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Pies are a tradition at holiday gatherings, a “welcome to the neighborhood” gift and a beloved classic comfort food that never seem to go out of favor. With hundreds of filling possibilities from fruit to chocolate, there is truly a pie for every palate. Pies have certainly been a dessert mainstay, but today they are enjoying a renaissance in a new, more portable form.
Bumping cupcakes out as the “it” hand-held dessert, mini pies are turning a restaurant trend into a household delight. ranked “bite-size/mini desserts” as the second most popular dessert trend in 2011 following artisan/house-made ice cream. Bakers, chefs and home cooks alike are not only embracing the cutie pie trend but making it their own with everything from traditional flavors such as apple, pumpkin and banana cream to more trendy flavors like salted caramel, peanut butter and chili chocolate pies. Not just limited to sweet, savory minis like chicken and meat pies are just as hard to resist.
Just in time for the holiday entertaining, the California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB) has created a recipe for Orchard Hand Pies to help you bring the trend home. Featuring seasonal fruits and Real California Blue and Cheddar cheeses, the classic apple pie has been elevated to a new sweet and savory level. Need more convincing?
Orchard Hand Pies Makes 8 pies.
Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Combine apples, pears, 3 tablespoons sugar, pecans, cornstarch, butter, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, lemon zest and vanilla in a medium bowl; toss well. In a separate bowl, mix blue cheese and Cheddar cheese.
On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough 1/8-inch thick. Cut out eight 4 1/2-inch circles and eight 4-inch circles using round cutters or a plate, glass or lid of the right diameter. Lightly spray 8 wells of a muffin tin with cooking spray and line with 4 1/2-inch dough circles, leaving a 1/4-inch overhang.
Brush edges of dough with water. Sprinkle cheese mixture over bottom of dough, dividing it evenly. Mound fruit mixture on top of cheese, dividing it evenly. Place 4-inch dough circles on top, pressing edges with the tines of a fork to seal. Mix together 1 tablespoon sugar and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon. Brush tops of pies with water and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. With the tines of a fork, poke a few holes in each pie to vent steam. Bake 35-40 minutes or until pies are golden brown and a knife inserted into the filling feels no resistance. Cool pies in tin about 10 minutes; remove from tin and cool on a rack. Serve warm or room temperature.
All-Butter Pie Dough
In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar and salt. With a large-holed grater, grate butter into flour mixture; toss lightly with your fingers to coat butter with flour. Drizzle 1/2 cup water over flour and butter mixture; toss lightly with your hands or a spatula. If necessary, gradually add more water until clumps of dough adhere to each other when lightly squeezed. Transfer dough to work surface and form into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour. Dough may be store in refrigerator up to 24 hours or frozen. Bring to room temperature before using.