Monday, March 21, 2011

Mini Apple Pies With Cheddar Crusts

So, I spent close to two hours yesterday trying something new...and I am not sure if I will ever do it again - so much effort!!

I found an intriguing recipe for these cheddar apple pies that I wanted to make about a week ago. I actually don't really like apple pie at all...I'm not really a pie girl. It was the cheese that got me. SO, I halved the recipe and tried it out.

Right off the bat...a warning. This is TIME CONSUMING. You really need to not have anything else to do, or really LOVE baking pies.

Also, if you don't have a food processor, this recipe is tough. I have a magic bullet, but it was too small for even half the recipe. So, I used my Kitchen Aid blender, which is awesome, but wasn't the best tool for this project. It worked - just took longer.

Lastly, be sure to totally seal the top and bottom layers of crust together... somehow I must not have done the best job and when I went to pop them out of the cupcake tin, out of the 8 I made, 5 of them separated. So my husband will be eating apple pie mush :-) Luckily, he doesn't mind.

The only change I made to the recipe was only using Granny Smith apples since those are my favorite and I figured I would like the pie more with the only kind of apple I even eat. I originally found the recipe through my Facebook - it was one of the Betty Crocker notifications since I "like" that company. Here is the link they included...

They came out pretty well, my husband really liked them. I tasted them, and while I know they are good, I think baked apples just really aren't my thing. Oh well. At least I have other people who will eat them!

And now, the recipe.

Crust Ingredients:

4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
10 ounces extra-sharp cheddar, grated
3/4 cup cold lard (non-hydrogenated if available)*
3/4 cup cold butter, chopped
6-8 tablespoons cold water
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water for egg wash
1/4 cup white sugar mixed with 1 teaspoon cinnamon for sprinkling

*you can substitute vegetable shortening here if you wish, but lard was recommended. I used vegetable shortening personally.

Filling Ingredients:

1/4 cup sugar
1/8 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
pinch salt
4 cups mixed apples, peeled and chopped (4 medium -- Gala, Fuji, Granny Smith, and Golden Delicious)
1 tablespoon butter


Pulse flour and salt together to combine. Add scoops of lard/shortening and pulse into the mixture has the texture of coarse sand, about 10 seconds.

Add in chunks of butter and cheese and pulse until butter pieces are no larger than small peas, about 10 pulses.

Add minimum amount of water and pulse on low. If dough remains crumbly and doesn’t come together, add another 2 tablespoons of water. Add as little as is required to enable the dough to be rolled into a ball.

Form the dough into 2 disks, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes while preparing your filling.

Prepare filling: Mix all ingredients together except for butter.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.

Use cupcake pans, mini-cupcake pans or both for your pies, as desired. After crust has chilled, roll it out between two sheets of parchment paper until it's relatively thin -- a little thinner than 1/4 inch.

Pull the parchment paper off the dough every now and then (flipping to do this on both sides) to ensure your dough isn't sticking. Use a big round cookie cutter or a knife to cut out a piece of dough about 2 inches larger around than your cupcake wells (or about 1 inch larger around than your mini-cupcake wells).

Fit this dough down into a well as a bottom crust. Fill it with filling, top it with a few bits of butter, and use another circle of dough to form the top crust. Crimp the edges (careful not to make your crimping too elaborate -- if your edge is too big, your pies can be top-heavy and pull apart.

You may just want to use a fork to create decorative edges instead of traditional "crimping.") Repeat this process until all of your mini pies are ready for the oven.

Brush them all with egg wash and sprinkle cinnamon and sugar mixture over the top.

Bake mini pies at 400 degrees for 15 minutes (for cupcake-sized) or 10 minutes (for mini-cupcake sized).

Turn temperature down to 375 degrees F, open then oven to rotate your pans and cool it off for a few seconds.

Bake cupcake-size pies for 7-9 minutes longer, and mini-cupcake sized pies for 6-7 minutes longer.

Remove from the oven and let pies cool completely in the pan -- then gently "twist" the pies in their wells to be sure they aren't sticking and pull them out.

Serve immediately or store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.

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