Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Mini-Apple and Pecan Pies

Cook's notes: When all you need is a bite of something sweet mini-pies have their merits. No forks are needed and allows for a greater range of choice with crumble pies, lattice pies, and single crust pies all at once, each with different kinds of fruit inside.There's something for everybody.
Cooking tips
  • Butter or use cooking spray and generously grease your muffin tin.
  • As with full-sized pies, keep your dough cold so that you can work with it more easily, and be sure to flour your surface well so that you'll be able to easily remove your circles of dough once they've been cut. Roll your dough to an even thickness of about 1/8th of an inch. To make a dozen mini pies, you'll need both pie crusts in the box or a double recipe of regular homemade pie crust.
  • Use the lid of a takeout container to create a perfectly sized shell: If you have a large circular biscuit cutter, you can use it to cut out circles of dough, but the lid of a standard takeout container and a pizza slicer work just as well. Transfer your circles of dough to the muffin tin and chill for at least 30 minutes before using them.

  • Because mini-pies are so tiny, you'll need to slice your fruit into smaller pieces so that it will fit more easily into the mini shells and will cook more quickly. 
  • Baking: Mini pies take far less time to bake than standard pies. Bake them in a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes, then rotate and bake for another 3-5 minutes, removing when they are well browned.
Mini Apple Pies
  • 1 package of refrigerated piecrust dough (14.5 oz. 2 pie crusts)I used Pillsbury because it earned high online reviews next to Trader Joes or use your own homemade recipe.  
  • 3 cups Granny Smith or baking apples, washed, cored and chopped into pieces the size of dimes
  • 2 TB. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. Saigon cinnamon or 2 tsp. regular cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp.nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp. allspice
  • 1- 1/2 TB. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. freshly grated lemon zest
  • Use cooking spray and grease generously a 12 standard muffin tin. 
  • Roll out pie crust and use a large glass to cut out 12 circles. Press each dough circle into muffin tin wells. Chill for 30 minutes while you make your filling.
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prep the apples, sprinkle the lemon juice over the slices to prevent browning. Mix the flour, sugar and spices together and add to the apple slices. Then add the lemon zest and mix. Let mixture set 10 minutes. 
  • Use a slotted spoon and add the apple mixture to each muffin tin. Use dough scraps to create four strips of lattice. Lay 2 horizontally over each mini pie, and 2 strips vertically. Trim the over hang of the lattice strips, then push the ends of the lattice into the edge of the shells.
  • Brush all exposed crust with milk or egg wash. Sprinkle with a cinnamon sugar mixture. If the pastry has gotten a bit warm, place directly into the freezer for 5-10 minutes.
  • Bake pies for 15 minutes, then rotate and bake for 3 minutes more removing when they are  well browned. Total time about 18 minutes.
  • After removing the mini-pies from the oven, allow them to cool in the pan for 5 minutes before removing.
Alternative: Apple Streusel Topping
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup quick cooking oats
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 4 TB. butter
  • 1 tsp. Saigon cinnamon or 2 tsp. regular cinnamon
  • Pulse ingredients in a food processor. Sprinkle over chopped apple mixture. 

Pecan Filling 
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup light or dark corn syrup
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 TB. butter, melted
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup chopped pecans + 12 pecan halves
  • ½ cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips
  • Combine brown sugar, corn syrup, egg, and butter in a large mixing bowl and beat until well combined.
  • Mix in salt and vanilla. Stir in chopped pecans and chocolate chips.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray muffin tin with cooking spray.
  • Remove crust from refrigerator. Place pie crust on a floured surface. Cut out 12 circles and press crusts into muffin tin working crust up the side of each well.
  • Divide filling mixture evenly among the twelve pies. Optional topping each with a pecan half.
  • Bake for 18 minutes or until crusts are golden brown and filling is set.
  • Let cool for at least 5 minutes before removing from pan. Slide a knife down the outside of a pie and lift gently to remove.

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