Neat, sweet, petite - Holiday mini-pies

2012-11-21T00:15:00Z Neat, sweet, petite - Holiday mini-piesBy Noelle Carter of The Los Angeles Times Montana Standard
November 21, 2012 12:15 am  • 

Short of any family drama, the biggest dilemma most of us face at the holiday table revolves around dessert. Specifically: Which pie do I choose? (Or, rather: Why do I get to try only one?)

Why stop at one? Friends and family, there is a solution: the mini-pie.

At first glance, it looks exactly like a traditional pie, but miniaturized. Same rich and buttery crust with that tell-tale flake, same flavorful filling. All scaled down, “Mini-Me”-style. It may even have the same artfully crimped edges, only they’re tiny. Delicate even.

Call them what you will — tiny pies, muffin tin pies, cup-pies — they’re essentially pies baked in muffin tins. And you can bake batches at a time.

You don’t need anything fancy to make the cute little guys — a couple of standard nonstick muffin tins will do, maybe one or two tiny cookie cutters if you want to get fancy. As for ingredients, a single standard pie’s worth of filling and two to three single pie crusts are enough to give you a dozen or so mini-pies.

FLAKY PIE CRUST

Total time: 20 minutes,

plus chilling time

Servings: This makes enough dough for 1 single (9-inch) pie crust or

4 (double-crust) to 6 (single-crust) mini-pies

1½ cups (6.4 ounces) flour

¾ teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons sugar

3 tablespoons cold shortening

5 tablespoons cold butter, cut into ½-inch cubes

1½ teaspoons cider vinegar

3 to 4 tablespoons ice water, more if needed

Prepared egg wash (1 egg

beaten with 1 tablespoon water)

To make the dough using a food processor, pulse together the flour, salt and sugar until thoroughly combined. Add the shortening and pulse until incorporated (the dough will look like moist sand). Add the butter and pulse just until the butter is reduced to small, pea-sized pieces. Sprinkle the vinegar and water over the mixture, and pulse once or twice until incorporated. Remove the crumbly mixture to a large bowl and gently press the mixture together until it comes together to form a dough. Mold the dough into a disk roughly 6 inches in diameter. Cover the disk tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours.

To make the dough by hand, whisk together the flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Add the shortening and incorporate using a pastry cutter or fork (the dough will look like moist sand). Cut in the butter just until it is reduced to small, pea-sized pieces. Sprinkle the vinegar and water over the mixture, and stir together just until incorporated. Proceed as above.

Form the mini-pies: Prepare the muffin tins by greasing every other cup (fill alternating muffin cups to allow extra room to form and crimp the mini-crusts and to allow the heat to circulate more evenly to bake the crust as it bakes). On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a round one-eighth-inch thick and roughly 14 inches in diameter . Cut the dough into rounds using a

5½-inch cutter . Gather the scraps and re-roll, cutting more large rounds (for bottom crusts) or smaller rounds (about 3 inches) to make the top crust . Carefully place the rounds in the muffin cups, pressing the dough against the bottom and edges of the cups. The dough should extend above the cups by one-half to three-fourths inch; roll the edges and crimp as desired.

If pre-baking the mini-pie crusts, gently line the shells with foil and fill with pie weights. Bake in a 425-degree oven for 10 minutes, then remove the weights and foil. Brush the edges of the mini crusts with egg wash and prick the bottom once or twice with a fork. Continue baking until the bottom of the crust is dry and lightly colored, 6 to 8 minutes more.

Each of 8 servings, without egg wash: 193 calories; 2 grams protein; 18 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 12 grams fat; 6 grams saturated fat; 19 mg cholesterol; 1 gram sugar; 220 mg sodium.

MINI PUMPKIN CHIFFON PIES

Total time: 1 hour, plus chilling time for the pies. Servings: 12

Note: The filling is adapted from a recipe in “The Pie and Pastry Bible” by Rose Levy Beranbaum. The filling uses uncooked egg whites.

¼ cup water

¼ ounce (20x188 teaspoons) powdered gelatin

1¼ cups (a 15-ounce can is

1¾ cups) fresh or canned pumpkin puree

¾ cup sugar, divided

½ teaspoon ground ginger

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon nutmeg, preferably f

reshly grated, plus extra for dusting the finished pies

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup milk

3 eggs, separated

3/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

12 pre-baked mini-pie shells, still in the muffin tins

Whipped cream, for garnish

Put the water in a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over the top. Set aside until the gelatin is fully moistened, at least 3 minutes.

In a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan, stir together the pumpkin, one-half cup of the sugar, the ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg, and the salt. Over medium heat, bring the mixture to a sputtering simmer, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to low and continue to cook until the mixture is thick and shiny, 3 to 5 minutes.

Scrape the mixture into a food processor fitted with the metal blade and process for 1 minute. With the motor running, add the milk, processing until incorporated. Add the egg yolks one at a time, processing just to incorporate, about 5 seconds after each addition. Add the gelatin mixture and pulse in.

Return the mixture to the saucepan and heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened slightly (160 to 170 degrees), about 3 minutes. Pour the mixture into a medium bowl and set aside.

Chill the pumpkin custard by placing the bowl over a larger bowl of ice water, with about 1 tablespoon of salt added to the ice water to speed chilling. Stir occasionally for the first 10 minutes, then slowly but frequently for about 10 minutes longer.

6. No more than 20 minutes before you put the pies together, make the meringue: In a mixing bowl, beat the egg whites over low speed until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and beat at high speed until soft peaks form when the beater is raised slowly. Gradually beat in the remaining one-fourth cup sugar, beating until stiff peaks form when the beater is raised.

7. When a small amount of the custard dropped from a spoon mounds very slightly on the surface before disappearing, immediately remove the bowl from the water bath and, using a whisk, fold in the meringue just until blended. You will have about 5 cups filling.

8. Place the filling in a pastry bag fitted with a large tip, and fill each pie with a generous one-fourth cup filling . Refrigerate until set, at least 2 hours, before serving. Garnish with a dollop of whipped cream and a dusting of nutmeg.

Each of serving: 314 calories; 5 grams protein; 35 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 17 grams fat; 8 grams saturated fat; 59 mg cholesterol; 11 grams sugar; 378 mg sodium.

—-

MINI DOUBLE-CRUST APPLE PIES

Total time: 10x189 hours, plus cooling time for the pies

Servings: 12

Note: To rehydrate the raisins, place them in a small saucepan and cover with rum, another liqueur or juice, and warm over gentle heat until the raisins are softened and plump. Remove from heat and drain before using.

4 tablespoons (0x189 stick) butter

6 large tart apples, such as Granny Smith, peeled, cored and cut into 0x189-inch pieces

3 tablespoons dark brown sugar

0x190 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Scant 0x189 teaspoon salt

0x189 cup raisins, rehydrated in rum, another liqueur or juice

12 unbaked mini pie crusts, with 12 unbaked top crusts

Prepared egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water)

Coarse sugar for dusting, if desired

1. Make the filling: In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Stir in the diced apple, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt, and cook, stirring frequently, just until the apple starts to soften, 4 to 5 minutes (the pieces should still be crisp). Remove from heat and stir in the raisins. Spread the apple mixture onto a baking sheet to allow the apples to cool quickly, then cover and refrigerate until needed. The filling can be made up to 2 days in advance.

2. Heat the oven to 375 degrees.

3. Fill the pie shells: Brush the edges of each bottom crust with the prepared egg wash and fill with the apple filling, a generous one-fourth cup filling for each shell, carefully packing it in the shell so there are no gaps and mounding the filling slightly in the center. Top the filling with the top crusts (use a knife to cut vent holes in the top crusts if they are not already vented), and brush the top crusts with egg wash. Gently roll the outer edges of each bottom crust inward over the top crust to seal the pies and crimp as desired. Brush with a little more egg wash and dust if desired with a sprinkling of coarse sugar.

4. Bake the mini pies, one tin at a time, in the center of the oven until the filling is set and the crust is puffed and golden brown, about 35 minutes.

5. Cool the pies, still in the tins, to room temperature, twisting them gently every few minutes so they do not stick to the pan.

Each serving: 511 calories; 6 grams protein; 57 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams fiber; 29 grams fat; 14 grams saturated fat; 64 mg cholesterol; 18 grams sugar; 544 mg sodium.

—-

MINI PECAN PIES

Total time: 1 hour, 20 minutes, plus cooling time for the pies

Servings: 12

Note: Makes enough filling for 12 to 14 mini-pies or 1 (9- to 10-inch) pie

3 whole eggs

3 egg yolks

1 cup dark corn syrup

0x189 cup dark brown sugar

9 tablespoons (1 stick plus 1 tablespoon) melted butter

Scant 0x189 teaspoon salt

1 0x189 tablespoons bourbon

2 0x188 cups pecan pieces

12 unbaked mini pie shells

Prepared egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water)

1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease muffin tins in each alternating cup.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and egg yolks. Whisk in the corn syrup and sugar, then the melted butter, salt and bourbon. Stir in the pecan pieces.

3. Fill the pie shells: Brush the edges with the prepared egg wash and fill with the pecan filling, about one-fourth cup filling for each shell .

4. Bake the mini-pies, one tin at a time, in the center of the oven until the filling is set and the crust is puffed and golden brown, about 25 minutes.

5. Cool the pies, still in the tins, to room temperature, twisting them gently every few minutes so they do not stick to the pan.

Each serving: 619 calories; 7 grams protein; 57 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams fiber; 42 grams fat; 15 grams saturated fat; 141 mg cholesterol; 18 grams sugar; 455 mg sodium.

Copyright 2015 Montana Standard. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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