It’s a small world: mini iPods, mini dogs, mini muffins. Isn’t everything cuter in mini size? And now there is one more item to join the mini obsession: mini pies! These little pies are cute, delicious, and perfectly portioned. What could be better? Well, the only downside to these pies is the inability to, as we call it, “even them off” (a.k.a the act of taking a second sliver of pie under the pretense that you are trying to make the dessert look more symmetrical). But even though you may not be able to sneak a sliver from a mini pie, you can always sneak a second mini portion. Believe me, everyone else will!
What makes these little pies so great? Well, first let’s start with the very basics. The crust. This is the type of crust that would make any French pastry chef proud. Why? 1) Taste: butter, butter, butter. This is a rich butter crust with just a hint of sweetness, meaning it has great flavor without becoming cloying when paired with a sweet filling. 2) Texture: strong in foundation so that can hold up to any filling without becoming soggy, but extremely light in wonderful crispy flakiness. Can it really get any better? Oh yes, that’s where the filling comes in.
Mini pies, of course, can come in all shapes and flavors. Fruity or nutty, savory or sweet, the fillings for a mini pie are endless. For me, I chose classic apple and comforting sweet potato as my two test subjects. And both were incredible.
Test Subject #1: Mini Apple Crumble Pies. These pies have a wonderfully spiced crumb topping that practically melts in your mouth thanks to its soft, buttery base. This rich topping is complimented by a fresh and naturally sweet cinnamon apple filling; a perfect combination of buttery richness enveloping fresh fruity taste. Classic on the inside and classy on the outside!
Test Subject #2: Mini Sweet Potato Pies. Now I admit that I have had many pumpkin pies in my lifetime, but never a sweet potato pie. Well, these little treats certainly satisfy my pumpkin-pie-loving-heart. Brown sugar imparts a deeper molasses hint to the natural sweetness of this smooth filling, and the slight taste of spice imparts warm autumn memories of your favorite pumpkin pie. Comfort in a pie shell.
But don’t stop there! Strawberry-rhubarb, blackberry, lemon curd, even a savory quiche filling would be incredible in mini pie form. These tiny tarts are perfect for entertaining, gift giving, or just enjoying as a little treat. Happy mini baking!
Yield: 15 mini pies
2 ⅓ cups GF Flour Mix*
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 Tablespoon sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, cold
1 Tablespoon cider vinegar
5-7 Tablespoons cold water
Preheat oven to 375°F. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour mix, xanthan gum, sugar, and salt. Using a pastry cutter or your fingers, cut in cold butter until mixture resembles a coarse meal. Mix in cider vinegar and water one tablespoon at a time, adding just enough water until mixture comes together into a ball. Roll out dough to ¼-inch thickness on a piece of floured parchment paper.
Cut out individual crusts using a large circular cookie cutter (at least 3½ inches in diameter). Gently press each crust cutout into a regular-sized (2½-inch), ungreased muffin tin (extra remaining dough can be cut out into different shapes to decorate tops of filled pies). Fill as desired and bake until crust is golden and filling is set (about 30-40 minutes for apple and sweet potato fillings).
½ cup GF Flour Mix*
¼ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ cup butter, soft
2-3 large apples (or 5-7 mini apples), peeled and thinly sliced
⅓ cup brown sugar
1 Tablespoon GF Flour Mix*
1 teaspoon cinnamon
⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
For Topping: In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together GF flour, sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Using fingers, mix in butter until evenly incorporated and mixture comes together to form large crumbs. Set aside.
For Filling: In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, GF flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Toss in apples, and mix with a spatula until all apple slices are completely covered with mixture. Spoon filling into unbaked pie crusts and top with crumb mixture. Bake at 375°F for 30-40 minutes.
½ pound sweet potato, peeled and cubed
¼ cup butter
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup milk
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon vanilla
Steam sweet potato in a steam basket over simmering waters until fork-tender, approximately 20 minutes. In a medium-sized bowl, mash potatoes completely with a fork until smooth. Mix in butter until melted. Beat in sugar, milk, egg, nutmeg, cinnamon, and vanilla. Continue beating until smooth. Pour filling into unbaked pie crusts and bake at 375°F for 30-45 minutes.
*GF Flour Mix
2 cups brown rice flour
2/3 cup potato starch
1/3 cup tapioca starch