Red Bean Hand Pies

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Red bean is the stuff of my childhood. I’ve eaten it as a paste stuffed in sesame balls, daifuku, japanese treats, mochi balls; I’ve had it flavored in popsicles, ice cream, even sweet zhong zi (although I much prefer savory ones); I’ve had it in a thick sweet soup, dotted with glutinous rice balls. If you’ve visited China at some point, you probably have encountered this ubiquitous flavor. It’s made from sweet red beans, which is purchasable from any asian grocery store. The paste can be bought pre-made as well, but I find that making it myself is much more preferable, as I can control its consistency and sweetness.

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If you’ve been a reader for awhile, you’ll know that I love pies. If I could bring one food to a deserted island, it’d be stacks of pies of every kind. Savory, sweet, full pies, hand pies. half pies? I had pies at my wedding, and it was a complete hit. Who doesn’t like pies???? When you can make them yourself, you can control everything. This is the best part.

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I had to try it. Red bean paste in hand pies. I honestly didn’t know what to expect, but OMG guys it’s amazing!!!!!!!! The red bean paste is warm and is a perfect filling. The all-butter pie crust is super flaky and perfectly envelopes the red bean paste. I don’t even know how to explain it. When I presented it to my trusty taste testers, I didn’t tell them what was it in, for fear of bias. They loved it!!!!!! This is definitely going on my list of party-dishes.
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RECIPE: Red Bean Hand Pie
Pie crust adapted from Four & Twenty Blackbirds

Red Bean Paste
1 cup red beans (azuki)
3/4 cup sugar
5 tbsp vegetable oil or coconut oil

1| Prepare the day before: Soak red beans, covered, in cold water overnight (8-10 hours)
2| Rinse and drain red beans. Place red beans in a saucepan and cover with water until water level is 1″ above red beans. Bring to a boil, then reduce to low, and simmer.
3| Keep an eye on the water level. It will boil down. If the water level dips below the red beans, add some more water to keep the red beans just submerged. Do not add too much.
4| After about 1.5 hours, test the red beans. They should have burst open. Take one in between your fingers, and if it smashes open easily, it is done.
5| Add in sugar in increments (I did 3) and dissolve, stirring constantly.  Mixture should thicken. Use your wooden spoon to draw a line at the bottom of the saucepan. If the line doesn’t disappear immediately, it is ready.
6| Let cool slightly, then use either an immersion blender or a normal blender and mix.
7| Return to pan and stir in vegetable or coconut oil.

Double Pie Crust, 9
2 1/2 cups flour
2 sticks butter, cubed into 1 cm pieces, cold – prepare this beforehand
1 tsp salt
3 tsp sugar
3/4 cup cold water
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 egg + splash water for egg wash

1| Prepare: Cube butter into 1cm pieces, and place it in a bowl in the freezer. I find that this allows the butter to get very cold before you work with it. Put the 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar into cold water, and place this into the freezer as well. Don’t worry about it freezing- you will use it before it can freeze.
2| Combine flour, salt, sugar, black pepper.
3| Take cold butter, and using a pastry cutter, fork, or fingers, work quickly and cut butter into dry ingredients. Pea size chunks will remain, and that’s completely fine.
4| Take out cider vinegar / water mixture. Using tablespoons at a time, mix it into dry ingredients until just combined. Do not overmix or knead. Add the mixture gradually – you can always add more water, but you can’t take it out. The resulting dough should be damp but not moist.
5| Separate dough into two halves. Shape into disks and wrap with plastic wrap. Place in fridge. Let dough rest for at least 1 hour. *I find it easier to work in two batches.

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1| Roll out pie crust. Use heart shaped cookie cutters to form heart shapes.
2| Spoon 1.5 tbsp red bean paste onto the center of one heart shaped half.
3|  Using your finger, line the perimeter with some water. Gently place another heart form right over the red-bean filled heart. The water helps seal the two pieces together. Use a fork and crimp the edges.
4| Use a sharp knife to slice some slits – this lets the air out so they don’t explode.
5| Do it for as much dough as you can get. Put them on parchment paper lined baking sheet and stick it in the fridge for 10 min.
6| Preheat oven to 425. Meanwhile, beat 1 egg + a splash of milk or water together.
7| Using a pastry brush, brush it over the chilled hand pies. Sprinkle with a turn of black pepper if grinding, or just a light dash. Sprinkle liberally with demarara sugar (or raw sugar, or just granulated) and bake for 20 minutes. Then turn heat to 375 and bake for another 20-25 minutes, until it is golden brown.

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  • Love, love, love everything about this post!!! These hearts are just so darling, and your pie crust looks absolutely PERFECT. So flaky and tender and golden. Also red bean desserts are like one of my favorite desserts but I never make it since I’ve always been so intimidated. I’ll have to give this recipe a try soon!ReplyCancel

    • Thank you Michelle!! Don’t be intimidated!! It’s just a big waiting game when it comes to red bean paste – overnight soaking then patiently waiting for it to cook through :).ReplyCancel


  • i love red bean soup at the end of a big meal :) love your hand pies too, and they look like the perfect dessert for chinese new year!ReplyCancel

    • Omg red bean soup!! Yes!! With a bunch of mochi balls, right??? Ha I didn’t even think of that! I was meaning for this to be for v-day, but it totally works for lunar new year as well!ReplyCancel

      • yep, the tiny chewy mochi balls! though I’m also a huge fan of tangyuan :) i’m loving all your desserts with an asian twist – that matcha roll cake looks amazing.ReplyCancel

  • Mmmmmm yum! I just had red bean mochi for the first time and am super excited to try out more red bean things…. I can imagine how good it would taste between flaky pie crust. YUM!ReplyCancel

    • Then you have GOT to try this. It’s heavenly!! Warm, flaky pie crust with a burst of warm filling. Can’t even express it in words :)ReplyCancel

  • ermahgerd. Get in mah belly! When I used to live in Hong Kong, McDonalds there was the bomb. Red bean in their desserts. They used to sell deep fried Red bean pies! Drooling again.ReplyCancel

  • I love these! Love the hearts, the photos and red bean! I’ve been on a crazy Korean kick lately and contemplated making something like this, but it would mean my blog took an irreparable turn for the Korean and I’m trying not to give in. You may have just thrown me over the edge. These are awesome. ReplyCancel

  • When I was little my grandma called it “Chinese chocolate” to get me to eat it because in Brazil beans are normally savoury…when I found out it was beans I was freaked out and stopped eating until a got a bit older when I realized WHO CARES its soooo good! These are the cutest.ReplyCancel

  • […] But mostly it’s just enough for me. 2. Red-bean filled miniature heart pancakes!!! 3. And red-bean filled heart hand pies! 4. This short-rib miso dip sandwich is the sandwich of my […]ReplyCancel

  • Oh man…I think you and I would get along too well if we ate together!!! Pies are a favorite and so are red beans!!!ReplyCancel

  • Katie

    Thank you so much for this recipe! I also had a childhood of licking red bean paste from my fingers while I watched my mother make red bean stuffed mantou; in fact, my love of red beans is dangerously close to rivalling my love of chocolate!
    Very excited to try this — about how many hand pies can be made from this recipe?ReplyCancel

  • These red bean hand pies look divine!!
    I’m also soooo glad I stumbled upon your site – definitely happy to see the influence of Shanghainese cuisine on the food you make (my favorite Chinese cuisine, largely influenced by my dad as well). Looking forward to more reads + photos :)ReplyCancel

    • Aw thank you Vicky!! It’s such a learning experience for me, too – knowing what authentic Shanghai cuisine is does NOT easily translate to making it in one try!! There is definitely a lot of calling my mom for instructions :).ReplyCancel

  • Kaedi

    I love you for this. I had the sudden urge to make mini-pies today, and I just made fresh red bean paste yesterday, and I thought… surely someone has tried to make red bean pies! Thank you for being so enterprising and creative. I’ll make these ASAP.

    PS, your crust recipe looks perfect. I’m really surprised by the black pepper, but that sounds like it makes for an amazing combination.

    Thank you for posting!ReplyCancel

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