Mini Caramel Apple Pies
These sweet and tart hand-held apple pies take me back, way back, to my childhood.
They say smell is the closest link to memory. A smell can take you back in time, hopefully to a happy place, in an instant, as if you never left. Sometimes the memory is so clear it takes your breath away. I smell baked apples, cinnamon, and sugar, and suddenly I'm 4 ft tall, staring up over the kitchen counter, flour dusted on my nose, watching my mom make homemade apple pie. I remember the warmth of the oven, the rolling pin moving across the dough, and my mom looking down at me, smiling, knowing I had just snuck a few sliced apples from the cutting board.
My grandma grew up on a farm and made everything from scratch. She taught my mother to do the same, and my mother taught me.
When my mom would make pies, usually around Thanksgiving and Christmas, she always made extra dough and filling for us to make mini apple pies. She knew we couldn't bare to spend the morning making pies, then having to wait till after dinner to gobble them up. Too much to ask of her sugar-loving children. To reward us for our hard work (a.k.a. watching and drooling and spilling cinnamon all over the floor), she'd take leftover scraps of dough and filling, sprinkle them with sugar, and bake them till they were perfectly golden brown. We'd eat them fresh out of the oven, no cooling time, so excited, we'd burn our tongues. They were the best.
Baking pies, now, with my boys, I do the same, making a little extra, just for them. And they respond just as I did when I was a little girl, happy and excited, and hopefully creating a memory.
These apple mini pies have a drizzle of caramel sauce. I love the flavor combination of rich caramel and tart apples, and so do my boys. I used a biscuit cutter to make the round shapes and small cookie cutters for the top layer cut-outs. If you don't have cookie cutters, you can use a cup, or just cut slits in the top layer of dough to vent. They'll be rustic and delicious.
Mini Caramel Apple Pies
* Makes about 10 mini pies
- 1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1/4 cup frozen vegetable shortening, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 3 tablespoons (or more) ice water
- 1/2 teaspoon vinegar
- Mix flour, salt, and sugar in large bowl. Add butter and shortening. With your fingertips, rub till mixture resembles crumbs.
- Mix 3 tablespoons ice water and vinegar in small bowl to blend. Drizzle over flour mixture. Stir with fork until moist clumps form. Add more water by teaspoonfuls if dough seems dry. Gather dough into ball and flatten into disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes while you make the filling.
- 2 cups Granny Smith apples, peeled and finely diced
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar (plus extra for sprinkling)
- 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup store bought caramel sauce (add more if you like)
- Heavy cream for brushing
- In a large bowl, mix the diced apples, cinnamon, sugar, and flour. Set aside.
- Preheat your oven to 425ºF and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator and, on a well-floured surface, roll it out to a 1/4" thick.
- Using a 3-inch circular cookie or biscuit cutter, begin cutting circles. Re-roll the scraps and continue cutting out circles till you run out of dough. You want an even number, for a top and bottom layer.
- On half of the dough circles, using a small cookie cutter or a pairing knife, make a cut out in the center to vent. These will be the top layer.
- Place the other half of the dough circles on a prepared cookie sheet, these will be the bottom layer. Spoon a small portion of the apple filling into the center of each circle, leaving 3/4" border. Top the apple filling with a drizzle of caramel sauce.
- Place a top layer dough circle on each filled circle, then use a fork to crimp the edges together, sealing each pie.
- Brush each pie with heavy cream and sprinkle with granulated sugar.
- Bake the pies for about 15 minutes, or until they're golden brown. Allow them to cool for 10 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.