Apples and dates meet sugar and spice in these bite sized apple date mini pies. A delightfully delicious way to satisfy your holiday sweet tooth. Read on for my tips and tricks to make sure yours come out right on the first try.
The holidays are a time to gather with friends and family to enjoy traditions both old and new. For most families, these traditions include food and in the USA that often includes apple pie.
While serving a full sized pie at Thanksgiving dinner is kind of a requirement, a full pie with plates, silverware, and serving utensils isn’t always the best fit for all of the other entertaining you’ll be doing around the holidays. If that’s the case, these apple date mini pies may be the perfect fit for your next gathering.
With a homemade crust and the sweet combination of spiced apples and dates, these mini pies will give your guests a delicious bite sized delight. Not only are they easy to grab off a dessert tray, they can also be frozen and enjoyed one at a time to keep your sweet tooth satisfied all season long.
For my apple date mini pies, I use my grandmother’s homemade pie crust. The recipe hasn’t failed me yet. I’ve done it with cold butter and room temperature butter. I’ve mixed it by hand, by mixer, or by food processor. However you want to do it, it will turn out yummy.
Keep in mind that these mini pies only use 1 crust worth of dough and that recipe makes two crusts. You can cut the recipe in half. To split a single egg in half beat the egg thoroughly then measure out two tablespoons of egg. You can use the other half of the egg for something else or discard.
Alternatively, you can make both crusts and keep one for another pie. Wrap the second half of the dough in plastic wrap then place in a freezer safe zip top bag. Store for 2 days in the fridge or for 2 – 3 months in the freezer. When you are ready to use, thaw it overnight in the fridge.
Lastly, you can always use your favorite brand of store bought dough. You can buy dough that needs to be rolled out, or the ones that are already rolled into a circle.
When rolling out the dough, you’ll want it thin enough to easily fit the mini muffin tin, while being thick enough to hold it’s shape and filling without cracking. Roll the dough until it’s about 1/8″ thick, then cut out a test crust.
I found that a 3″ wide cookie cutter, or in my case drinking glass, made the perfect size mini pie crust. Cut the first one and make sure it fits before cutting the other 23.
The edges will be ruffled around the side, but you should be able to shape and smooth it to fit. If the crust is too thick to fit, roll it slightly thinner and try again, until you get it just right.
The recipe does call for sherry. I keep a bottle of sherry in my fridge to use in recipes that call for white wine. While you can get a decent bottle at Trader Joe’s for around $5, or at most grocery stores for $7, purchasing a whole bottle just for 1 tablespoon isn’t always the best idea.
Some great alcoholic substitutions for this recipe are amaretto, brandy, cognac, bourbon, or real vanilla extract. Keep in mind that while the alcohol content for all of these are higher than sherry, we don’t want to taste the alcohol, just the underlying flavors. I recommend that if you choose this route, cut it down to 1 or 2 teaspoons of alcohol and add in enough water to bring the total liquid back to one tablespoon. (1 tablespoon = 3 teaspoons)
If you want to go the non-alcoholic route I would suggest apple juice or apple cider, or a combination of 2 teaspoons apple juice/cider with 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar. You’ll still get the acidity and sweetness that the wine brings to the combination, while skipping the alcohol all together.
The most time consuming part of making these mini pies is creating the lattice tops. I did it to make them look picture perfect, but if I make these again for an audience that won’t even notice it I would take another route, like using a cookie cutter.
A festive mini cookie cutter that is about 1 1/2″ across (or the same width as your muffin cup) could be used to make adorable shapes that could be laid on top of the pies. Leaves, turkeys, or pumpkins would be great for Thanksgiving, while Christmas trees, snowflakes, or snowmen would be nice for Christmas. No matter what you choose, just make sure that the top isn’t completely enclosed. The open space around the pie dough allows the extra steam to escape and prevents them from bubbling over.
Before baking, egg wash the top crust and the edge of the crust that is showing on the sides. You can also use the egg wash to help seal the top crust to the side crust. You don’t have to be exact, it’s okay if the egg wash gets directly on the filling.
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Apple Date Mini Pies Recipe
These mini pies can be made in advance and will keep for 3 – 5 days in the fridge. If you want to keep them longer, freeze them on a sheet pan for about 4 – 6 hours until solid, then place them in a freezer safe bag. Freezing them individually means the will come out looking just as pretty as when they went it. It also means you can steal one from the bag without having to defrost the whole bunch (no one will ever know!). A few minutes on the countertop or a few seconds in the microwave and they will be good to eat!
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Apple Date Mini Pies
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp ginger
- 1/8 tsp allspice
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 apple about 1 cup diced
- 1/2 cup dried dates
- 1 tbsp sherry *see notes
- 1 pie crust homemade or store bought
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp water
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In a medium sized mixing bowl combine together the cinnamon, ginger, allspice and cornstarch.
- Dice the apple and dates into small pieces, then toss with the cornstarch mixture to evenly coat.
- Add the sherry, stir to combine and let rest while you roll out the pie crust.
- Roll the pie crust out slightly thinner than a standard pie crust. About 1/8" thick. Using a 3" cookie cutter or glass with a 3" wide opening, cut a test pie, then try to fit it into a cup of the mini muffin pan. If it's too thick to fit, roll the dough slightly thinner and try again.
- Once you have the dough at the right thickness, cut out a total of 24 mini pie dough rounds.
- If using my homemade pie crust, it is not necessary to butter the muffin pan. If using a store bought version, please refer to the packaging's recommendation.
- Place each pie round into a muffin cup and lightly shape it to fill the pan.
- Give the filling a stir, then add 1 tablespoon of the filling into each dough lined muffin cup.
- Using the leftover dough, slice it into thin strips and form into the lattice topping or use a festive cookie cutter to create a fun shaped top.
- Beat together the egg and water to make an egg wash. Using a pastry brush, coat the tops of each mini pie.
- Place in a 350 degree oven and bake for 20 - 25 minutes. They are finished when the tops turn a golden, crusty brown.
- Two teaspoons: amaretto, brandy, cognac, bourbon, real vanilla extract, plus 1 teaspoon water.
- Two teaspoons apple juice/cider plus 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar.
- One tablespoon apple juice/cider.