You can’t go wrong with apple pie for any occasion and this is especially true when it comes to miniature pies. Mini pies give you the option of having a whole pie (that you can actually eat in one sitting!) all to yourself, and a stockpile of other little pies that you can either share or pop into the freezer for later.
These Individual Cranberry Apple Pies are apple pies with a sweet-tart cranberry twist to them. The apple pie filling is basically the same one that I use when making regular mini apple pies, but when I put the filling into the pies, I also add a generous scoop of whole berry cranberry sauce. I find that the cranberry sauce not only has a wonderfully bright flavor that works well with the lightly spiced apples, but that the consistency of the sauce is a lot like pie filling to begin with and so it incorporates into the pies very well. I tend not to use apples that are too tart when making this combination (skipping granny smiths in favor of something milder) because I don’t want the filling for my pies to be too tart and I want there to be a clear difference between the apple and the cranberries.
I always use homemade cranberry sauce when making this recipe, but there are good store bought brands out there that will also work perfectly well in this recipe (and save some time over making your own sauce). Just be sure to choose a whole-berry sauce and not a cranberry jelly, which will not really incorporate well into the pie filling. Choosing a cranberry sauce that has other elements in it – such as orange zest, cinnamon or other spices – will just make the pie that much more interesting.
These pies can be baked in miniature pie pans, individual muffin pans or prepared in a countertop pie maker, such as my mini pie maker from Breville (which I used to make the pies pictured here). They can be served hot or at room temperature. Leftover pies can be cooled, frozen and reheated in the oven or in a pie maker to crisp them up for later snacking. However you serve your pies, don’t forget to top them off with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream, which is the perfect finish to this pie filling.
Mini Apple Pies
1 recipe All Butter Pie Crust Dough, below
2 tbsp butter
2 large apples, peeled and diced
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup whole berry cranberry sauce (I use homemade)
In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Add in apples and saute for 4-5 minutes, until they just start to soften.
In a medium bowl, whisk together cinnamon, allspice brown sugar, cornstarch and salt. Add to apples and stir to coat. Cook until sugar is bubbling, apples are very tender and the mixture starts to thicken, 5-8 minutes. Remove from heat. Set aside to cool to room temperature
Preheat oven to 400F.
(At this point, you can preheat a mini pie maker if you have one and make dough rounds that fit that. The instructions below are for a conventional preparation.)
Roll out half of the pie crust dough on a lightly floured surface until they are about 1/8-inch thick. Cut dough into 6 rounds about 1-inch larger than the size of the muffin tin (or mini pie pan) that you will be using. Press dough into pan and up the sides.
Roll out remaining half of the pie crust dough on a lightly floured surface. Cut smaller rounds into remaining dough to form the tops of the pies.
Spoon about 1/2 cup of cooled apple mixture and about 2 1/2 tbsp whole berry cranberry sauce into each prepared pie crust. Some liquid may have been released from the apples, so evenly distribute this as well. Top pies with a second round of dough and crimp the edges with a fork to seal.
Bake for 16-20 minutes, until pastry is golden brown. Allow pies to cool in pan for 10 minutes, then gently loosen and transfer to a wire rack to cool before serving.
Makes 6 mini pies
All Butter Pie Crust Dough
This recipe makes about 1 1/2 standard pie crusts, an amount intended for making mini pies. If you need crust for a full sized double crust pie, try this scaled-up recipe.
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
3/4 cup butter, cut into 1 inch cubes and chilled
5-7 tbsp ice water
Whisk together flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Toss butter in the flour mixture, then rub in with your finger tips until mixture is coarse and no chunks larger than a large pea remain. Add in water gradually and stir with a fork until dough starts to come together, then press dough into a ball with the palms of your hands. If dough is dry, add an additional tablespoon or two of water to pull the dough together.
Divide dough into two balls and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least one hour before using.