from time to time) 500 ml milk, lowering the flame and adding 1.5 tbsp of vinegar dissolved in 5 tbsp water.
As soon as paneer separates, add 8–10 ice cubes to arrest the process and to stop the paneer to become harder and drier. Pass the paneer and the whey through a muslin cloth. Drain the whey and sprinkle 3 cups of cold water on the paneer in the muslin cloth. Hang the muslin cloth (with the paneer) or leave it over a perforated sieve for 15 min. The paneer for these hand pies should be very soft and not too dry.
Vegetarian Breakfast Hand Pies with Mildly Sweet Cottage Cheese (Paneer) Filling
- Freshly made soft paneer
(Indian cottage cheese): made with 500 ml full-cream cow’s milk
- Fresh Alphonso mangoes (chopped into small pieces): 1 cup
- Small-sized banana: 1
- Sugar (unpowdered): 1 tbsp
- Pine nuts: 1.5 tbsp
- Dried blueberries: 1 tbsp
- Chilled butter (grated or cut into tiny pieces): ½ cup
- All-purpose flour: 4 cups
- Salt: ¼ tsp
- Chilled buttermilk: as required (to knead the dough)
- Wilton’s orange and brown edible food colours: each just enough to smear half of a toothpick
Mash the paneer, sugar and banana well. Add the chopped mangoes and blueberries, ensuring that these do not become mushy. Add the pine nuts at the end and mix lightly. This is the sweet stuffing.
For the pie crust, mix the all-purpose flour, salt and butter together. Now add 1 cup buttermilk and knead. Add the rest of the buttermilk in very small batches, until you get a smooth and non-sticky dough.
The dough is chilled, rolled out, divided into two portions and then chilled again. This will ensure that you get somewhat flaky layers. Take out the two doughs from the fridge and add Wilton’s orange colour into one and the brown into the other dough and create a “marbled” effect with these colours as you gently incorporate the colours into the doughs.
Roll out half of the coloured pie dough on a floured surface, ensuring not to roll it too thinly. Using a three-inch, heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut out hearts. Do the same with the other dough as well.
Put a little of the filling over one heart and seal with the other heart, using a pie press or the tines of a fork to crimp the edges. Transfer to parchment-paper-lined cookie sheets.
Preheat the oven to 220⁰C. When the oven is ready, brush the tops of the pies with a little molten butter and sprinkle some sugar. Bake for 30 min, or until the crusts get light brown at the edges.
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