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Stretch your skills with deep-fried mini apple pies
I recently came home from Brown's Orchards pick-your-own loaded with ripe apples. The McIntoshes went into homemade applesauce, but the Honeycrisps I saved for eating and trying out a few recipes.
One of those recipes is for Deep-Fried Apple Pies posted on Food 52. The original called for 10 ounces of puff pastry, and if you're in a hurry or don't enjoy making homemade dough, that's a good choice.
I immediately turned to my favorite recipe for Fast and Easy Puff Pastry from King Arthur Flour. The trick is not to overwork the dough or let it warm up too much. Multiple foldings and a long chill — the recipe calls for at least 30 minutes, but I leave mine in the fridge for two hours — make this pastry dough hold together and puff up brilliantly.
The recipe calls for four Honeycrisps, but remember the amount of filling you get will depend on the size of your apples. I chopped up four monster-sized beauties and had enough filling for 24 deep-fried mini-pies and a couple of tarts.
The pastry recipe will turn out one pound of puff pastry, or about a 12-by-24-inch sheet when rolled out. If you have large apples and you plan to use all of the filling in the deep-fried mini-pies, you'll probably want to make two batches of dough. Or you might double the dough anyway — it makes excellent elephant ears, topped by the apple mixture or just sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar.
The filling calls for bourbon, but you could leave out the alcohol and double the vanilla if you prefer. I used Jim Beam Maple Bourbon, which smells like syrup-covered waffles and heats you up from the inside out.
If you don't have a clip-on thermometer to measure the temperature of the frying oil — I don't — you can test the readiness by standing a wooden spoon upside-down in the pot. If bubbles form around the spoon's handle, your oil is hot enough to fry. (If at any point your frying oil begins to smoke, it's too hot.)
Deep-Fried Mini Apple Pies
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup cold unsalted butter (2 sticks), cut in pats or cubes
1/2 cup sour cream
Stir the flour, salt and baking powder in a mixing bowl.
Work in the butter until the mixture becomes coarse and crumbly. The butter should not be fully incorporated — only mix until the butter breaks into pea-sized pieces.
Stir in the sour cream. Don't expect the dough to hold together yet.
Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface, and knead it a few times with your hands to bring it together.
Pat the dough into a rough log, and roll it into an 8-by-10-inch rectangle.
Dust both sides of the dough with flour.
Starting with a shorter end, fold the dough in three like a business letter.
Flip the dough over and rotate it 90 degrees on your work surface.
Again roll it into an 8-by-10-inch rectangle and fold it in thirds.
Wrap the dough in wax paper or plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes.
While the dough is chilling, make the filling.
4 Granny Smith or Honeycrisp apples, diced
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon bourbon
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 to 3 quarts oil, for frying
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon or ground cardamom
1/4 cup granulated sugar
Heat the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the diced apples, brown sugar and cinnamon. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the apples are caramelized.
Add the bourbon, apple cider vinegar and vanilla, and cook the mixture for another minute.
Remove the skillet from the heat and set it aside.
Retrieve the pastry dough from the fridge and roll it out to 1/4-inch thick. Cut into circles (a 2-1/2-inch biscuit cutter works well).
Heap the apple filling on half of the pastry rounds.
Top the mini pies with the other half of the pastry rounds, stretching as needed to cover the apples.
Crimp the edges with your fingers or the tines of a fork to seal.
Heat a pot of oil to 350 degrees. Using a slotted spoon or deep-frying basket, fry the pies for about 30 seconds on each side. They should turn golden brown.
Place finished mini-pies on a paper-towel-lined baking sheet to drain.
Mix the 1/4 cup sugar and 2 teaspoons of cinnamon or cardamom, and sprinkle the mixture over each mini-pie.
— Reach Mel Barber at email@example.com.