Sunday, February 12, 2012

Mini Fruit Pies

My family’s favorite all-time dessert, hands down, is pie. Sometimes, though, “we” can’t seem to decide on what type of fruit pie “I” should make. That’s when I like to make mini fruit pies. I make them in individual 6-ounce sized Pyrex custard cups. That way you can make more than one variety. If you don’t have baking cups or ramekins, you can also use muffin tins.

I use this crust recipe:

2 1/3 cups unbleached white flour
1 tsp. salt
6 T. unsalted butter (straight out of the fridge so it's very cold)
2/3 cup vegetable shortening (frozen)
5-6 T. cold water

Sift flour and salt into a mixing bowl. Using your fingers or a pastry blender, cut in butter and Crisco until the mixture resembles coarse meal. (If there are some pea-sized pieces of shortening or butter in the mixture, that is fine.) Sprinkle water on top of flour and salt mixture, 1 tablespoon at a time. After each sprinkling of water, gently mix in the water drops with some of the dry mixture. After 5 tablespoons of water has been sprinkled in, the mixture should hold together in a ball. If it doesn't, sprinkle one more tablespoon worth of water onto the dough. Shape dough into 16 equal-sized balls. Roll 8 of the dough balls into circles about 5 inches in diameter. Place these circles into the bottoms of 8 baking ramekins or muffin tins. The other 8 dough balls will be used to make the top crusts.

Next, make the filling. Here are the ingredients needed for the filling:

4 cups frozen blueberries, blackberries, raspberries or peaches, thawed slightly
1 cup granulated sugar (preferably ultra-fine or Baker’s Sugar)
4 T (heaping!) all-purpose flour
1 tsp. lemon juice
3 T. butter, cut into small pieces

Usually, I’ve always got a variety of frozen fruit in the freezer. The recipe I use calls for 4 cups total of frozen fruit. So I might make four different varieties of fruit tarts, using 1 cup each of blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and peaches. I’ll get out four small mixing bowls, and put a different type of fruit in each. Then I’ll divide up the sugar, flour and lemon juice among the among the four bowls. Each small bowl of fruit will make 2 tarts. Put the filling in each of the bottom crusts. Then dot the butter on top of the 8 mini pies.

Next, roll out the other 8 dough balls into circles about 4 inches in diameter. Dampen the rim of the bottom crusts slightly with water to seal on the top crusts. If desired, you can make out a small cut-out in the top crust. Or, you can just cut out a slit on top to allow the steam to escape. You may also make a woven crust, or top the pie with a crumb topping (the topping I used in Friday’s strawberry rhubarb crisp works great; you’ll just need to cut down the amount of the recipe you make based on how many mini pies you are topping).

Bake the pies in a 375 degree oven for 20-25 minutes—until crust is golden and filling is bubbly. These pies are wonderful right out of the oven with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

What I really like about these pies is you can make them up ahead of time, wrap them in plastic wrap, and then freeze them for a month or two. You would just need to thaw them in the refrigerator 12 hours or so before baking.


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