Neat, sweet and petite: The holiday mini-pie made in a muffin tin

By Noelle Carter

Los Angeles Times (MCT)

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 27 2012 4:42 p.m. MST

2. Form the mini-pies: Prepare the muffin tins by greasing every other cup (fill alternating muffin cups to allow extra room to form and crimp the mini-crusts and to allow the heat to circulate more evenly to bake the crust as it bakes). On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a round one-eighth-inch thick and roughly 14 inches in diameter. Cut the dough into rounds using a 5 1/2-inch cutter. Gather the scraps and re-roll, cutting more large rounds (for bottom crusts) or smaller rounds (about 3 inches) to make the top crust. Carefully place the rounds in the muffin cups, pressing the dough against the bottom and edges of the cups. The dough should extend above the cups by one-half to three-fourths inch; roll the edges and crimp as desired.

3. If pre-baking the mini-pie crusts, gently line the shells with foil and fill with pie weights. Bake in a 425-degree oven for 10 minutes, then remove the weights and foil. Brush the edges of the mini crusts with egg wash and prick the bottom once or twice with a fork. Continue baking until the bottom of the crust is dry and lightly colored, 6 to 8 minutes more.

Each of 8 servings, without egg wash: 193 calories; 2 grams protein; 18 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 12 grams fat; 6 grams saturated fat; 19 mg cholesterol; 1 gram sugar; 220 mg sodium.

MINI DOUBLE-CRUST APPLE PIES

Total time: 1 1/2 hours, plus cooling time for the pies

Servings: 12

Note: To rehydrate the raisins, place them in a small saucepan and cover with juice, and warm over gentle heat until the raisins are softened and plump. Remove from heat and drain before using.

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter

6 large tart apples, such as Granny Smith, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

3 tablespoons dark brown sugar

¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Scant 1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup raisins, rehydrated in juice

12 unbaked mini pie crusts, with 12 unbaked top crusts

Prepared egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water)

Coarse sugar for dusting, if desired

1. Make the filling: In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Stir in the diced apple, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt, and cook, stirring frequently, just until the apple starts to soften, 4 to 5 minutes (the pieces should still be crisp). Remove from heat and stir in the raisins. Spread the apple mixture onto a baking sheet to allow the apples to cool quickly, then cover and refrigerate until needed. The filling can be made up to 2 days in advance.

2. Heat the oven to 375 degrees.

3. Fill the pie shells: Brush the edges of each bottom crust with the prepared egg wash and fill with the apple filling, a generous one-fourth cup filling for each shell, carefully packing it in the shell so there are no gaps and mounding the filling slightly in the center. Top the filling with the top crusts (use a knife to cut vent holes in the top crusts if they are not already vented), and brush the top crusts with egg wash. Gently roll the outer edges of each bottom crust inward over the top crust to seal the pies and crimp as desired. Brush with a little more egg wash and dust if desired with a sprinkling of coarse sugar.

4. Bake the mini pies, one tin at a time, in the center of the oven until the filling is set and the crust is puffed and golden brown, about 35 minutes.

5. Cool the pies, still in the tins, to room temperature, twisting them gently every few minutes so they do not stick to the pan.

Each serving: 511 calories; 6 grams protein; 57 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams fiber; 29 grams fat; 14 grams saturated fat; 64 mg cholesterol; 18 grams sugar; 544 mg sodium.

MINI PUMPKIN CHIFFON PIES

Total time: 1 hour, plus chilling time for the pies

Servings: 12

Note: The filling is adapted from a recipe in "The Pie and Pastry Bible" by Rose Levy Beranbaum. The filling uses uncooked egg whites.

¼ cup water

¼ ounce (2¼ teaspoons) powdered gelatin

1 ¼ cups (a 15-ounce can is 1¾ cups) fresh or canned pumpkin puree