Mini Apple Pies

Autumn is the perfect time of year for outdoor activities.  The oppressive heat of summer has subsided, but the frigid winds of winter have not yet arrived.  And what better excuse to show off all those cute sweaters and boots that have been hiding in the back of our closets for months!  In the spirit of fall and fun outdoor activities, Small One and her roommates recently took a journey outside the city to pick bushels and bushels of apples!  After a fantastic day in the orchard, she returned home to let the real fun begin… in the kitchen!!  The perfect apple cuisine?  Apple Pie!  The cutest apple cuisine?  Mini apple pies!  Don’t be intimidated by homemade crust – this recipe is super simple and we’ll even give you a family secret  to help you along 😉

Makes 24 mini pies!

INGREDIENTS:
For the crust:
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
2 Tbs sugar
1 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1/4 cup water, refrigerated until cold
For the filling:
5 apples (we used different kinds and sizes!)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp lemon zest
1 Tbs melted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
juice of half a lemon
For the topping:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
2 tbs cold butter, cubbed
1/4 tsp nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a stand mixer or bowl with hand mixer, combine flour, salt and sugar. Add the cold butter and mix until the mixture resembles coarse meal (think chicken feed, people – we were down on the farm). Slowly add cold water, mix for about 30 seconds, just until the dough comes together. Cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.  Note: if your butter and water aren’t cold, your dough won’t come together nicely.

Slice apple and cut into small 1/2 inch chunks.  Mix remaining filling ingredients together in a large bowl with the apple pieces.

Mix all topping ingredients in a small bowl.

Remove dough from refrigerator and let soften at room temperature for about 10 minutes.  Between two sheets of parchment paper or 2 bags from inside cereal boxes (Small One’s gramma’s little secret to perfect crust!), roll the dough about 1/8 inch thick. 

Butter the cups of a muffin tin.  Using a pint glass, cookie cutter, or a similar sized round object, cut out mini pie crusts.  Gently press the individual crusts into the muffin tins.  You want the edge of your crusts to extend above the top of the tin, for easy removal once baked.  Fill each crust with apple filling.  Notes: our miffin tins were shallow, so the pint glass worked perfectly.  If your muffin tins are deeper, be sure to use a larger crust cutter!

Bake for 30 minutes.  Put about 1 Tbs topping on each pie, and place in the oven for another 15 minutes.  You will know the pies are done when the crust is golden brown and the topping has caramelized.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Remove pies from tins with a fork while still very warm! This may seem counterintuitive, but otherwise the crust will stick to the tin and crumble!

Top with whipped cream or ice cream and enjoy!

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