Make These Berry Cheesecake Twists Out of Leftover Pie Crust



It’s mid-winter, but I’m still excavating some of the frozen treasures from my freezer after a whirlwind holiday season. Besides turkey bones and lumps of cookie dough (which I’m enjoying every evening), I also found a stray roll of pie crust. It has no box, so I don’t know if it’s vegan, gluten-free or what, but it’s definitely pie dough—and pie dough is always flaky and delicious. If you have a spare crust and you’re not interested in making a whole pie, use your leftovers to make these berry cheesecake twists.

Pie crust is extremely tender and flavorful all on its own, and I’ve broken my fair share of plain crust off the edge of whole pies. (This is called snacking crust.) Pie crust is primarily flour and salt studded with plenty of fat. When it’s rolled out and baked, the fat melts and the water evaporates; this creates little pockets of air. The results are buttery and tender, and a perfect vehicle for flavor—and you don’t have to add much flavor to make a good thing even better. 

Berry Cheesecake pinwheels or twists

For an easy snack that mimics the tangy flavors of a berry-topped cheesecake, I layered a bit of blackberry jam and sweetened cream cheese into the pie crust and shaped it into cookie-esque creations. You can get creative with how you make your cheesecake twists, but these are the shapes I made.

Pinwheels

1. Layer the fillings

In a small bowl, warm two ounces of cream cheese in the microwave for 10 to 15 seconds. Add a tablespoon of powdered sugar and stir until smooth. Unroll the thawed pie crust on a cutting board that will fit in the fridge or freezer. Spread the cream cheese over the entire surface. Pop the cutting board into the freezer for a few minutes to set the cream cheese. Spread about two tablespoons of jam on top of the cheese layer. Make sure the jam layer is very thin. It’ll squish out the edges if it isn’t. 

2. Shape the dough

Pie crust rolled up with jam in the center

Credit: Allie Chanthorn Reinmann

Ready-made pie crust is usually already circular so I cut the circle in half. This keeps the pinwheels from getting too bulky in the center. Starting on the rounded side, begin rolling the crust up all the way to the cut-edge. Do the same with the other half moon of dough. Put the cutting board back in the freezer for about 10 minutes to firm up.

3. Bake the pinwheels

Pastry pinwheels and twists on a sheet tray.

Credit: Allie Chanthorn Reinmann

Take the pie crust logs out and cut half-inch segments. I like to use the floss method to keep the swirl shape intact. Lay the swirls, jammier-side up, on a parchment lined baking sheet. Optionally, you can egg wash them on the edges and sprinkle some sugar on them too. Bake them at 375°F for about 12 minutes, or until lightly browned and the jam is bubbling.

Twists

1. Prepare the dough

Prepare the dough the same way as in Step 1 above. For Step 2, fold the dough in half, as if you were making a quesadilla. Cut this half moon in half, so you have two quarters of a circle. Put the cutting board back in the freezer to firm up for another 10 minutes.

2. Shape the dough

Small wedges of pie crust that have been filled with jam and cream cheese.

Credit: Allie Chanthorn Reinmann

Cut each quarter into six small wedges. It’s okay if some of the jam squeaks out. I like to use egg wash here, before twisting. Egg wash one side of the triangles and sprinkle them generously with sugar. Then space them out on a parchment lined baking sheet and, holding the wide end down, twist the triangles once or twice. Do this with all of the triangles.

Close up of pastry twists.

Credit: Allie Chanthorn Reinmann

3. Bake the twists

Bake them at 375°F for about 12 minutes, or until browned and the jam is bubbling. The very tips of the twists will become dark brown and crispy, mostly because of the sugars caramelizing. Although that doesn’t bother me (actually, it’s my favorite part), you can tuck under the tips before baking if you don’t want that to happen.

Cool the little pie crust cookies on a wire cooling rack for at least five minutes to let the sugars cool and harden. Enjoy these tangy, fruity swirls for breakfast or for a quick coffee break while you admire your newly acquired freezer space.

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