September → Apples → Caramel Apples → Salted Caramel → Ice Cream → Pie → I Hate Sharing Dessert → Salted Caramel Apple Hand Pies.
And there you have it—a glimpse into the thought process behind this recipe. The critical link in the above chain is “I Hate Sharing Dessert,” which is what inspired me to transform a pie for 10 people into 10 personal pies. While sharing may be caring, it also happens to be impairing … to satisfying my sweet tooth.
The dough enveloping this mix of tart apples and sweet, salted caramel is part puff pastry, part pie dough. So while there’s just enough butter to form flaky layers of pastry, there’s also a bit of sour cream to guarantee moisture. Best of all, the recipe yields a puff pastry-like equivalent sans the hours of beating, folding and rolling required of the real deal.
If your skinny jeans are stretching beyond capacity at the sight of this recipe, then head on over to The Healthy Apple, where my friend Amie has whipped up a lighter take on a fall fruit dessert with her Gluten-Free Apple Pistachio Crisp. Or, follow my lead by telling yourself you’re “just having a little fruit for dessert” and grab a pie with one hand and a forkful of Amie’s crisp with the other. And don’t share either.
Salted Caramel Apple Hand Pies
Yield: Makes 10 (3-inch) hand pies
Prep Time: 1 hour (includes chilling)
Cook Time: 15 min
For the dough:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1/2 cup cold sour cream
For the filling:
2 cups small diced (peeled) Granny Smith apples (See Kelly's Notes)
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
8 store-bought soft caramels, roughly chopped
Large flake sea salt (See Kelly's Notes)
Egg wash (1 egg lightly whisked with 1 Tablespoon water)
Crystal sanding sugar (optional)
Make the dough:
Whisk together the flour, salt and baking powder in a large bowl.
Add the cubed butter to the bowl and use your fingers to work the butter into the flour until the mixture is the consistency of wet sand.
Stir in the sour cream (the dough will be very wet), and then turn the dough out onto a well-floured work surface.
Knead the dough a few times until it comes together, adding more flour, 1 teaspoon at a time, if the dough is too sticky to handle. Roll the dough into an 8x10-inch rectangle and dust both sides with flour before folding it into thirds as if you were folding a letter.
Rotate the dough 90º and roll it out again into an 8x10-inch rectangle. Fold the dough again into thirds then wrap it securely in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes while you make the filling.
Make the filling:
In a small bowl, combine the apples, lemon juice, cinnamon, sugar and flour, stirring until thoroughly mixed. Set aside.
Assemble the pies:
Preheat the oven to 425ºF.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and unfold it onto a well-floured surface, rolling it out to a 14x14-inch square. (See Kelly's Notes.)
Using a 3-inch circular cookie cutter or cup, cut out as many circles as possible. Re-roll the scraps and continue cutting out circles until you run out of dough, ensuring you end up with an even number of circles. (You should have approximately 20 3-inch circles.)
Place six of the dough circles on a Silpat or parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Spoon a small portion of the apple filling into the center of each circle, leaving enough of a border around the filling. Top the apple filling with a portion of the chopped caramels and a pinch of sea salt. Place a second dough circle atop each filled circle then use a fork to crimp the edges together, sealing each pie.
Brush each pie with the egg wash, and using a sharp knife, cut two or three vents on the top of each pie. Sprinkle the pies with crystal sanding sugar (optional).
Bake the pies for about 15 minutes, or until they're golden brown.
Remove the pies from the oven and allow them to rest for 10 minutes before serving. Repeat the filling and baking process with the remaining dough circles.
The cubed apples should be no larger than the size of corn kernels to ensure they become tender during the quick 15-minute bake time.
Large flake sea salt is available in most supermarkets. My preferred brand is Maldon Salt.
If the dough is too firm to work with after refrigerating, allow it to sit at room temperature for 10 minutes before cutting out the circular shapes.
If the sour cream in the dough makes it too sticky at any point in the rolling out process, just simply sprinkle a pinch of flour atop the wet areas and continue rolling.
Dough recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour.