There’s just something appealing about an apple hand pie. I think it’s the size and the fact that you can eat it without a fork. We’ve been loving hand pies with raspberries this winter but it’s time to branch out. Someone told me a long time ago to add apple brandy to my apple pie to really enhance the flavor of the apples.
However, I never think about it until I’m actually making apple pie and realize I don’t own any apple brandy. So, the last time I was at the liquor store, I bought a bottle. I don’t know anything about apple brandy so I can’t say if one brand is better than another. It wasn’t very expensive. So with a bottle in hand, I decided I would try it with apple hand pies.
Since I love apples cooked in a skillet, I used a similar technique just with less sugar. Then I divided them into smaller pans and tried adding the apple brandy to one to see if we could really tell the difference. In a blind taste test, we all agreed that the brandy really brought out the flavor of the apples. I tried bourbon in one of the batches but didn’t like it with apples.
I used Fuji apples for my taste test but for the next batch, I used Stemilts’ Piñata®apples. These are similar in taste and crispness to a Honey Crisp but with a sweeter twist. You can find them from November through May. Perfect for your Cinco de Mayo celebration. Maybe not as fun as a real piñata but I’ll take an apple hand pie over candy any day.
How to make baked apple hand pies
Step 1: Apple hand pies are easy to make using a basic pie crust, mine always seem to work better with some apple cider vinegar. For a flaky pie crust use cold water and cold butter. I use a food processor for mine. You can make the pie crust in advance and freeze it until needed.
Step 2: While the crust is cooking make the filling. In a skillet melt butter and add apple chunks and sugar. Cook until softened but not mushy and then adde cinnamon, nutmeg and apple brandy. Add a little cornstarch and cook for another minute, let cool.
Step 3: Roll out the dough until it is 1/8 inch thick then cut into circles. You can make them as big as you want, I prefer a large coffee mug that I use as a pattern for my circles, but a biscuit cutter will also work. We had fun cutting out apple shapes with the leftover dough.
Step 4: Place some apple filling in the center of half of the circles and brush the edges with an egg wash. Place a circle on top and use a fork to press the two circles together. Brush the top with egg wash and cut some slits into the dough to allow the steam to escape. Top with Demerara sugar and bake.
The filling is sweet but not too sweet and the crust is flaky but still strong enough to hold it all together. This will make 8 pretty large hand pies, and while delicious all by themselves, a scoop of ice cream is never a bad idea.
If you miss the window for Piñata®apples, try Fuji, you’ll still get an amazing dessert that everyone will love. What’s great about hand pies is that you don’t have half a pie left over that will get soggy if you don’t eat it right away. With hand pies you can prep them in advance and bake just before serving. If you have leftovers, they freeze great and won’t get soggy! So before we get inundated with fabulous Spring and Summer fruit, enjoy a few more apples in this fabulous dessert.
More APPLE recipes to love
- Apples and mussels
- Apple crumb pie
- Apple pancake
- Apple dumplings
- Apple galette
- Apple salad
- Apple biscuits
- Apple pie bars
- Sausage and apple quiche
- Apple cobbler
- Apple muffins
- Apple spice cake
Apple Hand Pies
- 2 ½ cups flour
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 20 tablespoons butter 2 1/2 sticks chilled
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup ice cold water
- 6 cups apples peeled and chopped into small pieces (3-4 apples)
- 4 tablespoons butter
- pinch salt
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup white sugar
- 3 tablespoons apple brandy
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 egg
- ¼ cup demerara sugar
- CRUST: In a food processor, add flour, sugar and salt and pulse to combine. Add butter, cut into 1 inch pieces, and pulse until it looks like coarse meal with no large chunks remaining. Add vinegar and water and pulse until the dough starts to come together. Place on floured surface and knead until all flour is incorporated, it won’t be smooth. Divide in half and pat into two flat disks about 1 inch thick. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
- FILLING: Peel and core apples and cut into small pieces. Cook butter in a large skillet over medium heat until it just starts to brown. Add apples, salt, and brown and white sugar. Stir to combine and then let cook over medium heat. Stirring only occasionally so they do not get mushy.
- When the apples have softened, about 15 minutes, add cinnamon, nutmeg and apple brandy. Once combined, add cornstarch and cook for about 2 minutes until it is slightly thickened. Remove from heat and let cool.
- Preheat oven to 375º. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Roll both discs of dough onto a lightly floured surface to 1/8 inch thick. Place on the prepared pans and refrigerate for 10 minutes.
- Beat egg with 1 teaspoon of water.
- Cut dough into 16 circles using a 4 1/2 inch biscuit cutter or use a paring knife and cut around a cup that is the size you prefer. Divide the apple mixture among the 8 circles. Brush the edges with the egg wash and top with a circle of dough. Press together with the tines of a fork. Brush the top with the egg wash and then sprinkle with Demarara sugar.
- Cut slits in the top to let the steam escape. Decorate with cut out apples shapes.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown. Let cool slightly before eating.