Friday, January 23, 2015

Quick Puff Pastry Apple Hand Pies

I love apple pie. And I feel pretty confident (correct me if I'm wrong!) that it's a relatively "safe" dessert to serve at a dinner party or bring to a friend's. Most people don't cry, "Oh, the horror! Apple pie! Shield my eyes!" So it's a good go-to dessert. But sometimes I'm just not in the mood to make a big mess in the kitchen or I simply don't have time to start from scratch. Enter: Individual apple hand pies made with puff pastry!

I first learned about this recipe last spring when I was visiting my sister at her house; she had just given birth to my second niece and was now settling back in at home. It was evident that suddenly being catapulted into having two kids under 3 years old who needed constant supervision was going to require quick meals and creativity. My mom was in town staying over to help out and found this pie recipe online. It was so easy that she was able to assemble these pies and still get back to being the supportive mom and grandma requested of her. And the pies were a hit.
These pies are cute (because anything individual-sized is adorable...duh!), delicious, and EASY BREEZY. In fact, you could make them WITH your guests after dinner is over. Because group activities are fun! Just purchase a package of puff pastry that has two sheets in it, make the quick apple filling, and cut up the puff pastry into 9 portions. You sandwich the apple filling between two pieces of puff pastry and create a pie pocket. Add a little decorative fork-tining artwork to the edges, and you've got something that looks impressive but took no time or effort to make. I got ooohs and ahhhhs when I served this at a dinner party, and bonus points: the house smelled amazing! Serve the pies with vanilla bean ice cream for pie a la mode. Soooo good.

Quick Puff Pastry Apple Hand Pies
Adapted from a recipe on submitted by Chef Fifi

1 (17-ounce) package puff pastry that contains two pastry sheets (Trader Joe's sells this!!)
2 medium-sized baking apples (such as Granny Smith, Pippin, or Gravenstein), peeled, cored, and coarsely chopped
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons flour
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 egg, beaten

Thaw puff pastry according to directions on package.

To make the filling, in a medium bowl, combine apples with sugar, flour, lemon juice, cinnamon and nutmeg. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Place 1 sheet of puff pastry on a floured work surface and cut the pastry sheet into nine 3x3-inch squares. Will look like a tic-tac-toe board! Place the squares on an ungreased baking sheet. Scoop approximately 1/4 cup of the apple mixture onto the center of each square. Brush the edges with the beaten egg.

Place the second sheet of puff pastry on the floured work surface and cut the pastry sheet into nine 3x3-inch squares. Place one square on top of each apple filling-topped square on the baking sheet to form a pie pocket! Use your fingers to seal the edges together and then use a fork to go over the edges and create a design (criss-cross or straight or diagonal!).

With a sharp knife, cut a small L-shaped incision, about 1-inch, into the top of each pie and fold back the pastry flap so the pie can let steam escape while baking.

Brush each pie with the remaining egg wash.

Bake until golden brown on top, about 20 minutes. Sometimes I let it go a little longer because I want a darker, crisper crust.

Voila! Instant individual apple pies!

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