This past Sunday, I caught an episode of Unique Eats entitled “Craving Comfort” on The Cooking Channel. One segment featured Mac ‘n’ Cheese Hand Pie served at The Pie Hole in Los Angeles. I absolutely adore macaroni and cheese and to see it used as a filling in a crusty hand pie was too much. I couldn’t stop drooling.
As the temperature in the Northeast was in the 30s with wind gusts up to 50 mph, I promptly got off the couch and headed to the kitchen to make my favorite comfort food, macaroni and cheese. I prepared a half batch of Ina Garten’s Mac & Cheese (sans tomatoes and bread crumbs). Ms. Garten includes gruyere and cheddar cheeses and the combination is decadent, making it my “go to” mac and cheese recipe. I had no inclination to go any further and make a pastry dough from scratch for hand pies, so I let it go.
When I woke this morning I couldn’t get the hand pies off my mind so I added ready-made pie crust dough to my grocery list. When I returned home I went straight into the kitchen to make my version of Mac & Cheese Mini Hand Pies using yesterday’s leftover mac and cheese. The Pie Hole uses a saucy mac and cheese, adding less pasta than you normally would if you were to serve a standard mac and cheese dish. To prevent the cheese from dripping all over during assembly, The Pie Hole refrigerates the cheese and pasta mixture so that it congeals. I didn’t have the foresight to add less pasta, but yesterday’s leftovers worked just fine for me.
I used 3″ and 4″ round cutters to control the portion size when making my hand pies. The Pie Hole‘s hand pies appear significantly larger and thus they add more cheese and pasta filling. Perhaps I will make the hand pies larger next time, but making a mini version allowed me to indulge without overdoing it.
This is what I did to assemble Mac & Cheese Mini Hand Pies:
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Bring the ready-made pie crust dough to room temperature. Lightly flour the work surface and unroll one pie crust (mine came two to a package). Use a round cutter to cut out the dough or use a knife to cut square pieces. (You could also use puff pasty dough instead of standard pastry dough.)
- Add about 2 tablespoons of leftover macaroni and cheese to the center of the dough. The amount of filling depends on the size of the cut dough, but don’t overstuff!
- Wet the edges of the dough with water and fold the dough over to created a half moon. Use a fork to seal and crimp the edges.
- Place the pies on a parchment-lined baking sheet and continue to assemble the rest of the hand pies.
- Brush the top of each pie with egg wash.
- Combine 3 tablespoons panko bread crumbs and 2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese. Top each pie with 1 to 2 teaspoons of the bread crumb mixture.
- Place the sheet pan in the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown and crusty. Enjoy!
Thank goodness I restrained myself and used only one pie crust dough to make Mac & Cheese Mini Hand Pies. These are yummy and perfect for a snowy April day, but I’m ready to move on from comfort foods and on to fresh Spring offerings!