As much as I love peaches, lemons and raspberries in the summer, I love apples in the fall that much more. Apple picking used to be a favorite tradition of mine growing up and the tart, crisp flavor that characterizes this time of year just screams autumn to me. I try to incorporate them into anything and everything I can for a few months, and this year, mini apple pies were up first.
Really, these are incredibly easy–if you can make an apple pie (or OK, apple sauce), then you can make these. Sure, you could get fancy and make your own dough, but fall is already an incredibly short season as it is–no need to waste it inside making pie crust.
Pillsbury pie crust works great for this. Flour your surface, then unfold the dough out onto the counter (it should be room temperature). To get the right size circles to press into your cupcake tin, I recommend using a circle cutter that is at least an inch in a half in diameter–a small circle tupperware container I had in the cabinet was the perfect size. Press the circles into greased cupcake tins, crimping the edges (probably not the right term…) as you would with a normal apple pie. Poke holes in the base of each one with a fork–this prevents the dough from forming a bubble.
For the filling, place four cut apples, cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar and a tablespoon of butter into a sauce pan, set to low heat. All the spices are “to taste” and can be adjusted according to your preferences–don’t like cinnamon? Leave it out! Allow the apples to reduce down until they’ve become a bit mushy, but still hold their shape (think one stage before apple sauce). Spoon a generous portion of the mixture into each of the dough-lined cupcake tins (two packages of dough should make about 12 “topped” pies).
You then have two options–you can cover the tops like a traditional pie, making sure to poke holes with a fork and brush on a bit of butter–or you can leave them “open-faced” and allow the top layer of apple to caramelize a bit. In my experience, the ones that have the traditional pie top tend to be easier to remove from the cupcake tin once cooked.
Place the pies in the oven and cook at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes, or until the tops are browned and the dough has visibly puffed. Let cool for at least ten minutes before removing–longer if you can stand the wait. Serve with a dusting of cinnamon, or a la mode with french vanilla ice cream and enjoy the perfect beginning to fall.