Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Mini Apple Pies Are Here to Save Your Thanksgiving

Is there anything worse than having to feign idle chit chat with relatives you're not even sure how you're related to over Thanksgiving dinner? Yeah, to me, that is a pure form of torture. While my go-to move is usually the post-turkey Tryptophan nap in the recliner (use it- no one will blame you), I'm here to help rescue you by bringing you a simple recipe for mini pies. Great Aunt Judy or third cousin Doug (twice removed) interrupting your football viewing with inane questions like, "Who are you again?" or "What do you do for a living?" ...simply pop one of the mini pies in your mouth and you've taken an automatic timeout to any and all conversations. Dessert game goes hard on Thanksgiving, so no one will come between a person and their pie. You're welcome.
You've saved me time and time again, pie.
I suppose you could go the extremely simple route and just make the pies using canned apple or cherry pie filling and premade crust, but I feel like when making an apple pie, you're really only going to get the best pie if you make it from fresh apples. The one exception to this rule is a McDonald's apple pie because those are sprinkled with crack.
Any kind of apple will do ya, but Granny Smith owns my taste buds.
It should come as literally no surprise that you're going to need apples (and butter) for this recipe. Since I'm baking for one while Derek is gone, I only wanted to have a few of these mini pies on hand and not an entire bushel. Three apples will make enough filling for ten mini pies, so it would be extremely easy to double the recipe and make 20 for your turkey day. Here is how the recipe breaks down:
  • Three apples of your choice
  • One box of Pilsbury pie crust (comes with two premade crusts)
  • Three tablespoons of flour
  • Six tablespoons of sugar (this is 1/4 cup plus two TBS)
  • Teaspoon of cinnamon
  • A few tablespoons of butter
  • Optional: Mini cookie cutters in the shapes of leaves to top your pies
This part makes your kitchen smell AH-mazing.
Start by peeling your apples and then chop them into smaller than bite-sized pieces. Congratulate yourself if you can do this without accidentally skinning a knuckle or two. I know my way around a potato peeler, but what usually happens to me is I somehow manage to get a fingernail caught in there and da svidaniya, fingernail! Fortunately, this did not happen to me this time as I was alone and without adult supervision when making my mini pies. I don't care how old I am, I am constantly in need of an adult. You can ask my best friend, Manders...our relationship is forged from the fact that neither of us can properly function without some form of guidance from the other.
The makings of your Thanksgiving miracle.
Dump your apples into a bowl with the flour, sugar, and cinnamon. Mix together until the apples are all nicely coated. Now, onto the crust! You're going to need to let the crust sit out for at least 15 minutes to thaw out from being in the fridge. Then unroll it, and start looking for circular objects to help you cut your crusts.
Keeping it really classy.
I found you want a crust that is about 3 1/2 to 4 inches in diameter, so true to my OCD, I busted out my mini measuring tape and dug through my kitchen cabinets until I found a small bowl and that fantastically snazzy pink cup. The bowl was too large, but this was just right...proving that sometimes the second time is a charm- eat it, Goldilocks. I am queen of efficiency!
Up for a round of mini Frisbee, anyone?
From one crust, you can yield ten of these little bad boys. I had to reroll the dough and flatten it out once to get the last two...waste not, want not, people. Grease your muffin tin and start preheating the oven to 425. You'll have to mold these into a bit of a bowl shape and then press them gently into your muffin tin. The edges should come up just to the top of the tin.
This was before I made the extra two pies with the leftover filling and crust.
I SWEAR I did not eat two of these raw.
Take a spoon, and fill each of your pie crusts up so the filling is slightly less than brimming from the edges. I found two scoops per pie worked out perfectly. Then dot each pie with butter. You could simply cover the mini pies with the other roll of crust and slit the tops to vent, but that is so not this kind of blog. I bet if you do it that way, you're probably using the canned pie filling, too, you lazy glutton. I made half of my pies with lattice tops, so let me show you how to do that in an installment of shitty photos because the lighting in my kitchen is SHAMEFUL. I've got a bulb out, and for the life of me I cannot ever remember to change it...I really need an adult. A tall one.
I realize this looks like shredded mozzarella, but it will make sense in a minute. Start by layering three strips of pie crust on top of your pie. These can be thin or thick depending on your style preference.
Then, take your middle strip and fold it back. Place another strip of pie crust down the middle, then fold the middle strip back over on top.
Now it looks like string cheese! Take and fold back the top and bottom strips. Then lay down another thin strip of cheese crust on the left-hand side of the pie. Fold the top and bottom strips back over this portion.
Take the top and bottom strip again, and this time fold back the other sides of the crust. Put a strip of crust down on the right-hand side of the pie, and fold the top and bottom pieces back over this portion.
At this point, you can just smoosh the edges of the lattice onto the edge of the bottom pie crust. Walla!
I had to do a practice pie, and hated the way it looked, so I scrapped it and made the strips thin like they are above. I gotta be able to see that gorgeous apple, baby. For the rest of my pies, I took my mini cookie cutters from Hank's pumpkin treats and cut out leaves. Prepare yourself for another craptacular photo tutorial in 3, 2, 1...
I pressed down my trusty pink cup on the dough so I could see how many leaves would nicely fit on a pie. Turns out the third time is the charm in this instance. Tie game for me and Goldilocks.
I then used a toothpick to etch veins into my leaves.
And topped my remaining pies with the leaves in a nice, slightly overlapping cluster.
 You're good to bake at this point, but I wanted to take the pies up a notch and add an egg wash to nicely tan my top crust and to give me a glue to adhere more cinnamon and sugar to the top of my pies.
Mix one egg and a tablespoon of milk together, and some sugar and cinnamon in a separate bowl.
Brush the pies with the egg wash, then sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Pop them in the oven for 20-22 minutes until a nice golden-brown and your house smells like the thing dreams are made of.
Droooollliiinnnnngggg....but not in the pies. Just near them.
Once cooked, give these little pieces of pure happiness plenty of time to cool. If you're overzealous and try to remove them from the tin before totally cool, they will completely fall apart on you, and there goes your excuse to get out of talking to people on Thanksgiving. I'm just trying to help you live up to your full antisocial potential. I waited a full hour until my pan was completely cool, and then used a knife to remove them after tracing around the outside edge of each pie to ensure it wasn't stuck to the pan. These are spectacular on their own, but I recommend heating them up in the microwave for 30 seconds before eating, and topping with Bluebell's homemade vanilla, as it is the best vanilla, and if you live somewhere that doesn't have Bluebell, you've got way bigger problems than trying to up your dessert game on turkey day.
Yeah, this was my dinner yesterday. See why I need an adult?
I've taken to calling them ice cream apple boats in this form, and the name sticks. They are simply decadent a la mode, and will also take you longer to savor this way which means less talky, more eaty for you. Now that I've supplied you with two really awesome apple-based desserts for Thanksgiving, use the power wisely! If there's never enough booze to get you through the holiday, go for the hard cider cupcakes. If its your talking game you want to avoid, go for these bite-sized pies. In either case, your taste buds will be quite pleased with you. So reward yourself after a hard day of marathon eating and take a nap, you crazy, food-obsessed American. God speed! 'Til next time, my fellow eaters!

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