Celebrate Pi Day the Pie Way with this Recipe from Wild Love Bakehouse

When we heard Wild Love Bakehouse called the best bakery in the U.S.A. (worth driving “22,234 miles across 26 states” for), we knew we had to check it out. The Knoxville-based bakery incorporates fresh and local eggs, milk, flour, and more into recipes that are painstakingly developed, yet never ever pretentious. Case in point: its legendary hand pies.

Described as “grown-up Pop Tarts” for palettes both sophisticated and simple, Wild Love’s hand pies have just the right ratio of golden crust to gooey inside—no utensils required.

So when we needed a pie recipe to serve on March 14th (otherwise known as Pi Day because the first three significant digits of π are 3, 1, and 4), we had the perfect excuse to ask co-owners Meg and Shaun Parrish for one of theirs. What they offered up is a recipe for their famous chocolate hazelnut spread pie filling along with directions for how to assemble their picture-perfect hand pies.

WIld Love Bakehouse hand pies

Meg Parrish, co-owner of Wild Love Bakehouse in Knoxville, is wearing our Draper James Hilltop Garden Shirt Dress. Her recipe (below) for hand pies with chocolate hazelnut spread is the perfect way to honor Pi Day, a celebration of mathematics that takes place on March 14th (3/14), because the first three significant digits of π are 3, 1, and 4.

Tell us about this recipe.
This recipe is one of our favorites in the bakery. Traditionally we serve hand pies at room temperature, but they are really good warmed up as well! Hand pies are great because you can mix and match fillings.

Your hand pies are obsession-worthy. What makes them so special?
We use an extra flakey all-butter crust and love to make our fillings from scratch. At the bakery we we have a great focus on which produce and ingredients are in season and what we can buy from our local farmers. We also love developing fun and unexpected flavor combinations to keep things interesting. One of our favorites this time of year is Rosemary Pear.

The Draper James Hilltop Garden Shirt Dress looks so great on you! What drew you to it?
I love dresses, especially floral prints. Dresses are great because you always look great and put-together without a lot of extra styling—which is lovely when you are on the go! This dress is darling. I love the lace collar and other thoughtful details.

Pi Day, PIE DAY, Pi(e) yay! What do you love about this “holiday”?
At the bakery we love holidays, official or not! It is an excuse to bake all sorts of fun items that we may not bake on a day-to-day basis.

What are you most looking forward to for spring?
We are looking forward to fresh strawberries! We always go strawberry picking as a group every spring. In addition to the excitement of new produce, we are recipe testing for some fun summer recipes.

Can you share three must-visit spots in Knoxville besides your bakery?
1. Market Square Farmers’ Market
2. The Smoky Mountains/Urban Wilderness
3. There are so many locally-owned restaurants we like to go to. Two newer places we have been frequenting are A Dopo and Kaizen.

WIld Love Bakehouse hand pies

Meg Parrish of Wild Love Bakehouse fills her hand pies with everything from fruit and jam to handmade chocolate hazelnut spread.


Recipe for Hand Pies with Chocolate Hazelnut Spread from Wild Love Bakehouse

We make our own chocolate hazelnut spread at the bakery, but you can use a store-bought brand like Nutella.

Ingredients for Hand Pies

  • Your favorite pie dough recipe (or store-bought will work just fine!)
  • 1¾ cup toasted hazelnuts, blanched (if you cannot find blanched, see note under toasting hazelnuts)
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • ¾ cup plus 2 Tablespoons powdered sugar
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1¼ cup canola oil

Ingredients for Vanilla Glaze

  • ¾ cup confectioners sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon cream or half-and-half
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions for Hand Pies

Toast the hazelnuts: spread hazelnuts out on a sheet pan. Toast at 350°F for 12-15 minutes until light golden brown. (Note: If you have hazelnuts with the skin intact, toast for the same amount of time until the skins just start to pull away from the nut. Once cool, place a couple of handfuls at a time into a clean dishtowel and rub together to remove skins.)

Make the spread: In the first of three small bowls, measure out the toasted hazelnuts. In the second small bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients, cocoa powder, powdered sugar, and kosher salt. In the third small bowl, combine the canola oil and vanilla extract.

Place hazelnuts and half of the canola oil and vanilla mixture into the food processor and process for 1 minute. Stop the food processor, scrape down the sides with a spatula, and break up any clumps of the hazelnuts. Process for an additional minute. Stop the food processor again, scrape down the sides. Turn the food processor back on and slowly add the remaining oil and vanilla mixture while the processor is running. This should take about 30 more seconds. The consistency should resemble almond butter—not chunky, but still grainy. If your chocolate hazelnut spread is still chunky or a little thick, continue to process for additional 30 seconds.

Assemble the hand pies:  Roll out your pie dough a little thinner than a quarter-inch. Use your biscuit or cookie cutter to cut out your desired shape of your hand pies. You will need two pieces for every hand pie. At the bakery, we use rectangles for optimum
filling capacity, but squares—or even octagons—work well. For a hand pie around 3″x3″, I would use about a hearty tablespoon of filling.

When spreading the filling in your hand pie, leave about a half-inch border without filling so you can crimp the edges with a fork on top of your chocolate hazelnut spread before putting the other side of your hand pie on.

After you have filled and placed the top of your hand pie on, you can crimp the edges with a fork around the border. This will keep them the two sides together. Trim up the edges with a knife and make a small “X” on top to vent.

Place hand pies in the refrigerator to chill for at least 15 minutes before baking. Bake hand pies at 375°F for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool slightly before eating as filling can be hot!

Variation: Prefer fruit and jam? Fill hand pies with your favorite jam and berries and glaze with vanilla glaze. Our favorite in the spring is strawberry jam and sliced strawberries.

Directions for Vanilla Glaze

Mix all ingredients with a fork until smooth. If the glaze seems a little thick, add just a smidge more cream to thin it out. (It should be a similar consistency to Elmer’s school glue!) Drizzle over hand pies with a fork!


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