Sweet and Savory: Pear and Gruyère Hand Pies

Puff pastry is a delicious dough with a delightful name. Its French name, pate feuilletee, is even more evocative. The word feuilles means “leaves,” which is what the baked dough resembles — a buttery tower of flaky pastry leaves.

The traditional way to make puff pastry is to wrap a big block of butter with a big piece of dough and then roll and fold it, over and over again, until the butter is dispersed throughout hundreds of super-thin layers. When the butter melts in the oven, the steam created lifts the layers of dough into a lovely golden puff.

You can make the whole process even easier by cutting the butter into the flour just as you would for a pie, then rolling and folding the dough. The method works well and yields beautiful results. If you have a little time, try making your puff pastry from scratch.

But if you’re short on time, don’t worry. These days practically every supermarket offers frozen puff pastry. For the best results, always seek out the brands that have the fewest ingredients and that use real butter. Puff pastry is all about the butter, and that’s the flavor you’ll want to come through. Just thaw the dough according to the package instructions and fold it around a filling that is sweet, savory or — as in the case of this pear and Gruyere recipe — both, to create portable hand pies.

Get the Recipe: Pear and Gruyere Hand Pies

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Samantha Seneviratne is a New York-based writer, recipe developer and food stylist. She is the author of The New Sugar and Spice (Ten Speed Press), a baking cookbook combining family stories and food history with recipes that reimagine dessert as a more balanced mix of sugar and spice. She blogs about dessert at Love, Cake.

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