Saturday, February 5, 2011

Nutella Ricotta Pocket Pies for World Nutella Day

I first remember eating Nutella sometime in high school, likely at a friends house and remember loving it instantly. The chocolately nutty goodness was my ideal.  I don't ever remember having it at my parents house, either mom couldn't find it, because this was before Nutella could be bought at any grocery store, or she decided we just didn't need another sweet spread on top of peanut butter and jelly.

I then went away to college and my love for Nutella took a back burner to boys, books and beer (not in that order).  My junior year I went to Florence to live and study for a semester and it was then that my true love affair with Nutella began.  My roommate brought out first jar home, just a small jar and we went through it in two days.  See this is what happens when you live upstairs from a bread bakery and your favorite little shopkeeper on the corner carries Nutella.  Throughout the semester we would, on most mornings, buy a loaf a bread and eat half of it in the morning with Nutella and the other half at dinner with olive oil.  But it was that freshly baked bread dripping with hazelnut and chocolate that I really remember and miss dearly.

In the 13 years since I studied in Florence I don't buy Nutella all that much, mainly because I lack the self control needed to not eat an entire jar in two days and while that sounds lovely, I know my waistline wouldn't appreciate it.  Since the boy and I have been living together, I have bought the odd jar of Nutella but it usually goes bad because for some blasphemous reason he hates this spreadable gold and while I exercise self control the little jar gets forgotten.

Upon hearing that Bleeding Espresso and Ms. Adventures in Italy named today World Nutella Day I knew I had to make something simply because Nutella is so nostalgic thing for me. It reminds me of my time in Florence, how amazing it was and how I can't wait to return to show the Boy this city that I love so dearly and maybe make him try to real deal Italian Nutella.  I came up with a few ideas, but none stuck as much as these hand pies.  I love pie and I actually haven't made one in far too long.  Plus my mom got me the adorable heart and star hand pie molds from William-Sonoma last year and I had yet to use them.  I figured I'd kill two birds with one stone and make an adorable Valentine shaped pie and create a Nutella Day entry.  

Nutella Ricotta Hand Pies
make 9 pies

2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 Tbsps icing sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground Vietnamese cinnamon
1 cup shortening
1 large egg
1 Tbsp white vinegar
1/4 cup iced cold water

1 1/2 cups ricotta
1/2 cup mascarpone or cream cheese - at room temperature
3 Tbsps sugar
1/4 tsp Vietnamese cinnamon
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup nutella
2 Tbsps heavy cream

1. In a large bowl whisk together the dry ingredients for the crust. Cut in the shortening until you get a small crumb-like consistency.  In a small bowl whisk together the egg, vinegar and water.  Mix the wet into the dry using a fork.  Form the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least an hour.
2.  While the pie crust is chilling, using a hand mixer mix together the ricotta, mascarpone, sugar and cinnamon.  Once combined beat in the egg and vanilla extract.  Set aside.
3.  Take 1/3 of the chilled pie dough and roll out on a lightly floured surface.  You can either use one of the Williams-Sonoma Pocket Pie molds (I used the heart for Valentine's Day) or cut out the shapes with a large cookie cutter or a knife, the following directions are for using the mold.
4.  Place the bottom half in the pie (without the vent) in the smooth side of the mold, carefully press into place making sure the edge of the dough stays above the well.
5. Fill with 2-3 Tbsps of ricotta filling and top with 1-2 tsps of Nutella.  Brush cream along the edge of the dough, place the vented piece on top, lining up the edges and close the mold to seal.  Carefully remove and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
6.  Repeat with the rest of the dough and filling, I collected the scraps and rerolled them once, much like with cookie dough.
7.  Bake in a 375F oven for 30-40 minutes until the crust is golden. Let cool for 1 hour.  Sprinkle with icing sugar and serve while still slightly warm.

I LOVE these individual little pies.  There are all kind of rumor of what dessert will replace the cupcake in terms of insane trendiness, well I put these adorable little pie into contention. They are sweet and nutty and so much fun to eat!  If only I could get the Boy to try one!

If you love all things Nutella and what to celebrate it all year long be sure to check out the new Nutella Food Porn site Bella Nutella where you can share your Nutella pics and ogle all things chocolate & hazelnut.

Happy Nutella Day!

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