Would it really be Thanksgiving if there wasn't some apple pie for dessert? An apple dessert is a must-have for my family during Thanksgiving. Over the years, apple desserts have taken different forms on my family's Thanksgiving table. It's been in classic pies, crumbles, and cakes. Since Thanksgiving is toned down this year, I wanted to make a dessert that was individual but still had all the best flavors of Thanksgiving. That's where these individual apple hand pies came into play.
Apple Hand Pies
These apple hand pies might be a little untraditional for Thanksgiving, but they have everything that you want out of a traditional pie. They are stuffed with a gooey apple filling and have a crust that is super flakey and buttery. The pies are also topped with a little turbinado sugar for a little extra sweetness.
The best part of these apple hand pies? You get one all to yourself. The mini pies are the perfect size for an individual portion, meaning you don't have to share. If this isn't a perfect dessert for 2020 then I don't know what is.
Pies are not normally my go-to for desserts. I tend to take all of the ingredients of pie and turn them into crisps or crumble bars. However, Erin Jeanne McDowell's new cookbook, The Book on Pie, has made me a little pie obsessed. Her book has a pie for everyone in literally every shape, size, and flavor. She also goes into detail about making crusts, shaping them, and nailing that perfect filling. If you are looking to learn more about pies I would definitely recommend that you check out her book.
Erin's book led me to the hand pies. She makes them with a grape filling, but I was looking for more of a traditional feel, hence the apples. For the hand pies, I used Erin's basic pie dough. It was super simple to make and is full of butter to create a flakey crust. The crust has to rest for a bit in the refrigerator, but the overall process isn't very long.
For the filling, I went with a variation of Erin's apple pie filling, with a twist from some of my favorite additions throughout the years. The filling might be one of my most favorite things I've baked this year. I used three different types of apples, brown sugar, and a bunch of spices to get that thick apple pie filling. It was truly mouthwatering.
These little hand pies could really be made with anything. Think pumpkin filling, cherry, even chocolate and marshmallows for a s'mores twist. The pie dough is the perfect vehicle for pretty much any flavor combo.
Check out the recipe for the mini individual apple hand pies below. Let me know if you decided to switch up the filling! Happy Thanksgiving!
Apple Hand Pies
- 1 and ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 8 tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
- ¼ cup ice water
Apple Pie Filling
- 3 apples roughly cut
- 3 tablespoon butter
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- turbinado sugar for sprinkling on top
- 1 egg plus some water for an egg wash
- In a large bowl combine the flour and salt. Mix to combine.
- Cut the butter into small cubes. Try to cut the pieces fast because you want to keep everything as cold as possible. If they start to get soft during the process, stick them back in the refrigartor for a few minutes.
- Add the cubed butter to the flour, tossing each piece so it is fully covered in the flour mixture. Once the pieces are covered, use your fingers or a pastry cutter to cut the butter into the flour. You want the flour to look like long flat long pieces, similar to "walnut halves."
- Next, make a well in the middle of the bowl. Pour the ice water into the middle of the well and start to slowly incorporate the flour. Make sure it is fully distributed. You want the flour to be damp and not wet. If you need more water, add in 1 tablespoon at a time. If the dough starts to get sticky, you've added in too much water. When ready the dough should start to stick together.
- When the dough starts to come together, start to form the dough into a ball. You can lightly knead it to help it come together. Try and do this quickly, as you are trying to keep the butter cold. The dough should come together, but still have butter pieces visible.
- Form the dough into a flat disc. Wrap completely in plastic wrap and refrigerate for a half hour.
- While the dough is resting, preheat the oven to 400 degrees and prepare two sheet pan with parchment.
- Next, make the apple pie filling. In a saucepan, add the roughly chopped apples, butter, brown sugar, lemon juice, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt. Mix everything together until the butter has melted. Let the mixture cook until the apples are tender, about 25-30 minutes.
- When the apples are tender, add in the remaining sugar and flour. This will quickly thicken up the mixture. Mix until combined. Take the apple mixture off the heat.
- Time for the dough. When the half-hour is up, roll out the dough. Sprinkle flour on a clean work surface and roll out the dough until it is about ¼ inch thick. Using a cookie cutter or a knife, cut out equal squares and circles. Place the cutout pieces on a sheet pan and place back in the refrigerator to chill for a few more minutes.
- When the apple mixture is cool, fill the pies. Take equally cut pieces and fill the bottom half with the apple filling, about 1 tablespoon. Repeat with the remaining dough.
- Place the top pieces of the pies on top of the filling, making sure everything is fully covered. Then take a fork and crimp the edges together. It's okay if some of the filling falls out. When the two pieces are together, use a knife to cut two small slits in the top piece. This will allow for steam to come out when cooking. If the dough starts to look warm, place it back in the refrigerator to chill for a few more minutes.
- Scramble the egg and add a splash of water. Brush the hand pies with the egg wash and sprinkle with the turbinado sugar.
- Place in the oven on a middle rack (Don't put them on the bottom, they will burn). Bake the hand pies for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the pie dough starts to turn a golden brown. Let cool completely before eating.
- Serve the hand pies warm or at room temperature. Store in an air-tight container. They should last 3-5 days.
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