Buttery, flaky puff pastry is indulgent to eat and can be labor-intensive to make from scratch. With this recipe for Chocolate Hazelnut Hand Pies, we use an abbreviated version to create rough puff pastry that takes less time but definitely does not sacrifice on those flaky layers or on that ultra-buttery flavor!
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What is Rough Puff Pastry?
Traditional puff pastry is made using a large slab of butter enveloped in layers of dough. The dough and butter is rolled, folded, and chilled several times over. This process creates layers upon layers of butter and dough.
When baked, the layers of cold butter hit the heat of the oven creating steam which causes the dough to puff up, creating those iconic buttery, flaky layers of pastry.
Alternatively, rough puff pastry is an easier, faster version of puff pastry that still allows us to achieve those iconic layers. The biggest difference between traditional puff pastry and rough puff pastry is the way the butter is incorporated.
In puff pastry, butter is layered on top of the dough in one large piece or slab and requires a bit more precision in terms of size. In rough puff pastry, butter is incorporated in small pieces.
Cutting down on time and energy but not on layers of lamination, this no-fuss recipe uses Bob’s Red Mill Organic All-Purpose Flour, a flour that is soft enough to keep things tender, but robust enough to handle multiple letter folds and roll outs. Let’s get rolling!
Ingredients needed to make Puff Pastry Hand Pies
First, we make the rough puff pastry then the filling. To prepare the puff pastry, these ingredients are needed:
- Bob’s Red Mill Organic All-Purpose Flour: Dough that needs to be laminated requires a special kind of flour. Too low in protein, like cake or pastry flour, and the dough will not develop enough gluten to hold and maintain its laminated layers. Too high in protein, like bread flour, and the end result will be too tough. Bob’s Red Mill Organic All-Purpose Flour offers the strength needed while still allowing the dough to bake into a melt-in-your mouth pastry
- Unsalted Butter: Butter is the defining flavor of this dough, so look for a milk fat-rich European-style butter, which has more fat than the generic grocery store butter. As for unsalted versus salted—salt content can vary across different brands of butter, so I recommend using unsalted butter, which allows us to add the exact amount of kosher salt desired
- Kosher Salt: Salt is the all-encompassing flavor booster, and pastry without salt tends to taste flat. Salt also plays its part in gluten formation by strengthening interactions between gluten molecules, giving the dough more structure. I like kosher salt because it is a pure, mined, additive-free salt that has a crisp, clean taste. Furthermore, it is flaked rather than granulated, which allows for more even distribution
- Water: Two factors regarding water can make or break your rough puff dough: temperature and the amount used. Ice water keeps butter firm and prevents it from melting into the dough, which leads to flakiness. Tenderness comes from limiting the amount of water used to hydrate the dough. I like to fill up a measuring cup with ice then add filtered water, letting that sit for at least 5-10 minutes before straining out the ice and measuring the amount needed for the recipe
- Egg: Egg is used to help seal the hand pie layers together and to create an egg wash for a shiny, golden crust
- Demerara or Granulated Sugar: A sprinkling of sugar on top adds a touch of sweetness to our dough, as well as a welcome note of crunch. Either demerara or granulated may be used
An Easy, Delicious Filling for Hand Pies
What could be better than filling these buttery, flaky hand pies with a luscious, smooth chocolate hazelnut filling? And this filling couldn’t be easier to prepare.
To make the filling, you'll need the following ingredients:
- Chocolate: I recommend using chocolate baking bars rather than chocolate chips for this. The chocolate will melt easier and smoother, helping create an ideal filling for your puff pastry. Rough chop the chocolate and place in a bowl
- Heavy Cream: Once heated, the heavy cream is poured over the chocolate to melt into a silky smooth ganache. Be careful not to wander too far from the stovetop when the cream is heating - it can easily boil over, creating a real mess on your stovetop!
- Hazelnut Spread: The flavors of chocolate and hazelnut pair together so well. When added to buttery layers of dough, the result is magical! I recommend using Nutella, however, any hazelnut spread will work here
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
This rough puff dough will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months, so you can be ready to make these pies at a moment’s notice. You can make the dough through step 6, rolling it out and cutting it into rectangles before freezing (wait to make the filling until you’re ready to bake).
After your rectangles of dough have been allowed to freeze solid on a baking sheet in the freezer, you can transfer them to a plastic freezer bag or an airtight container. If you’re worried about your dough sticking together, you can layer squares of parchment between each rectangle. When it comes time to bake your hand pies, all you’ll have to do is fill, crimp, set, and bake
At every step of this rough puff and hand pie process, your butter should be cold. Even before mixing, make sure you’ve got firm butter going into the stand mixer. You want this butter to stay slightly chunky, and if you start with softened or room temperature butter, it’ll smooth out into a homogenous spread.
The cold butter, when placed in the oven, will create steam, forming the flaky layers of dough we are looking for in this recipe.
I have not tried making this recipe with frozen puff pastry. It will work in this recipe, however, traditional puff pastry does tend to puff up and rise more than rough puff pastry, so the result may look a bit different than those pictured
Yes! This recipe will work with all sorts of different fillings. Try filling with jam, pecan pie, pumpkin, apple or cherry pie filling. Substitute in equal amounts called for in the recipe
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- 3 cups Bob’s Red Mill Organic All-Purpose Flour
- 1 ⅔ cups unsalted butter cold, cut into ½-inch cubes
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- ⅔ cup ice water
- 1 large egg lightly beaten
- 1 ½ tablespoons Demerara sugar or granulated sugar
Chocolate Hazelnut Filling
- 8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate baking bars coarsely chopped
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 5 tablespoons creamy Nutella or hazelnut spread
Prepare the Rough Pastry
- Freeze butter until firm, 15 to 20 minutes.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat flour, cold butter, and salt at low speed just until butter is coated with flour, 15-30 seconds. You just want each butter piece coated, not cut up in any way..
- With the mixer on low speed, add ⅔ cup (160 grams) ice water in a slow, steady stream, beating just until dough comes together, about 1 minute, stopping to scrape sides of bowl and turn dough to help dough hydrate evenly. (There will still be large pieces of butter. It is OK if a few dry bits remain). Pie dough and rough puff dough need just enough hydration to come together and pouring in a slow steady stream helps ensure you’re monitoring the changing texture of your dough. Also, be sure to remove the ice cubes from your ice water before you begin measuring. An ice cube falling into the dough could be just enough extra water to take your mixture from doughy to pastry.
- Turn out onto a lightly floured surface, and roll gently into a 9-inch square; do not knead. Wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Gentle mixing ensures that the butter isn’t broken down too much and keeps the dough from developing too much gluten. After mixing, it’s okay to have some dry spots of flour, but your dough should be cohesive. If your mixer doesn’t hydrate the dough evenly, you can gently knead the dough a little by hand. Forming the dough into a compact 9-inch square will also help you knead together the pieces. Your hands are more thorough (and more gentle) than continued mixing in the stand mixer.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into an 18x10-inch rectangle, lightly flouring surface and top of dough as needed; fold dough in thirds, like a letter. Rotate dough 90 degrees; roll into an 18x10-inch rectangle, and fold into thirds, like a letter. Repeat this procedure once more. Folding the dough like a letter stacks the pieces of butter within the dough. This repeated stacking creates layers of butter, allowing for the signature “puff” when the butter steams in the oven. Wrap dough in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. You will fold the dough into thirds a total of 3 times. If at any point the butter is too soft after a fold, wrap in plastic wrap, and freeze until butter is firm again, checking in 5-minute intervals. However, if you place it in the freezer during the folds, make sure you keep an eye on it. If it gets too cold, the dough could crack as you roll it out.
Prepare the filling
- Place chopped chocolate into a large bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Once it begins to form bubbles and begins to boil, remove the pan from the heat then pour over the chocolate. Stir gently using a wooden spoon until smooth. Stir in the Nutella until fully incorporated. Place in the fridge to chill until ready to use.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into an 18½x16½-inch rectangle (about ⅛ inch thick). Trim edges to create an 18x16-inch rectangle. Cut into 24 (4x3-inch) rectangles. Place flat on the prepared pan, and freeze until firm. Place 12 rectangles at least 1 inch apart on the pan. If all do not fit on one pan, cover the first layer with parchment, and stack a second layer on top. No need to get a second pan. Spread 1½ tablespoons (33 grams) Chocolate Hazelnut Filling onto rectangles, leaving a ¼- to ½-inch border around edges. To keep this process from getting sticky, try using a 1½ tablespoon spring-loaded scoop to portion out the filling. Brush all edges of dough with egg; top with remaining rectangles. Using the tines of a fork dipped in flour, seal edges. (Remove from pan to seal edges if it is easier to work with). Make sure the edges are well sealed so they don’t leak, so be firm with your fork. If you find that the two sheets of dough aren’t meeting up evenly, use a pastry wheel to trim the edges. Freeze until firm, 5 to 10 minutes.
- Brush tops of dough with egg; sprinkle with demerara sugar. The egg wash will give the pastry color and shine, while the sugar adds a touch of crunch. The “X” cut acts as a vent for our wet filling, allowing steam to release from the pie without bursting, so be sure to cut completely through the dough. Using a paring knife, score a small “X” onto the top of the dough.
- Bake until the sides look dry and the tops and bottoms are a deep golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Properly sealed and crimped pies shouldn’t leak any filling, but in case one or two have some leaks, be careful moving the pies to a cooling rack. That filling is hot! Let cool on the pan for 10 minutes. Remove from the pan, and let cool on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.
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