I’m gonna be honest with you…I made these mini pies because I needed to make something that I knew would work.
For the past few weeks, I’ve had a cake and pan dulce recipe in rotation, recipe testing them whenever I have some time. And OMG they’ve been so stubborn and annoying. I made the cake four times. And the pan dulce…well, I’ve lost count at this point.
Luckily, the cake is at a great place but the pan dulce…eh, not so much. Especially after I went to Boyle Heights and had a REALLY good one. It made me realize I’m not that close. The top isn’t as crunchy, not as crisp as it should be. The foundation is nearly perfect tho so maybe after a weekend of rest and relaxation in Chi-town, I’ll be ready to figure out how the hell I’m supposed to make the top shatter-in-your-mouth-amazing.
But these pies…are perfect.
They caramel is chai-spiced. Oh yes. I think chai-spiced everything is delicious but caramel just makes complete sense. The cardamom and cinnamon and cloves all work their magic with apples.
I was sort of shy to use apples in a pie but we’re way too early to do rhubarb and strawberries and too late for persimmon or pear. Apples though still look good!
They’re my year around pie go-to.
I made them mini because I put these mini pie dishes in my Amazon basket and accidentally didn’t remove them when I bought something else. Oh well…so I used them!
I’m glad they didn’t go to complete waste.
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature and cubed
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
- Pinch of ground allspice
- Pinch of ground cardamom
- Pinch of ground cloves
- Pinch of salt
- 4 small Honey Crisp apples, cored and diced (the only reason I’m dicing them is because the pies are mini; if you’re making a big ol’ apple pie just slice them)
- Juice from 1/2 lemon
- 1 double-batch pie crust, store-bought or homemade
- 1 large egg, whisked with 1 tablespoon of water
- To make the chai-spiced caramel: In a small saucepan, set over medium heat (or you can use a microwave to do this), warm the heavy cream and then set aside.
- In a medium saucepan, set over medium heat, add the sugar. Shake it around a bit until there’s an even layer of sugar on the bottom of the saucepan. Cook the sugar, staying close by so you can keep an eye on it, until the edges of the sugar begin to dissolve and turn a light golden brown. At this point, give it a stir until it becomes an even light brown color. Turn off the heat. Pour in the warmed heavy cream (it may bubble up a bit but that’s ok) and keep stirring until smooth. Whisk in the spices and the butter, until melted. If at any time you need to, feel free to turn the heat back on. The color should be a light to medium brown. Set the caramel aside. *Note: Right before you use it, you may need to reheat it over medium-low heat. It may seem like it turned into a big caramel candy, but reheating it and whisking it will make it super smooth and pourable again.
- In a medium bowl, add the diced apple and lemon juice and toss until evenly coated.
- Flour your rolling pin and work surface lightly. Roll out the first disk of pie dough, being sure to rotate it every so often, as to avoid it from sticking. If you’re using mini pie tins or pie dishes, flip them over and place them on the pie dough; using a knife, stencil a circle, leaving about a 2 to 3-inch border around the pie dishes (we’ll need that extra room for the trim). Cut out the stencils and line your mini pie dishes with the pie crust.
- Divide the diced apple mixture amongst the mini pies. Add about two tablespoons of caramel to each mini pie.
- Add any top you like. I went for a variety. I used a mini heart cookie cutter to add a heart top. I did a lattice. I did a braid. Get creative!
- Transfer the pies to a baking sheet and stick ‘em in the freezer to chill for 1 hour.
- (Fun fact: You can also keep the pies in the freezer for up to 1 day to 2 days. Bake straight from the freezer!)
- When you’re ready to bake the pies, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Brush the tops of the pies with egg wash. Transfer to the oven to bake for 25 to 35 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown. You may need to rotate the pies at the 15 minute mark (this is if your oven bakes unevenly (mine does!)).
- Remove from the oven and serve with vanilla ice cream.