I am not a huge fan of apple pie. You are probably wondering where this is going.
We usually have a few different dessert options after our Thanksgiving meal. Pumpkin pie and pecan pie are the usual winners for me. Sometimes we have apple pie, but our apple dessert is usually reserved for the apple cake we always have for my mom’s birthday in the days following Thanksgiving.
When Will and I were dating, and since we have been married, we have switched off where we spend the November holiday. The first time I spent Thanksgiving with his family, his mom taught me how to make apple dumplings. They look time-intensive, but they are SO easy. I was shocked at how delicious they were for the amount of (or lack of) work we put into them. They were such an improvement over apple pie, and way easier to make. When I was thinking about desserts to make for Thanksgiving, those delicious dumplings came to mind.
Typically each person gets a dumpling, which is an entire apple, but sometimes you want less after a big dinner, or you want more because they are so delicious. Enter apple hand pies with bourbon sauce.
These hand pies are the perfect miniature dessert for the holidays. You can cut the dough however large or small you want, fill with half the filling and fold in half if you want a smaller version, or eat more than one if you are still riding the dessert train after trying one. You can present them for a fancy dinner with a drizzle of sauce, a china dessert plate and a fork, or serve them casually with a gravy boat of self-serve sauce and the option to take their title of “hand pie” seriously.
The best part about them is how quickly and easily you can make them. They can be made in advance from ingredients you probably have lying around, but they are also easy enough to make the day of the big meal. You can give the recipe and ingredients to that relative lingering in the kitchen to keep them busy; they won’t be able to mess them up. If you have time to make homemade pie crust, great! If not, join the rest of America in our Thanksgiving haste and pull out that premade crust in the freezer that you keep around for just these occasions and cut away (that is normal, right?). Don’t have a round cookie cutter? No worries; cut the dough with the rim of a glass. You got this – bring it on, Thanksgiving.
The crisp, tart Granny Smith apples transform to soft, sweet apple filling when the butter and spices melt into them in the oven. Surrounded by flakey, buttery pie crust, they melt in your mouth. The bourbon sauce is optional, but your guests will thank you. Add some vanilla ice cream and/or the cinnamon whipped cream that we talked about last week for good measure. A drizzle and a scoop and you’re in business. Easiest Thanksgiving dessert ever.
Take the stress out of the day and make these easy, delicious apple hand pies with bourbon sauce to go with your Thanksgiving meal this year. A little extra bourbon sauce never hurt ;)
Apple Hand Pies with Bourbon Sauce
Apple Hand Pies
2 pie crusts (homemade from this recipe, or store bought)
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and cored
4 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
a pinch of sea salt
a few tablespoons of butter
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon cream
Flour, for dusting the cutting board
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 egg yolks
1 cup packed dark-brown sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup bourbon
Apple Hand Pies
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Cut the apples in thin slices or rings and set aside.
In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and sea salt.
In another small bowl, beat the egg and cream together and set aside.
On a floured surface, roll out the pie crust and use a cookie cutter to cut as many circles out of the dough as you can. You can use the dough scraps to cut out leaves to decorate the top of the pies. Place apple slices on top of half of the dough circles. Top the apples with about a teaspoon of the sugar-spice mixture and a small pat of butter. Brush the edges of the apple-topped dough circles with the egg wash. Stretch the rest of the dough circles a bit (so they are able to cover the filling), place them on top of the apple, spice and butter-topped dough, and press the edges into the egg-washed edges of the bottom dough circles. Press a fork around the edges of the dough. Brush the tops of the pies with the remaining egg wash and place pie dough leave on top (if you have them). Cut a few small slits in the tops of the pies, to allow steam to escape.
Place the unbaked hand pies in the fridge for 10 minutes if the dough has warmed up during assembly. You want the dough to be chilled when the pies go in the oven.
Cook the hand pies for about 15-20 minutes (depending how big your pies are), or until golden. Allow the pies to cool on the tray for about 10 minutes.
While the apple hand pies are cooking, make the bourbon sauce.
In the bottom of a double boiler or in a small pot, bring water to a simmer. Place the butter, egg yolks, brown sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and bourbon in the top of a double boiler or a heatproof bowl. Heat the mixture, whisking constantly for about 7 minutes.
Serve right away, pouring bourbon sauce over the hand pies just before serving. If you plan to serve them later, let the pies fully cool and refrigerate. You can heat them back up in the microwave or in a warm oven before you serve them. Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or some cinnamon whipped cream from last week.
Bourbon sauce slightly adapted from Martha Stewart.