Thursday, November 10, 2011

Caramel Apple Pie Bites

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These little bites look so fancy but they're really easy to make. Trust me. Just don't leave them on your kitchen table if you plan to take them anywhere besides your stomach. Each bite fits nicely in your mouth and it's quick to grab and go!

[Hint: Don't start the caramel sauce until the mini pies are out of the oven and on the cooling rack, otherwise, it won't be soft enough to dip the pies without damaging those flaky crusts!]

Caramel Apple Pie Bites   [click to print]
For the pie crust: 
2-1/2 c. flour
1 T. sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 sticks (8 oz.) butter, cold
1/2 c. water, ice cold

Whisk flour, sugar and salt together in large mixing bowl. Cut butter into 1/2 inch pieces and add to flour mixture. Using pastry blender, cut in butter until butter pieces are about the size of peas. It doesn't have to be perfectly even at this point. Drizzle water over mixture. Use a rubber spatula to gather the dough together until the mixture starts clumping together. Gently knead dough together with your fingertips; when it forms a lumpy ball, it's done. Be careful not to overwork, the heat from your hands can make the butter melt and that's what makes the crust so flaky and good! 

Divide dough and flatten to 1/2" disk; seal in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. The colder the dough, the better, though, so leave it for 2 or more hours if you can. 

Source: Recipe files of Smitten Kitchen

For the filling: 
1 c. apple butter (check out this recipe!)
2 medium apples
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 T. brown sugar
2 T. whole milk

Chop apples into 1/4 inch pieces and add to large saucepan. Add apple butter, cinnamon, sugar and milk. Stir to combine. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 25 min. or until apple pieces become soft. Remove from heat and allow to cool. 

Source: Recipe files of Sugar Rush!

For the caramel dip and walnut coating: 
8 oz. caramels (about 30 pieces)
2 tsp. apple cider
2 c. walnuts, chopped and toasted. 

Heat caramels and cider in small saucepan on med-low heat until melted. Pour into deep bowl and set aside.   Chop walnuts into small pieces and spread on wax paper. 

To assemble: 
Roll out the pie crust dough between two pieces of plastic wrap until it's no more than 1/8 inch thick. Cut 2-1/2 inch circles of dough using a floured cookie cutter, or, one of my personal favorites, the end of a plastic cup. Lightly coat mini muffin pan with nonstick spray. Set dough circles over muffin openings and gently press into muffin cup using the end of a floured spice jar.

Fill each crust with  T. apple butter. Gently scrunch overhanging dough to edges of cup. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes or until crust is light golden in color. Allow mini pies to cool to room temperature.

Dip half of pie in warm caramel dip, tap off any excess caramel. Roll edges in chopped, toasted walnuts on wax paper. Place on cooling rack over piece of wax paper and allow caramel to harden. If your caramel hardens too much to easily dip pies, just microwave at 15 second intervals, stirring well between each nuke, until soft and pourable.

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