Monday, March 26, 2012
You all are going to love these! Little tiny pies on a stick. What's not to love?
First, I apologize for the long delay in writing a post here. I've been a bit distracted, and possibly a little overcommitted, lately. Oh, and a two-week bout with the flu/sinus infection/ear infections had me completely out for awhile. I was sick for so long that we actually ran out of sweets in my house! For those of you who really know me, you know that almost NEVER happens! I have several projects to post in the next couple of weeks; hopefully that will make it up to you!
Back to the pie pops...
I wish this was my original idea, but I actually saw it on the web once upon a time. Sadly, I don't remember where I saw them or who had done them, so I can't give proper credit for the basic idea. The technique and recipes are all mine, though.
It was February when I made these, so I decided to shape them into hearts for Valentine's Day. It worked fantastically! (I'm not sure that is a real word. If it's not, it should be!)
So, here is how you do it. Grab your favorite cookie cutter. Make sure it is big enough to hold filling with a space for sealing around the edge. My heart cutter is about 2 inches wide and maybe 2.5 inches long (top to bottom). You could use different cutters for different holidays or events. Endless possibilities!
You will also need sucker sticks for these to make them into the "pops." You can find these at stores like Michael's, JoAnn's, or Hobby Lobby. Just look in the candy-making section with all of the candy melts and molds. If you can't find them or are just too anxious to try this to run out to the store, you can make these without the sticks. Of course, then they won't be "pops" but just little hand pies. But that would be wonderful, too! Something totally worth making!
Now, grab your favorite pie crust recipe. Now, you know I'm all about baking from scratch and, honestly, pie crust is super easy if you have good instructions to follow. Oh, and I happen to have some good instructions for you right here! :) (Just scroll down to the recipe and follow the first part. No need to make the berry filling for these little pie pops, though you could certainly try it.) But if you are really short on time or simply don't feel like messing with the dough, go ahead and buy some from your local grocery store, unroll it and cut away. I won't tell. They will still be amazing!
Prepare and roll out your dough. Cut your shapes with your cutter dipped in flour so that it won't stick. Place the cut-outs on a very lightly floured piece of parchment paper. Re-roll your dough as necessary. Try to get as many pieces cut as you possibly can each time you roll it out. The more you roll, or mess with your dough in general, the tougher the crust will get. So try to handle it as little as possible.
Now you are ready to fill! You will need two of your pieces per pie pop. Take one and very gently press a sucker stick into the dough. You want the top of the stick to be in the middle of your pop. You should have around 1 inch of the stick inside the pop with the rest sticking out of the bottom.
Now spoon on a little of your favorite jam (I used strawberry for some and blueberry for a couple). Mine could hold only about a teaspoon of the jam. You want to make sure the filling will be totally contained on your dough pieces with about a quarter inch of room at the edges to seal it all together.
This one had too much filling. Can you tell? It wanted to squeeze out when I added the top piece of dough. If that happens to you, simple remove some of the filling with a spoon and wipe off the edges as well as you can. Then try again with that top piece of dough. No one will ever know you had a bit of trouble with it.
Now cover the whole thing with a second dough cut-out. Line it up exactly, being careful not to press the filling out to the edges. Press gently around the edges with your finger. Take a fork and press the edges of the dough together to seal it completely. Press all around the edges. Place your little pop on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Once your baking sheet is full, place the whole thing in the refrigerator to firm up the butter in the dough before baking. Leave it in there for approximately 15 minutes.
Now would be a good time to preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.
This filling process can be a bit time-consuming, but it's oh so rewarding, too! You can also freeze the dough, so if you don't feel like spending a lot of time filling, or if you just get bored with it (I'm not sure how it's possible to get bored with baked goods and baking!) you can simply wrap the remaining dough tightly in plastic wrap, then wrap in aluminum foil and place in a freezer container or bag. And into the freezer it can go! When you want to use it again, bring it to room temperature before taking it out of the bag, foil, and plastic wrap. Then roll as normal! Easy!
Back to the ones you've made. After they've had a good chill, pull them out and make yourself a little egg wash. That's just one egg whisked with about a tablespoon of water. The egg wash will help to make your pops a perfect golden brown color and also acts as the glue that holds the sugar onto the pops. I also used a little egg wash to help the stick stay in the pop and to seal the edges of the pops while assembling them. You can do that too! Take a pastry brush and brush the tops of each of your pops with a thin coating of the egg wash. Immediately sprinkle on some coarse sugar in whatever color you like. I used red for my strawberry pops and white for my apple pops.
Oh, you noticed that I said "apple"? But I haven't given any instructions for apple! *Gasp*
Okay, this is the best, in my opinion. The apple pie pops. A little more involved than the jam, but very worth it. Finely dice a small apple and mix in some cinnamon, nutmeg and a pinch of salt. Saute the mixture in a little butter until the apples are just tender, but not too soft. You want them to be the apple equivalent of al dente, with a little "bite" in the center, or they will turn to mush inside the pops when you bake them later on.
After the apples are tender, put them in a bowl and mix in some flour and, for sour apples, a little brown sugar. Voila! Your apple filling is complete and ready to use in your pie pops! Because this is filling is more firm than jam, you can use a little more. It won't squish out the sides of the pops as readily as the super soft jam. I used a tablespoon of the apple filling in each of the apple pie pops. Fill and seal the pops just like the ones made with jam.
This may sound like a lot, but really it isn't all that precise. So, have fun with it! Play around with flavors and fillings. Then be sure to let me know what you come up with!
When your pops are all ready, bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the pops are golden brown. Remove with a spatula to a cooling rack to cool. You can use the stick to pick them up after they are cool. If you try to use the stick too soon, your pop will fall.
You will have to imagine a beautiful picture of all of my little pie pops all together, maybe standing up in a cute little vase, or arranged on a plate. Somehow I missed that picture. I thought I had taken one, but alas, I cannot find one anywhere. It is very likely that the picture in your imagination is better than anything I could have taken anyway!
These are really fun, so I hope you try them! Enjoy!
Simple Pie Dough
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
A pinch of salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
1/4-1/3 cup ice-cold water
Whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt. Add the butter and cut it together with a pastry blender, a fork, or two knives until it is mixed and the butter has formed pea-sized balls. Add water a little at a time and blend in by stirring with a fork. When the dough is moistened enough to hold together when squeezed, but not so moist that it comes together in a ball around your fork, it is done. Turn it out onto parchment or a floured surface and shape into a ball. Chill briefly before rolling out between two pieces of parchment until it is approximately 1/4-inch thick. Cut into shapes for your pie pops! Bake your pops at 375 degrees F. for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.
Apple Pie Filling for Pie Pops
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 apple, finely diced
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
A pinch of salt
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon brown sugar (optional)
Heat a saute pan over medium-low heat. Add butter and melt. Add apples, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Stir and saute until apples are just tender (not too soft). Remove from heat to a medium bowl. Stir in the flour and, if using a tart apple like granny smith, the brown sugar. Cool to room temperature before using in your pops.