Last week, the trees outside our flat were still heavy with leaves and the gardens were a carpet of brown. Now, there’s nothing.  It’s not been particularly cold here and it looks like we’re in for another of those grey and drizzly Christmases that we’ve specialised in recently but at least when I look out the window it feels a bit more like the end of December than it did. 

We’ve been more organised for this Christmas than we have for any other.  We wrote cards to our friends and family well in advance of the last posting date.  Our shopping was completed a couple of weeks ago and everything under the tree is wrapped and ready for distribution.  We’ve watched Home Alone (note – this is life changing information via Kathryne) and been to a carol concert.

Despite that, it seems inconceivable that Christmas is just five days away.


We have a fair amount to fit in between now and then though – weddings and birthdays and other celebrations.  I still need to start making my giant chocolate and orange battenberg for Christmas Day.


Rather than lamenting the rapidly passing days and complaining that it doesn’t really feel like Christmas, I’m determined to enjoy this festive season and all that it has in store.  There will be plenty of champagne and canapés, friends and family I haven’t seen for far too long and lots and lots of love and laughter.


It’s a little late in the year for fresh cranberries but frozen ones will work equally well – you could also use some leftover cranberry jelly/sauce from the Christmas dinner table. The chilli here is not a significant hit of heat; it’s more like how a dash of balsamic vinegar peps up some strawberries.   The pies themselves freeze rather nicely and they’re dinky enough to serve as a sweet little nibble at a party.  Or you can eat a couple alongside a scoop of ice cream.  It is Christmas after all.


cranberry hand pies (with a little kick)

Yield: About 16 little pies

The filling in these is lovely - tart from the cranberries, bright from the lemon and with a little bite from the chilli. Taste it as you go to make sure it's sweet enough for you and feel free to up the chilli if you want a bit more heat; it's pretty subtle here - just a slight kick at the end rather than overwhelming you.


    For the pastry:
  • 150g (1 1/4 cups) flour (I've used plain and spelt with no ill effects)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 115g (1 stick) butter, cold and cut into cubes
  • 1 tablespoon sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons ice cold water
  • For the filling:
  • 200g (8oz) cranberries, fresh or frozen
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • The zest and juice of a lemon
  • 1/2 mild chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cornflour
  • To finish:
  • 1 beaten egg


  1. To make the pastry, put the flour, salt and sugar in the bowl of stand mixer. Add the butter and, using the paddle attachment, beat on a low speed for a minute or so until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs and there are pea-sized lumps of butter.
  2. Whisk together the sour cream, vinegar and water and gradually add the liquid mixture to the dry ingredients until the dough starts to clump together.
  3. Flatten the dough and wrap in cling film. You should still be able to see lumps of butter running through it Chill in the fridge for about an hour until just firm.
  4. While the dough is chilling, make the filling by putting all of the ingredients in a small pan over a low heat. Cook for about 10 minutes until the cranberries have just started to break down and the mixture is sticky and jammy. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
  5. When the dough has chilled, well it out on on a well-floured piece of parchment paper until it’s about 3mm thick. Chill the flattened dough for another half an hour or so.
  6. Remove the dough from the fridge and using cut out circles about 4 inches in diameter; you should get about 16. Place a spoonful of the filling on one side of each circle, brush the edges with beaten egg and fold over the other side to make a crescent. Press down the edges to seal the little pies. Cut a vent in each pie and freeze for an hour or so until firm.
  7. Before baking, preheat the oven to 180C/350F (fan) and brush the top of the pies with beaten egg. Bake for 35 – 40 minutes until golden brown.


Adapted from these little spiced plum pies

PS, if you’re interested in hearing some more about what my Christmas looks like, my lovely friend Skye (both a fellow food blogger and a fellow classicist) has a little interview with me on her new blog.

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17 Responses to "cranberry hand pies (with a little kick)"
  1. I loved reading your post on Skye’s blog and love the look of these little pies! Perfect finger food for Christmas and such gorgeous festive colour too. If I don’t speak to you before, have an amazing Christmas!

  2. Lindsey says:

    These pies are too perfect, so cute and plump! I would never have thought to add a chili to the cranberry stuffing, sounds like an interesting combination! Also nice how the red cranberry plays off of the green chili, so festive!

  3. Skye says:

    I loved your mini spiced plum pies earlier this year – so, very excited to see a Christmas version! And love the chilli kick!
    Thank you so much for sharing your Christmas plans on my blog – loved hearing about all the wonderful things you’ll be eating… and very much looking forward to photos of the chocolate and orange battenberg :)

  4. Jalapenos and cranberries?! Am I dreaming? That sounds fantastic. I bet the heat of the pepper and acidic cranberry go so well together. I can’t wait to try this :)

  5. Merry Christmas! These look lovely – I wouldn’t have thought of a touch of chilli but it sounds lovely.

  6. These are too cute. And the addition of the chili is very clever.
    The interview on Skye’s blog is great. Loved hearing all about your Christmas menu :)

  7. Those hand pies look so great! I know, time seems to be flying by. I can’t believe it’s nearly Christmas! I always love adding a little heat to desserts, and I think the combo of cranberry and chilli sounds just lovely. Good luck with all of your last minute preparations!

  8. These are absolutely darling and I love the kick in this!! Beautiful job :)

  9. Tieghan says:

    These are so cute. I love mini pies and that kick?!? Oh man, I love that!

  10. Teffy says:

    Those look delicious and very festive!
    Perfect for the holiday season.. and every season after that!

    {Teffy’s Perks} X

  11. dana says:

    Gorgeous! Love these little gems. MUST try them this winter.

  12. These look absolutely amazing! Perfect for the holiday season. Two days till Christmas Eve. Crazy! I’m a bit struggling to find the Christmas spirit as we don’t have any snow :( Quite unusual here in Finland. However, I’m sure Christmas will be wonderful as always.

    Happy Holidays to you! xx

  13. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and get to relax after a busy few days! Love these cute hand pies.

  14. Joanne says:

    I’m pretty sure cranberries are still readily available here so I can’t wait to make these for some post-Christmas holiday parties we were invited to!! And I’m glad I’m not the only one who doesn’t quite feel like this year has been super Christmassy.

  15. I’d love one of these with a scoop of vanilla ice cream :) Hope you had a lovely Christmas!

  16. Chili in cranberry pies! I would have never thought about it. It’s so festive looking. :)

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