These pies are tender, flaky and use an all-butter pastry. They’re filled with warm cinnamon spice apple butter, apple chunks, and dark intense salted caramel.
The best thing about them? They’re your own personal parcels of goodness that you don’t have to share.
I might be a bit late to the pie party, but I promise this will make up for the delay. It all starts with the October Challenge set by Handle The Heat . This month’s challenge is to use her recipe for flakiest pie crust in any form you can think of.
I’m usually a bit skeptic about these “ultimate” recipes, but this recipe is a true game changer. I’ve used it so far for a lemon curd pie, an apple pie, and now these mini babies. And I’m pretty sure this is the only all butter pie crust recipe I’m ever going to use. The only change I had to make is to adjust the amount of water added to the dough, since it turned into mush. So when I doubled the batch, I added 2 and 1/2 Tablespoons of water.
So let’s talk about these individual pies. Remember that apple butter I made for the previous post? Well, they make an appearance now too. The butter intensifies the flavor of the apple and just transcends it to a whole other level.
Now, why have normal apple pie when you can have it filled and drizzled with buttery caramel?
This gorgeous pie is filled with a homemade caramel sauce, thick and rich and full of the flavor of actual caramelized sugar. I used this recipe from Serious Eats , with one slight difference that has to do with the caramelization of the sugar. I let it turn a bit darker than usual before adding the cream since it adds to the flavor and gets that dark, smoky caramel taste that comes from cooking sugar until it’s a dark amber color. After that, I put it back on the heat to get a more spreadable than pouring consistency, since it’s important that it’s not too runny if you want to use it as a filling.
I really suggest you avoid using caramel candies in case you’re not going to eat the pies right after they come out of the oven since those tend to turn hard and chewy when cooled.
For the filling, I do recommend using a few different varieties of apples in apple pie—some will be tart, other sweeter, some will hold their shape nicely, while others will get soft and mushy. The variety of flavors and textures is what makes a stellar pie, in my opinion. I used a mix of Gala and Granny Smith apples.
So now that you have the caramel prepared (you can do that a couple of days before), make the pie crust and let it chill (ideally overnight). Once you have those two steps done, just make prepare the apple filling, bring out the jar of apple butter, assemble the pies, chill, brush with egg was and sprinkle Demerara sugar, and then bake.
These hand pies can be as rustic or refined as you desire. You can use a cookie cutter for neat and identical shapes. Or use a sharp knife or glass to cut out precise some not-so-precise circles, squares, triangles or any other shape you feel like.
It’s fall food and winter food and comfort food and sweet tooth food. And everyone will feel a little more special when presented with the individual dessert just for them.
Side note: You will have some leftover filling, stay tuned for the next post to see what I made with it.
Caramel Apple Hand Pies
Makes 6 mini pies (May vary depending on the size of your cookie cutter)
For the Caramel Sauce
I used this easy recipe from Serious Eats. You don’t even need to have a candy thermometer, just follow the timings mentioned.
For the Pie Crust
- 285 grams all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon fine salt
- 3 teaspoons sugar
- 225 grams cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
- 2 1/2 tablespoons ice cold water (may vary depending on your location)
- A pinch of cinnamon
For the Apple Filling
- 2 Apples, cored and diced.
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup apple butter. (Recipe Here)
- 1 egg + 1 tablespoon water for egg wash
- Demerara sugar, for sprinkling on pies
- Make the Caramel.
- Make the pie crust: In a medium bowl, combine the flour, salt, cinnamon and sugar. Add the butter, rubbing it into the flour with your fingers or using a pastry blender or two knives, leaving large chunks of butter remaining. Stir in the water one tablespoon at a time. I used a straight spatula to kind of cut the water into the flour mixture the dough starts to come together. If the dough holds together when pinched between your fingers, it’s good. If it doesn’t, drizzle just enough water until it does.
- Divide the dough into two, and shape them into a disks and chill in the fridge until firm and cold, at least 30 minutes or up to 3 days or make ahead.
- When ready to use, let the dough sit at room temperature for up to 10 minutes, or until slightly pliable. And preheat the oven to 200 Degrees C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat and set aside.
- Prepare the filling: In a medium bowl, combine apples, lemon juice, cinnamon, and sugar. Set aside.
- Assemble the pies: On a generously floured surface, roll the dough out into a large circle about 5 mm thickness. Use a round cutter to cut the dough into rounds. Re-roll the dough scraps and cut more circles. I got a total of 12 circles. Cut up some leaves out of the leftover scraps for cute decorations.
- Top half of the circles with one teaspoon apple butter, then around 1 tablespoon of apple mixture, and a small dollop of caramel on top. You want to make sure there isn’t too much liquid or the pies will get messy. There will be a bit of filling seeping out during baking. Brush the edges lightly with the egg wash and top with the other half of the dough circles and gently press to seal. Use the back of a fork to press a decorative edge around the dough circles. Cut small slits into the top of each pie.
- Lightly brush the tops of the pies with egg wash and sprinkle generously with demerara sugar. Bake until pies are slightly golden and filling is starting to bubble through, about 20-25 minutes. Remove pies from oven and let cool for 10 minutes before serving. Serve warm.
Note-the pies are ideally best eaten the day they are made, but can be stored at room temperature for a few days. Just reheat them in the microwave for a few seconds.
Bon Appetit 🙂