Every year a magical time comes around the first week in October … it’s called Design Camp. If you’ve never heard of Design Camp, it is a three day design conference, filled to the brim with phenomenal keynote speakers, workshops, creative sessions, mixers, karaoke, networking and campfires. A few of my college friends and I met up for camp this year and we planned a road trip from Stevens Point, WI to our final destination Nisswa, MN. Road trips equal lots of munchies, so of course I had to bake something new!
Often times I find myself experimenting with different ingredients and recipes. Unfortunately, experimentation can often lead to disaster. However, these disasters are perfectly normal and allow us to learn from our mistakes. This is one of those baking epic failures, but it lead to an even better recipe.
For our road trip I wanted to make a caramel apple cup cake, with white cake, apple filling and caramel frosting topped with caramel drizzle and chopped pecans. Cupcakes are the perfect food for on the on the go so I thought it would be a good choice, but I ignored that fact that I have a horrible time with white cake. I can bake any kind of cake, but when it comes to a simple white cake, I struggle. It always turns out like a muffin and is never light, fluffy and moist like cake. One day when I create the perfect white cake, I will be sure to share it with you!
I began experimenting with apple filling and it took me three times to get it right, but it’s delicious! The first time it was too thick, the second time it turned into applesauce and the third was perfect. I guess the third times the charm. The night before we left, I tried making the cupcakes and the caramel frosting and of course it was yet another epic fail. I was running out of time and didn’t have enough time left for cake experimentation. Since I had so much apple filling already made, I thought I should make something with my new apple filling, but what could I make that would be an easy on the go treat? Apple pie was the perfect answer, but instead of baking a regular pie I created cute little mini pies that are the perfect finger food. I hope you enjoy this delicious fall treat!
• 1 cup apple cider
• ½ cup granulated sugar
• 2 teaspoons lemon juice
• ½ cup water
• 2-3 Macintosh apples peeled and chopped into small pieces
• 4 tablespoons flour
• Pinch of cinnamon
• ¼ cup packed light brown sugar
• ¼ cup packed dark brown sugar
• ¼ cup flour
• ¼ cup quick-rolled oats
• ⅛ cup butter softened (½ stick)
• 3 cups flour
• 1 ¼ cup shortening
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
• ¼ – ½ cup ice-cold water
• 1 egg
• Chopped pecans
01 Preheat the oven to 350°F.
02 To make the filling, whisk the apple cider, granulated sugar, lemon juice, water, and flour in a medium pan. Heat the liquid mixture at a medium heat and continue to occasionally stir so it does not burn. While the mixture is cooking, peel and chop your apples into smaller pieces. Place the apple pieces into the heated mixture and continue to cook and stir over medium heat until the apples become tender and the mixture thickens. Once the mixture has thickened, remove it from heat and set aside in the refrigerator to cool. The filling will thicken more as it cools.
03 Prepare the crumb topping by combining the light and dark brown sugar, flour and quick-rolled oats in a medium bowl. Using a pastry blender, cut in the softened butter until the topping resembles coarse crumbs and set aside for later.
04 To create the crust sift the flour, baking powder, salt and granulated sugar into a medium sized bowl. Using a pastry blender, cut in the shortening until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Continue to cut the mixture as you add the ice-cold water 1 tablespoon at a time. The dough is ready when you can pinch it and it holds together. Note that too much water will make the dough tough, so you may not need to use full ½ cup of ice-cold water.
05 Gently shape your dough mixture into two disks. Work the dough just enough to form the disks, but do not over-knead the dough. If you see little bits of shortening in the dough, no worries! This will allow the crust to be flaky.
06 Coat your rolling surface and rolling pin with a light layer of flour. Using your rolling pin, roll each disk by starting from the center and rolling outwards. Your dough should be about 1/8 inch thick. Personally, I like my crust a little on the thick side, so feel free to roll the dough to your own liking. Also, as you are rolling out the dough, double check that it is not sticking to the rolling surface. You may need to add a few more sprinkles of flour under the dough if necessary.
07 Once the dough is rolled out, use a 3-inch round-scalloped edge cookie cutter to cut out each mini pie crust. If needed, a spatula can be used to help loosen each crust from the rolling surface. Since your mini crusts are cut out with a cookie cutter you will have extra dough left over that can be worked back together and used again to create more mini crusts. Each mini pie crust should then be lightly pressed into a tartlet-baking pan and poked a couple of times with a fork.
08 Lightly beat the egg in a small bowl. With a small pastry brush, lightly brush the inside of each pie crust with egg. If you do not have a pastry brush, you can also use the backside of a spoon to lightly spread the egg on the crust. The egg will act as a barrier between the crust and filling, to keep the crust from getting soggy.
09 Remove your cooled apple filling from the refrigerator and spoon it into each pie crust filling each about half way. Do not over fill, as this will cause bubbling over while baking. Lightly dust each filled mini-pie with a tiny pinch of cinnamon.
10 Sprinkle your already prepared crumb topping over each filled mini-pie.
11 Bake for 30-35 minutes or until each crust has a light golden brown color. Remove pans from oven and allow to cool completely.
12 Before serving drizzle caramel and sprinkle chopped pecan pieces over each mini-pie.
Often times I find myself just throwing different ingredients in a bowl without measuring anything. This can sometimes turn out good, but the downfall is that it’s hard to recreate the same recipe. As I am sharing my recipes with you all, I am doing my best to write everything down as I do it. If you ever have any problems or questions please feel free to let me know and I will do my best to help!