I spent the summers with my grandparents growing up. As with most kids in the summer, I would play in the yard and wander around looking for things to get into. Ms. Heck was the lady that lived next door and she had a fig tree that hung over the fence into our yard. She also had a brown Chihuahua named Coco that used to bark and bite my heels when I came to visit. I was terrified of Coco and this kept me out of her yard, however, I could reach the figs on my side of the fence. Juicy dark purple fruit with light green tops that were always warm from the sun. I found them irresistible and would eat the sweet globes of fruity candy until I made myself sick, with remnants of sticky syrup all over my face and hands like a crime scene. I thought I had found a treasure that no one else knew about, the figs hidden under the big fuzzy leaves of the tree. That is until Coco gave me away.
When I saw figs in the grocery store, I once again couldn't resist. I immediately bought them to make something incredible, like a fresh fruit tart. When I described the idea to my wife, she told me about the fig hand pies her grandmother used to make that were her favorite treat. Now I know you are thinking it's a bad idea to attempt to replicate a recipe that was originally made by a southern grandmother. Grandma dishes are sacred and our taste memories transcend reality when it comes to feelings of love and security. However, I am the adventurous type and am rarely deterred culinarily. I saw this as the perfect opportunity for an aggiornamento and the gluten free, vegan version of the creole fig hand pie was born using cassava flour. The dough is very tender yet forgiving. I love the feeling of kneading dough in my hands, however, don't bear down on this dough. Be gentle and use parchment paper to help you roll it out, fold it over and transfer it to the baking sheet. The hand pie has the texture of a pop tart when it comes out of the oven but will soften if you leave it covered overnight. Let me know if you make them and how it turns out. Tag a photo at #theverdantplate on Instagram. Enjoy!
Creole Fig Hand Pies
1 pound figs, cut into quarters
1/2 cup sugar
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon basil, finely chopped
- Combine everything in a saucepan and simmer on medium heat 20 minutes.
- Break up figs with a potato masher, cool.
1 cup cassava flour
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup non-diary butter or shortening, cold
3/4 cup ice water
- Heat oven to 450F.
- Combine dry ingredients in a food processor. Add butter and pulse until crumbly. Add water until dough comes together.
- Knead lightly and divide into 8 balls. Refrigerate 15 minutes.
- The dough is very tender yet forgiving. Use long strokes of a small rolling pin and continuously turn the dough to keep it even. Roll out each ball on parchment paper into an 8-inch round.
- Add 2 tablespoons of jam to one half of the dough and moisten the edge. Use the parchment to fold over the other half. Use a fork to lightly seal the edge.
- Peel off the parchment paper and transfer to a lined baking sheet. (trust me, the parchment paper will make your life soooo much easier)
- Brush the tops with little melted butter and sprinkle with sugar. Bake 25 minutes until golden.