A tart-and-sweet cranberry apple filling is lightly flavored with cinnamon and vanilla and encased in butter-y dough. Cranberries and apples are magical together; I love the tartness of the cranberries and the sweetness of the apples in these pies. A sprinkle of sugar over the top gives a sweet and crunchy texture to the crust.
Having pie in mini form gives two tremendous advantages, the first being that you have a much, much higher crust to filling ratio. Piecrust lovers be glad! The second is that they are just stinking cute in mini form.
I made these earlier is this week and had planned on making a big pie version to share online, but my 6-year-old didn’t want a big pie. She wanted more mini-pies. That, and the 15 minute cook time convinced me to make these again today instead, to both share with you, and for us to enjoy.
I am pretty obsessed with cranberries right now. I am putting them in smoothies, making cranberry sauce, and cooking them in mini-pies. But, I am sure you could replace the cranberries in this recipe with more diced apples, if desired. The cranberries add loads of flavor, however.
The other great thing about this recipe is that you can use your favorite piecrust recipe (just make enough for a double crust pie). I will share the gluten-free piecrust that I have been using in this recipe, but I don’t see any reason why you can’t substitute your favorite. I used rich almond flour and sprouted brown rice flour to form the base of mine. Despite the guar gum, you will need to be careful with this dough, as it is a bit crumbly. But you are rewarded with delicious, slightly nutty, rich dough in the end. Using a wheat-based piecrust will make it less fragile. If you’d like to have that nutty element (which does go incredibly well with the filling) simply substitute a bit of finely ground almonds or almond flour for some of the wheat flour in your recipe.
Cranberry Apple Mini Pies
Makes about 18 mini pies
1 cup of peeled and finely diced apples (sweet apples are nice in contrast to the tart cranberries)
1 cup of fresh cranberries
½ cup of unrefined cane sugar, coconut sugar, maple sugar or sweetener of choice
½ cup of filtered water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup of almond flour (preferably finely ground flour made from blanched and peeled almonds. However I used finely ground whole almonds made in my food processor, as I had run out of my almond flour.)
1 cup of sprouted brown rice flour, brown rice flour, or gluten-free flour of choice
½ cup of sweet rice flour, arrowroot flour, or organic cornstarch
1 teaspoon unrefined salt
2 teaspoons of guar gum
¼ cup unrefined cane sugar, coconut sugar, maple sugar or sweetener of choice
1 cup of cold butter (you can replace up to half of this with cold coconut oil or palm shortening)
Flour for rolling
Unrefined sweetener for sprinkling over the top
Egg wash, optional*
1. Make piecrust of choice and chill for 30 minutes, or make my gluten-free one as detailed below.
a) Combine the flours, salt, sugar and guar gum in a bowl and whisk, or place in a food processor and blend until combined.
b) Cut up the cold butter into small cubes and use a pastry cutter or fork and knife (or “rub” the butter into the flour English-style) until the butter and flour mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. If using a food processor, pulse until it forms the right texture.
c) Add just enough ice-cold water (1-3 tablespoons), so that the dough holds together in a ball when you press some of it together in your hand.
d) Wrap well and refrigerate 30 minutes to 2 hour. (You can make a day or two ahead of time, but leave out for 5-15 minutes if refrigerated for a long time, before attempting to roll out).
2. Meanwhile, make the filling. In a large saucepan, combine all of the filling ingredients, except the vanilla extract. Bring to a low simmer and keep the mixture at a low rumble for ten to fifteen minutes. When the cranberries and apples are soft, it is done. Using a fork or the back of a wooden spoon squish the cranberries. If there is a lot of liquid, turn heat to high, and stir constantly until the liquid has turned into a sauce that coats the fruit. Remove pan from heat, stir in vanilla extract and cool. As it cools it should become a jam-like consistency.
3. To make mini pies:
Preheat oven to 375F and line a cookie pan, or jelly roll pan with parchment paper.
4. Once the piecrust has chilled, remove and cut into equal balls. Using plenty (and I mean plenty!) of rice flour or flour of choice, roll out half the dough at a time. With my dough, I found it helpful not only to use plenty of flour, but also to roll out on parchment paper. Roll to ¼-1/8th of an inch. Don’t go too thin otherwise the dough will become too fragile.
5. Cut out circles with a biscuit cutter, an upside down cup, or a Mason jar lid (which is what I used). Gently remove using a thin spatula or dough scraper and place on prepared sheet.
6. Place about 1 tablespoon of filling in the dead center of the dough (leaving about ¼ inch clear around the edge of dough). Place another dough circle over the filling, and then gently press the edges down together using a fork or the tip of a finger. Repeat until done. (To make 18 I needed to reuse dough scraps and re-roll. How many you get also depends on how big your circles are.)
7. If using the egg wash, then brush a small amount on each pie and sprinkle them with sugar (my daughter is allergic to eggs, so we simply sprinkled it without the egg wash and it worked fine).
8. Cook for 15 minutes in the middle of the oven, or until the edges are starting to brown.
9. Remove pan from the oven and cool completely on the pan. If you would like to eat these warm, eat using a fork, as they may fall apart if holding in your hand. When completely cool, they hold together much better.
* Egg Wash: Whisk together one large egg with a dash of water (about 1 tablespoon) and a pinch of salt
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