Apricot Fried Pie
Six (9-inch) rounds of pie dough (can be cut from rolled, refrigerated pie dough if you don't want to make your own)
Peanut or safflower oil, as needed, for frying
For the filling:
6 ounces dried apricots
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 to 5 drops almond extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Take pastry dough out of the refrigerator.
Prepare the filling: Combine apricots with water to cover in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat; cover and simmer until plump and soft, about 30 minutes. Add remaining filling ingredients to saucepan; mash well. Continue simmering, uncovered, until thick and cohesive, 15 to 20 minutes. Set aside.
Heat an inch of peanut or safflower oil in a large cast-iron or other heavy-bottomed skillet. Unroll pastry dough and cut out circles four- to five-inches in diameter using a jar lid, saucer, cup, or other circular cutting aid.
Lightly moisten the edges of each circle of dough with a pastry brush. Spoon a tablespoon of prepared filling into the center. Fold the circle over the filling and align with the bottom half. If any filling sneaks out as you fold, push it back a bit and try again. Wipe the edges of the dough clean; any exposed filling will burn. Press the seam closed all around the edges with your fingers, pushing in toward the center to plump the pie as you go. Use a fork to crimp. Repeat with remaining ingredients.
Use a thermometer to test the oil; once it reaches between 350˚ and 375˚F, carefully drop pies in one at a time. Fry until the edges begin to turn golden brown (about 30 seconds), and then flip and fry another 20 seconds or so. Remove hot pies to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.
These are best eaten hot out of the fryer, but can also be frozen and/or reheated. A scoop of vanilla ice cream brings them from fantastic to heavenly.
You may also bake half-moon pies on an ungreased baking sheet at 350˚F for 15 minutes.