Apple Hand Pies

At this point it must be pretty clear that I love to bake. I'm not sure what gave it away, but somewhere along the line I let the secret slip out. What this means for me is that I am frequently sent recipes by colleagues, friends, and fam in the hopes that I will break down and make it. Well, often they are right. Of course, lots of work means less time in the kitchen than I used to have, so finding a balance is something I'm working on. The kitchen is my happy place, and this gets me in there.

As fate would have it, it happened to be a colleague's birthday week when she sent this one over (*hint, hint*). As she is working hard on maintaining a lean diet, we didn't want to blast her with the usual chocolate on chocolate on chocolate (yes I am serious) cake that we typically get, so I suggested this as an alternative. Yes, apple pie is still a dessert. But I am going to make an educated guess and say that apple pie is likely a smidge healthier due to the fruit content. And there's no way these have as much sugar as that cake! Listen, no need to correct me if I am wrong. I want to remain blissfully ignorant here.

At any rate, the decision was made: Apple Hand Pies were on the agenda.



Granny Smith apples are a flavorful one. I generally grab Fuji apples (or whatever is on sale, to be honest) but as the recipe she suggested featured these I picked up several. They have a more sour flavor to them, but not overly so. After snacking on a few apple pieces while I was chopping these up and then eating another kind of apple the next day, I was finally sold on the idea that not all apples are created equal. Some are actually bland. Apple #2 was like chewing on water after eating one of these.

I washed the apples thoroughly before beginning the Chopping Mall experience. If you haven't seen that gem of an 80's film, I am sorry for you. I used the recipe she sent for the cinnamon whiskey apple pies, making a handful of changes along the way. I do things my way.


I peeled and chopped the apples into bite size pieces, since they were going into small sized pies. I would toss slices in a pie since baking them softens them anyway, but for maximum apple quantity, I had to downsize. I put them in a large pot as I chopped and squeezed in some lemon juice to prevent browning.


The white and brown sugars, honey, coconut oil, butter, applesauce, cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg and salt were added and I began simmering the mixture on medium heat. I chose coconut oil as an alternative to some of the butter because (a) I love it and (b) I wanted to see how the flavor came out.. As it cooked, the apples softened and shrunk in size.


After several minutes, I mixed in some cinnamon whiskey. I am personally not a fan of this stuff - if I am going to drink whiskey, gimme the Jack. But for baking purposes, I bought a tolerable sized bottle (even the cashier at the liquor store stated that it was a good thing I was buying only a small portion). Now, the recipe I was sent for these had 2 tablespoons of the stuff. For the amount of apples I had in the freezer, that was such a low total! I used about 3/4 of the small bottle.


I cooked the mixture a few more minutes, then added some flour dissolved in water to thicken it. I always dissolve the flour because you run the risk of flour chunks not dissolving into your sauce if you do not. I didn't find the filling thick enough after letting the flour sit for a few moments, so I added some potato starch as well. Potato starch is a good choice for a thickener because it doesn't alter the flavor. In repeating this recipe, I would likely just go with potato starch from the get-go.


And now for the pie part. In the interest of time, I picked up 2 boxes of pre-made pie crusts, giving me 4 pie sheets total. I rolled them slightly thinner and used my biscuit cutter to cut circles out.


I got a good amount out of each piece, because I rolled the excess out and cut more circles, making use of all the dough I could.


At that point, I spooned some filling on one of the rounds. Here is where you can use a pie/ravioli mold if you have one.


I laid a second round on top of the filling and began sealing the edges.


Sealing the hand pie was just a matter of pressing the edges together with my fingers. This worked out well, but you have to make sure the edge is firmly pressed and the dough doesn't appear to be just stacked together, but instead actually meshed. You can always spread some water around the edge to help it seal if that is easier.


Before baking, I brushed on some egg wash so that the crust would get that browned color. For an added bit of texture and sweetness, I sprinkled on some sugar, too. I suggest poking the top/side of each with a fork to vent it and prevent bursting.

I would like to note that this filling recipe makes a LOT. And by a lot, I mean that after using 4 pie crusts I still had at least 1/3 of the amount left (which I froze for a later day). I would suggest cutting this one in half, which should a matter of literally halving everything. That or stock up in extra crusts.


25 minutes later, I had apple goodness. Aren't they cute?


More whiskey! Is that ever a bad request? These little pies were handy (seriously, no cutting/falling apart of a large pie was awesome). But the cinnamon flavor? It was not nearly as potent as expected, even with the addition of extra ground cinnamon. That is not to say the flavor was bad or even bland, but I don't feel they really require the cinnamon whiskey title because that's not how I will remember them. I will however remember delightful little sweet apple pies. I couldn't help but think of those little McDonald's mini pies when I saw these fresh out of the oven.

The filling remained thick enough to not burst or drain out during baking, so I am glad I added the extra starch. If the filling is so thin that it looks like a chunky soup, I would add the extra starch to be safe.

I wound up with about 20 pies. One had to be sampled to ensure it was not toxic (it's a tough job but somebody's gotta do it) and the remaining majority went to work with me.  I am sold on the mini pie concept for sure. Yes, it's a bit more work, but the ability to give out personal services in an easy way is priceless.

I am happy to report the pies were well received at the office, fueling my cooking obsession even more. Nothing makes a baker happier than positive feedback, because of course, not every recipe can get an Apple Hand Pie result! Of course, now I need to find a creative use for that extra filling...

Apple Hand Pies Recipe

Ingredients:

5-6 Granny Smith apples, peeled and cubed
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons coconut oil
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup of white sugar, plus extra to sprinkle on top of pies
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup applesauce
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cinnamon whiskey
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons potato starch
2 boxes of pie crust (2 rolls per box)
1 egg

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Peel and dice apples, then place in a large saucepan. Add lemon juice to diced apples as you are cutting up apples and toss to coat. Add sugars, honey, coconut oil, butter, applesauce, cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg and salt to the pot and stir. Heat to medium, then cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add cinnamon whiskey and continue cooking 1-2 minutes. Mix flour with water and stir in to mixture to thicken. Cook for 1-2 more minutes. If mixture is not thick enough, mix potato starch with water and add. Roll out pie crust and use a rolling pin to spread slightly (roughly 1/2-1 inch on all sides). Use a biscuit cutter to cut circles. In the center of each pie dough circle, add filling, leaving about 1 inch on all sides to seal pie. Add a second circle on top of filling and press on all sides to seal. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 25 minutes on a parchment lined baking sheet.

adapted from fireball whiskey apple pies

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