Mini Apple Hand Pies – A Bite of Nostalgia
I remember the first time I tasted a mini apple hand pie like it was yesterday. It was a crisp autumn afternoon, and the air was filled with the heavenly scent of apples, cinnamon, and tender pastry. I found myself standing in front of a bustling bakery, drawn in by the warm glow of the oven and the promise of something utterly delightful. Little did I know that this humble treat would become a cherished memory and forever hold a special place in my heart.
Legend has it that hand pies, like the ones we’re about to make, originated in medieval times as a portable meal for knights on the go. While these pastries have traversed history in many variations, the combination of apples and warm spices has remained constant throughout the ages. There’s something undeniably comforting about biting into a mini apple hand pie, a tiny morsel that encapsulates the essence of autumn and the joy of sharing food with loved ones.
For the pastry:
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter, cold and cubed
- 6-8 tablespoons ice-cold water
For the apple filling:
- 4 medium-sized apples, peeled, cored, and diced into small cubes
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- A pinch of salt
For assembly and glaze:
- 1 egg, beaten
- 2 tablespoons milk or heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar (optional, for sprinkling)
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and salt for the pastry. Add the cold, cubed butter and use a pastry cutter or your fingertips to work the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs.
- Gradually add the ice-cold water, one tablespoon at a time, mixing until the dough comes together. Be careful not to overwork the dough. Form the dough into a disk, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
- While the dough chills, prepare the apple filling. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the diced apples, granulated sugar, brown sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and a pinch of salt. Cook until the apples are tender and the mixture thickens slightly, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and let it cool.
- Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out the chilled pastry dough to about ⅛ inch thickness. Use a round cookie cutter (approximately 4 inches in diameter) to cut out circles from the dough.
- Place a spoonful of the cooled apple filling onto the center of each pastry circle. Fold the pastry over the filling, forming a semi-circle, and gently press the edges together. Use a fork to seal the edges.
- Transfer the filled hand pies to the prepared baking sheet. Beat the egg with milk or cream and brush the tops of the pies with the mixture. Sprinkle with granulated sugar, if desired, for a delightful crunch.
- Bake the hand pies in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow them to cool on a wire rack before serving.
Tips and Variations
- For added texture and flavor, consider folding in a handful of chopped walnuts or raisins into the apple filling.
- If you want a glossy finish on your hand pies, mix a tablespoon of melted butter with the beaten egg before brushing on the pastry.
- Serve these warm hand pies with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dollop of freshly whipped cream for an indulgent treat.
- Experiment with different apple varieties such as Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, or Fuji to customize the taste to your liking.
As you take your first bite into these mini apple hand pies, may you feel the warmth and love that goes into each one. Let these delicate treats transport you to simpler times, reminiscent of the crackling leaves beneath your feet and the cozy embrace of autumn. Share them with friends, family, or simply enjoy them alone – for in every bite lies a taste of tradition and a sprinkle of sweet nostalgia.