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.
These apple hand pies can be as rustic or refined as you desire. No cookie cutter? No problem! Use a sharp knife or glass to cut out precise (or not-so-precise) circles, squares, triangles or any other shape that suits your fancy.
A pinch of sea salt lends a savory balance to these handheld treats that ooze fresh fruit flavor and silky smooth caramel. It’s the dynamic dessert duo, and it’s all wrapped up in finger-friendly package. No forks, no plates, no sharing required!
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
- Egg wash (1 egg lightly whisked with 1 Tablespoon water)
- Large flake sea salt (See Kelly's Notes)
- 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.
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Dough recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour.
So easy to make and so delicious. The whole family loved them
I’m so happy to read this, Kita!
I love these! I usually make them with store-bought caramels, but I currently have home-made caramel sauce. Do you think it will work if I use that?
Hi Loris – It’d most likely be too runny, especially after baking the pies.
I am looking forward to making these tomorrow. If I had spare homemade caramel sauce, I would probably just omit the caramel in the pies and serve them topped with the homemade sauce. Yum.
YUM! I hope you enjoy the recipe, Jennifer!
The flaky-ness and the layering of the pastry is fantastic in this recipe! So surprised! I also made half-moon pies instead of 2 full circles on top of each other, using a 4 inch circle. A double recipe made 33 half moons. I also used Werther’s original chewy caramels, and it did so well. I made them the night before, cooled them completely, and stored in an airtight container. They warm up in the microwave well, too! Caramel did not get too hard either.
I made a double recipe. I had a ton of apple mixture left over though, so I think I might make a pie with it. Thanks for the recipe!
You are so welcome, AC Jones! I’m thrilled you enjoyed the recipe!
Hi! I’ve made these and absolutely love them. Now I just ran into your muffin tin mini apple pies and want to try that presentation! Can I use this recipe but bake them in the muffin tins?
Absolutely, Loris! I’m not certain what the yield would be on the crust in terms of mini pies (it depends what you do with the lattice on top), but this recipe will definitely work in muffin tins. Enjoy!
Amazing I love it so much.
I’m so glad you enjoyed the recipe, Charlotte!
I love the dough its different from reg pie crust dough. Overall easy to make
I’m so glad you enjoyed the recipe, Kathy!
I loved making them for my family.
I’m so happy to read this, Charlotte!
Can you make these ahead (unbaked)before and bake before serving? Or bake ahead and reward? I’d like to make for thanksgiving and serve warm.
Absolutely! You can make them in the morning then bake right before serving. I worry if you make them and fully assemble them any sooner, the apple filling may start to release liquid and the crust will get soggy.
Very delicious fall dessert very easy to make.
I’m so glad you enjoyed the recipe!
wish there was a print option
Hi Angela – There is a purple print button on the recipe card above. :)
My favorite Apple pie recipe. I always make it. The caramel adds a great taste
So glad you are enjoying it, Sofie!
This recipe is AMAZING! I made them as a Saturday afternoon challenge a few weeks ago and they were an instant hit. I am getting ready to make them again for Thanksgiving. Thank you for sharing such a great and easy to share treat!
You are so welcome, Julia! I’m thrilled you enjoyed the recipe!
Can the dough be made by pulsing in the food processor?
Hi Becky – I haven’t tried that, but I’m concerned it might be a bit wet because of the sour cream. You could also pulse it up through adding the butter and then stir in the sour cream by hand.
Have you ever tried freezing this dough? I’ve made the hand pies a few times (SO good!) and have used the dough for pull size pies. Always a winner among guests. With Thanksgiving coming I’ll, I’d love to make the dough a week ahead and freeze.
Hi Sydney! The dough should freeze well as long as you seal it securely with several layers of plastic wrap. I’m so thrilled you’ve been enjoying the recipe!
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