Thursday, May 17, 2012

Apples for Teacher Pocket Apple Pies

End of year means teacher gifts.  Our school has strict gift guidelines “Gifts which are initiated and made by the students themselves are particularly meaningful... children are encouraged to express their appreciation through … homemade gifts.”  Well here is an idea for you!  My nephew, Kyle, made these for a school project for teacher appreciation week. 

This apple does not fall far from the tree.  Kyle’s dad is the Culinary R&D Chef at Maggiano’s and his mom is a talented baker who has not caved to my pleas to open a bakery.  Perhaps we can convince both of them to submit a recipe too!  End your teacher’s year on a sweet note with these yummy apple pies!  I am in awe of teachers and respect their dedication and passion to our kids.  I wish that I had a job in which I impacted so many lives.  There have been many special teachers in my life.  To all teachers out there, THANK YOU!

Pie Crust:
Chef Kyle with Pocket Apple Pie
1.      2 ½ cups all purpose flour 
2.      1 t salt
3.      2 T granulated sugar
4.      2 sticks (1 C) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½ inch dice
5.      6-8 T ice water
1.      Pre-made pie crusts like by Pillsbury, located in the refrigerated section

Apple filling:
Pocket Apple Pies
1.      1 ½ lb. Granny Smith (Pink Lady or McIntosh can be used) apples, peeled, cored and cut into ½ inch dice (about 3-4 medium sized apples)
2.      1/3 C firmly packed light brown sugar
3.      1 t vanilla extract
4.      ¼ t ground cinnamon 
5.      1/8 t salt
6.      1/8 t nutmeg
7.      2 t cornstarch
8.      2 T unsalted butter
9.      1 ½ t fresh lemon juice

1.      1 egg, lightly beaten + 1 t water
2.      Sugar for sprinkling

Pie crust from scratch:  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat together the flour, salt and the 2 tablespoons sugar on low speed until combined, about 10 seconds.  Add the butter and beat for 30 seconds, then increase the speed to medium-low and beat until the mixture resembles coarse meal, about 1 ½ minutes more.  Add the 6 tablespoons ice water, reduce the speed to low and beat for 20 seconds.  The dough should hold together when squeezed with your fingers but should not be sticky.  If is is crumbly, add more water, 1 teaspoon at a time, beating for 5 seconds after each addition.  Turn the dough out onto a work surface.  Divide the dough in half, wrap in plastic wrap and shape into a disc.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to overnight.

In a large bowl, stir together the apples, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg and cornstarch.  In a large sauce pan over medium heat, melt the butter.  Add the apple mixture, cover and cook, stirring occasionally until the apples are just tender but not mushy, 16 to 18 minutes (mine took about 10 minutes – it will depend on the size of your apple pieces).  Remove from the heat, stir in the lemon juice and let cool for 30 minutes.

Let dough stand at room temperature for 5 minutes.  On a floured surface, roll dough out into a round 3/16 inch thick.  Brush off excess flour.  Using an apple pocket pie mold, cut out 8 of each shape (4 solid and 4 with the decorative cutout).  Reroll the dough scraps, if necessary, and cut out more shapes.  Repeat with the remaining dough disc.

Place a solid dough shape in the bottom half of the cutter and gently press the dough into the mold.  (I did not have a cute apple pocket pie mold so I used a cookie cutter or cup about 3 ½ inches in diameter instead).  Fill the center with 2 tablespoons of the apple filling and brush the edges of the dough with some of the egg wash.  Top with a shape with a decorative cutout.  Press the top half of the cutter down to seal and crimp the edges of the pie.  Remove the pie from the mold and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Repeat with the remaining dough and filling.  Freeze the pies for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Brush the top of the pies with egg wash and sprinkle with the crystallized sugar.  Bake until the crust is golden brown and the filling is gently bubbling, 22 to 24 minutes.  Transfer the pies to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes before serving.   Or serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream! 

Makes 6 - 8 pocket pies.

Recipe adapted from Williams-Sonoma Apple-Cranberry Pocket Pies

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