Easy Way to Win a Pie-Eating Contest


These Mason Jar Apple Pies also provide a nice answer when one wonders what to bring to the office Christmas party.  Of course!  They’re unusual, but not as exotic as some of the things this blog has featured, so maybe they’ll intrigue while remaining comforting.

Best of all, they’re single-serving size, allowing each diner to have a taste.  A few bites are all you’ll get, but that’s the idea of a buffet, isn’t it?  Besides, if you like them, you always can take someone else’s share.  It’ll be our secret.

Speaking of secrets, citrus zest is this one’s special twist.  After the apples were diced, the recipe advises sprinkling them with lemon juice to preserve their color, which led me to wonder…  In fact, I mixed tangerine zest in with the crust dough, and added it along with lemon zest to the filling.  Not enough to make this a citrus-y desert, but it does lend the flavor a subtle sparkle.

Aside from this, the ingredients are what you’d expect for apple pie – cinnamon, cloves, ginger, among others.  This dish oozes cold-weather comforts, so it’s a good thing to bring to a Christmas party.

Most of these mini-pies were put in the freezer uncooked, where they remain.  The night before the party I’ll bake them, but for now they’re on pause, just waiting for their moment in the spotlight.

A site called PureWow inspired me to try these, and I think the recipe is worthy of the source’s title.  I hope you agree.  Although the directions recommend using store-bought prepared dough, I tried my hand at making my own, from scratch.  I found the recipe here.  Again, I hope it’s worth the extra effort.

*****

Mini Mason Jar Apple Pies

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 Honeycrisp apples, peeled and chopped (*1)
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar (*2)
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 packages store-bought pie dough (*3)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons turbinado sugar (*4)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Have ready six 1/4-pint mason jars on a baking sheet.

In a large saute pan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the apples and saute until nearly tender, about 5 minutes.

Add the sugar, flour, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and vanilla and saute for two more minutes (*5).  Let mixture cool to room temperature.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough until it’s flat and slightly thinner than it was.  Cut the dough into six 3-inch circles and six 2-inch circles.

Press a 3-inch circle into a mason jar, adhering it firmly to the base and sides and taking care not to puncture  it.  Trim any excess and repeat for the other jars.

Scoop the cooled filling into the pastry-lined jars, mounding it about 1/4-inch over the top rim.

Place a 2-inch dough round on top and tuck the edges so they meet the jar’s edge.  Crimp the edges with your finger or a fork.

Whisk together an egg and water until combined.  Brush the egg wash over each pie and sprinkle with sugar.  Cut vents into each pie top.

Bake until pies are golden-brown, 20 to 25 minutes.

*****

NOTES:

1 – To provide a nice balance of flavors and textures I used various apples; not just Honeycrisps but also Granny Smiths and Kikus, a Japanese breed.  Of course, I made a quadruple recipe to feed a crowd, thus employing eight apples.  A single recipe calls for only two apples, making it difficult to have much of a variety.

2 – The next time, I’ll try granulated sugar instead of the brown sugar.  Purely aesthetical, but the brown sugar makes the filling too dark for my eyes.

3 – As mentioned, I made my own dough, the recipe for which follows.

4 – If you can’t find turbinado sugar, brown sugar, granulated sugar or even cinnamon would be all right.

5 – In addition to what the recipe specifies I included a bit of citrus zest, from both a tangerine and a lemon.  They bring an unmistakable freshness.

*****

Butter Flaky Pie Crust (*1)

  • 1 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, chilled and diced (*2)
  • 1/4 cup ice water

In a large bowl, combine flour and salt.  Cut in butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. (*3)  Stir in water, a tablespoon at a time, until mixture forms a ball.  Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for four hours or overnight.

Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface.

*****

NOTES:

1 – This recipe makes slightly more dough than you’ll need for a six of the mason jar pies.  I made a quadruple recipe of the pies, so a triple recipe of the dough worked well.

2 – The finer you can dice the butter the better, as it’ll require less work to integrate it into the dough, resulting in a flakier crust.  Elsewhere, I even have heard of freezing the butter and grating it in a food processer.  The thing to remember, though, is that you want the butter to be cold when you add it to the flour, as room-temperature or warm butter will create a tough crust.

3 – I added a bit of tangerine zest to the dough at this point, giving it a nice flavor.  Had to be careful not to overdo it, though.

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