Halloween 2011, Trick Edition: Pumpkin and date hand pie party favours

Jack o' lantern pumpkin and date hand pies

My birthday came and went this year without an explicitly planned Birthday Cake of Immortality (BCI). It was no real skin off my back to skip a year, as the 13-course Peking Duck banquet we threw at Red Star suited me just fine.

Red Star: Peking duck

It was brought to my attention, however, that the party favours that we created for our 30 guests not only made Halloweentastic gourmet treats but met the standards for a Birthday Cake of Immortality (a metaphoric eating of flesh).

Now that you’re done looking at previous BCIs and have managed to push your nausea down, I’ll share our tricks for creating these less controversial, delicious, and seasonally appropriate hand pies filled with pumpkin and Medjool dates.

The Filling

Time to meander over to The Cooking Photographer. Laura’s recipe is the one that came up when I Googled “jack o’ lantern hand pie”, and after seeing her handiwork, no other hand pie would do for my guests.

Since I needed 4x the number of hand pies that Laura’s recipe made, I naturally made 4x the amount of filling that a single batch called for. Big mistake!

Pumpkin and Medjool date pie filling

That’s all we needed per hand pie: a spoonful! One batch of filling was therefore more than enough to fill the 30 hand pies we made. It’s not too horrible if you make too much, though; stuff the remainder into a normal-sized pie and you’re all set.

The Dough

Rolling out the dough

My well-tempered friend Eagranie Yuh came over last August and taught me her tried-and-true pie pastry technique, which she had, in turn, learned from Kate McDermott, Seattle baker extraordinaire.

To give both ladies their proper due, I will simply link to their respective articles. Click away!

These particular hand pies were commemorating a Peking Duck dinner so I veered slightly off-recipe, using a smidgen less of leaf lard and making up for it with a heaping tablespoon of duck fat.

Specialized Tools

Since Laura clearly described how to cut, fill, and bake the hand pies, I won’t bother reiterating the assembly instructions here. Instead, I’ll share a few tips that may save you time and ruined tester pies.

To get your pies looking like a right old jack o’ lantern, find your neighbourhood Williams Sonoma and get these babies:

We chose not to cut out a nose in our hand pies, as doing so would have left us little room around the edges to seal the sides of the pie together. Similarly, we opted for the mouths and eyes that balanced our desire to have the filling stick out with our need to keep the pies sealed.

I didn’t want to create a separate label in the party favour bag to say thank you, so spending $30 on this message cutter set just to be able to press “Thank You” on the back side of the pie was well worth it.

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Also rationalized that this set would come in handy for future occasions where I feel like writing graffiti on my desserts.

I thought they came out pretty well, don’t you?


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