By Hannah White
“There was a momentary lull, broken by Hannah, who stalked in, laid two hot turnovers on the table, and stalked out again. These turnovers were an institution, and the girls called them ‘muffs’, for they had no others and found the hot pies very comforting to their hands on cold mornings.”
–Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
Here at Literary Traveler, we love the Alcotts. A Massachusetts native, Louisa May Alcott resided in the well-known Orchard House in Concord and in Boston’s Beacon Hill, which I recently explored. One of my favorite books to read around the holidays is Alcott’s Little Women. This beautiful book reminds us to be grateful for what and who we have around us during the holidays, to savor childhood nostalgia without becoming stuck in the past, and to be selfless and giving toward those who need help.
The holidays are also my favorite time of the year to bake–I love bringing desserts to friends and family, being together with the people I love and sharing delicious food. I’ve embarked on a few different literary recipe journey’s this past year, from Proust’s Madeleines, to the Charlotte Russe from Downton Abbey and Alice in Wonderland inspired cookies. And literary cocktails link here.
For this holiday season, I decided to recreate the apple turnovers from Little Women. I find that I always have an abundance of apples on hand in the fall. This is a great recipe if you have extra apples that need to be used up but if you’re sick of making apple pie or crisp. This recipe was surprisingly easy to make and extremely delicious–I’ll definitely be making these again this season.
All you need for this simple apple turnover recipe is: a package of frozen puff pastry (usually they come with two sheets, this yields 8 turnovers), about 2 cups of diced apples (3ish medium apples), 1-2 tablespoons of brown sugar, 2 tablespoons of butter, a teaspoon of vanilla, cinnamon to taste, and one egg, whisked. I also made a simple icing using powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk and drizzled this on the turnovers once they came out of the oven, but you could also dust them with powdered or sanding sugar, drizzle with caramel sauce, or leave them as is.
First, let the puff pastry thaw as directed on the packaging. Once thawed, preheat your oven to 400℉ and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. In a small pot or dutch oven, combine the chopped apples, brown sugar, cinnamon, butter, and vanilla and cook on low until it starts to bubble—you don’t want the apples to be overcooked because they will cook more in the oven.
Transfer this apple mixture to a small bowl and let it cool in the fridge. Unfold the two sheets of puff pastry on a floured surface and use a rolling pin to seal any cuts in the dough and to thin it out a bit, then cut each sheet into 4 squares.
Take the apple mixture out of the fridge and using a spoon, scoop about 1-2 spoonfuls of it into the center of each square, then fold the pastry diagonally to form triangles. Use the whisked egg to coat the edges before folding, and then crimp using a fork to seal the edges shut. Brush the tops of the turnover with egg wash and make about 2 slits in the tops before transferring to the lined baking sheets.
Bake the turnovers for about 17 minutes, or until they are golden brown. Transfer the turnovers to a cooling rack as soon as they are out of the oven, then enjoy warm or room temperature. I served them warm with icing and vanilla ice cream on the side. This is a recipe that is sure to be a hit at any holiday party or the perfect sweet treat to enjoy alone with your favorite book this holiday season.