Date, Walnut and Goat Cheese Hand Pies

Makes 12

These flaky hand pies are filled with tangy goat cheese, chopped medjool dates, toasted walnuts and a touch of fresh lemon zest and thyme. The key to the best texture is to make sure the pastry is cold when it goes into the oven—the cold butter releases steam which is what makes the hand pies puff and rise. We like to assemble them in advance and store in the refrigerator. Pop the hand pies in the oven as your guests arrive so the whole house smells amazing. Serve as an elegant dinner party bite, or a cheesy vegetarian dinner alongside a simple green salad. 


  • 10 ounces goat cheese, at room temperature
  • ¾ cup chopped toasted walnuts
  • 6 to 8 Rancho Meladuco medjool dates (depending on size), pitted and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, plus more for garnish
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Two 14-ounce sheets all-butter puff pastry (preferably Dufour brand), thawed in the fridge overnight (See Note)
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • Sesame seeds and flaky sea salt, for sprinkling
  • Honey, for drizzling

Preheat the oven to 375°F and line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, use a fork to combine the goat cheese, walnuts, chopped dates, thyme and lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper.

On a lightly floured work surface, gently roll out each sheet of puff pastry to a 10-by-15-inch rectangle. Cut each sheet into 6 squares and then arrange on the prepared baking sheets.

Mound 1 heaping tablespoon of the filling in the center of each puff pastry square. Working one at a time, gather the corners of each square and pinch the top and edges to seal. Brush with the beaten egg and then sprinkle with sesame seeds and flaky sea salt.

Bake the hand pies for 25 to 30 minutes, or until puffed and golden brown. Transfer to a platter and drizzle with honey. Sprinkle with more fresh thyme leaves and serve right away.

NOTE If you don’t have time to thaw the puff pastry overnight, cover it with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. It should be pliable, but hold its shape. If the pastry gets too soft while you’re working with it, return to the freezer for 10 minutes. For best results, pop your assembled hand pies back in the freezer for 10 minutes before baking.

Recipe & photos: Julia Heffelfinger

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