Embrace the flavors of fall with these irresistible Caramel Apple Hand Pies. They’re the perfect way to satisfy your sweet tooth while savoring the season’s finest apples.
Ah, September – the time of year when the air gets crisper, the leaves start turning, and apple season is in full swing. I always look forward to this time of year because it marks the beginning of baking season. Homemade apple pie is first on my baking list, but this year I’m taking the apple love to the next level with a sweet hand-held treat: Caramel Apple Hand Pies. They’re like tiny packages of fall goodness, perfectly portioned for a snack or dessert on the go.
Choosing the right apples.
Let’s talk apples. For most apple pie recipes, and certainly apple hand pie recipes, I prefer Granny Smith apples. Why, you ask? Well, Granny Smith apples are known for their tartness and firm, dry texture, which makes them ideal for baking. They don’t give off much juice, so that means no soggy pie bottoms. They hold their shape beautifully even after spending some time in the oven. Plus, they add a nice contrast to the sweetness of the caramel.
Making the apple pie filling.
The apple pie filling is surprisingly simple to make, but you will do some work breaking down the apples. Start by peeling, coring, and dicing 3 lbs. Granny Smith apples into small even pieces (slightly larger than 1/4 inch pieces). This step is crucial because a uniform dice ensures that your pies cook evenly.
Once you’ve got your apples ready, toss them in a big saucepan with some lemon juice, butter, sugar, and apple pie spice. This mixture strikes a lovely balance between sweet and tangy. Cook on the stovetop until the apples soften slightly, and most of the juices cook off. It should be a fairly dry mixture.
Let the apple filling cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for about an hour or overnight. Chilling it helps keep the hand pie crusts cold, so they keep their shape while you’re filling them.
A new gadget – mini lattice pie molds!
The lattice pie mold is what sets these hand pies apart and gives them that bakery-made look. They are from Williams Sonoma and there are three styles in the box. However, I just used the circle lattice cutter for these pies.
Now. You could totally forgo the mold and opt for the folded circle & fork crimp method, but if you’re interested in these lattice-style cutie pies – read on. As with any new gadget, there was a learning curve. So, I’m reporting my tips here so you’ll have an edge before you begin!
A few tips for success.
Roll out your pie dough (store-bought or homemade – your choice) slightly thicker than the standard 1/8″ thickness, and cut it into circles. The lattice crust needs a little extra heft to hold together during baking. The outside of the mold actually works like a cookie cutter and cuts the bottom plain round crust, and the top round lattice crust.
Cut the pie dough while it is cold. You may want to roll it out between parchment, refrigerate, and then cut. Cold dough will remove easier from the lattice cutter, which you will have to gently coax out using a toothpick to one side of the edge.
Use a toothpick to quickly remove the little diamond pieces of lattice dough from the mold. As I picked them all out they threaded on the tooth pick, and I added them back to the re-roll scraps of pie dough.
Assemble the pies.
First, add a little prepared caramel to the bottom pie crust. Spread it around on the crust using a spoon within 1/2 inch of the edge of the pie. Use your favorite store-bought brand of caramel, or if you have homemade ready to hand – all the better!
Fill – but don’t overfill!
Add 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons of the apple filing on top of the caramel. It’s important to not overfill the crust, because the lattice top will burst with the bubbling filling. Brush some egg wash around the edge of the crust before you add the top crust.
No doubt about it – the mold makes a gorgeous little pie! After your hand pies are prepped and looking absolutely adorable, transfer them to the refrigerator to chill for about 30 minutes. This will help the lattice keep its shape during baking.
Transfer the chilled pies to baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Brush the tops with an egg wash for a beautiful golden finish. Then, pop them into a preheated oven at 350°F and bake for about 25-27 minutes, or until they’re well browned.
These little pies are lovely on their own, and believe it or not – they are not overly sweet! That’s due to the tart Granny Smith apple filling. They taste just fine on their own, but I think they are best served with an accompaniment. We love them served warm with a scoop of ice cream.
And! Even though these pies already have caramel inside, a little pot of caramel dipping sauce on the side is totally appropriate. Sprinkle with a little flake sea salt – it’s too good!
So, the next time you find yourself with a bunch of Granny Smith apples and a craving for something sweet, give these Caramel Apple Hand Pies a try. They’re the perfect embodiment of fall in every bite – a little tart, a little sweet, and a whole lot of deliciousness. Happy baking, and happy apple season!
Related recipe: Peanut Butter and Jelly Hand Pies
Caramel Apple Hand Pies
- parchment paper
- Pastry brush
- 3 pounds Granny Smith Apples cored, peeled, and diced to 1/4″
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons apple pie spice
- Pinch of salt
- 4 pie crusts store-bought or homemade
- 1/2 cup prepared caramel sauce such as Torani caramel sauce plus more for serving
- 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water
- Toss the apples with the lemon juice in a large bowl. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the apples, sugar, apple pie spice, and salt. Stir together and cook until the sugar is melted and the apples have softened slightly, about 7 minutes. The mixture should be fairly dry and any liquid should be syrupy and clinging to the apples. If mixture seems wet, cook another 2 minutes until dry.
- Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and cool, uncovered, to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour or overnight.
- Roll out cold pie dough on a lightly floured surface to slightly greater than 1/8-inch thickness. Using back of the pie mold, cut lattice top rounds; as you cut, pick out the diamond shapes from the mold using a toothpick. Gently coax the lattice tops out of the mold using a toothpick and your fingers to remove it. Reroll dough scraps and cut bottom crusts. Refrigerate if dough begins to get warm and floppy (dough will cut easier if it’s cold).
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- Place a bottom crust into the pie mold. Add about 2 teaspoons caramel and spread over the bottom of the crust using a spoon within 1/2 inch of the pie crust edge. Fill the pie with about 2 tablespoons of the chilled apple filling.
- Brush the edges with some of the beaten egg and water mixture. Lay a lattice top over the filled crust and hinge the mold closed and press lightly to seal.
- Remove pie to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with remaining caramel, pie crusts, and egg wash. Refrigerate pies for 30 minutes. Using a pastry brush, coat the tops of the pies with the egg wash.
- Bake the pies for 25 to 27 minutes, or until they are golden brown and fragrant. Remove pies to a wire rack to cool slightly.
- Serve pies warm. They are lovely as-is, but our favorite way to eat them is with a scoop of ice cream. They are also wonderful with a side of caramel dipping sauce sprinkled with flake sea salt.