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Helpful Kitchen Items:
Caramel Apple Mini Pies
- 8 large Granny Smith apples peeled, cored & cut into small chunks [to equal 8 cups]
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2-3 tsp ground cinnamon [more or less to your taste]
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/2 cup [1 stick] butter
- 1 cup light brown sugar packed
- 1/4 cup cornstarch [*see cook's note]
- 2 tsp pure vanilla
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 3  inch pie crusts refrigerated or homemade
- 2 Tbsp butter melted
- 1 cup pecan-shortbread cookie crumbs [i.e.Pecan Sandies]
- Peel, core and chop the apples into small chunks. [about 1/2 inch]
- Place into a bowl. Toss with lemon juice, granulated sugar, cinnamon, sea salt and nutmeg. Set aside.
- In a heavy bottomed saucepan, melt together the butter and brown sugar. Allow to bubble for 3 minutes, stirring constantly.
- Add the apples. Simmer uncovered for 15 minutes until the apples are fork tender and the apples have released their juices. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.
- Mix the cornstarch with just enough water to allow it to completely dissolve.
- Increase the burner temperature and bring the apples to a boil. Drizzle the cornstarch "slurry" into the apples. Cook, stirring constantly, until thickened.
- Remove from the heat and stir in pure vanilla and heavy cream. Cool completely. [The filling can be prepared and stored tightly covered in the refrigerator up to 3 days in advance]
- To assemble: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spritz 16 standard cupcake/muffin cups with baking spray.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pie crusts. Use a cookie cutter to cut the pie crusts into 4 1/2 inch rounds. Re-roll the pastry as needed.
- Press one round into each muffin tin.
- Divide the caramel-apple filling between the pastry shells. [Depending on how you divide the filling, you may be able to yield as many as 18 mini pies.]
- Mix together the topping ingredients and sprinkle on top.
- Place into the oven and bake for 35-38 minutes until the top is golden and the filling is bubbly. [These pies are deliciously "juicy" so place onto aluminum foil or a cookie sheet to catch drips.] Cool in the pan for 1 hour before attempting to carefully remove to a wire rack.
- Serve warm or at room temperature with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
When making these pies, the amount of cornstarch needed to thicken the filling can vary. It depends on the apples themselves, or how vigorously you allow the mixture to boil and how much liquid evaporates while cooking. Start with 2 Tbsp of cornstarch using more as needed to thicken the caramel sauce depending on the amount of juice left in the pan.