October 29, 2012 at 4:55 pm
by Paula Chin
We’d never say no to a nice slice of pie—to be perfectly honest, there are times we want to gobble up the whole thing. Wish granted. Whether it’s fruit, custard, cream or meringue, mini-pies baked in ½-pint, oven-safe mason jars are a perfectly portioned treat. Just press the crust into the containers (available at Amazon, Walmart, even your hardware store). Choose a canned filling or whip one up yourself. Come dessert time, there’s no need to cut and serve. “People can grab a jar and dig right in,” says Shaina Olmanson, author of Desserts in Jars: 50 Sweet Treats That Shine. “They’re great for parties.” And your waistline—as long as you eat just one.
Mini Apple Pies
Heat oven to 350° and set out 8 wide-mouth 8 oz jars. Cut out eight 6-inch circles and eight small circles (using jar lid as guide) from 2 boxes refrigerated piecrusts. Press into bottom, up side and over the lip of jars.
In saucepan, melt 8 tbsp butter over medium-high heat. Stir in 1/4 cup all-purpose flour and cook, whisking continuously, until golden brown, 2 minutes. Add 1/4 cup each granulated sugar and brown sugar, 1 tbsp lemon juice, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp nutmeg and 1/8 tsp salt and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and pour over 6 cups peeled, cored and thinly sliced apples and, if desired, 1/2 cup dried cranberries. Toss to coat. Spoon into jars.
Cut small dough circles into strips; weave into lattice and crimp edges. Brush with lightly beaten egg and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Place jars 2 inches apart on large baking sheet. Bake at 350° for 45 to 55 minutes or until golden. Allow to cool.
Blogger Susan Denney shares a favorite recipe, Pumpkin Pie-in-a-Jar. Crazy creative Thanksgiving yum in a jar–that’s what these little pumpkin pies are!
3 boxes Pillsbury® refrigerated pie crusts (6 crusts total)*
12 half-pint, wide-mouth canning jars with lids, washed, dried
2 cans (15 oz each) pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon salt
2 cans (12 oz each) evaporated milk
Makes 12 mini pies
1. Heat oven to 425°F. Unroll 3 pie crusts; cut each into quarters to make 12 quarters total.
2. Place 1 pie crust quarter in each jar, pressing and molding as necessary to fit bottom and sides. Pinch tears together to eliminate any holes.
3. In large bowl, beat pumpkin, sugar, pumpkin pie spice, salt, evaporated milk and eggs with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. To make pouring pumpkin mixture into jars easier, pour mixture into 4-cup glass measuring cup or glass pitcher. Divide mixture evenly among jars.
4. With remaining pie crusts, cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips for lattice tops. Weave strips basket-style on top of pies. With fingers, gently wet top crusts with water. Sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar. Freeze pies 5 minutes to stiffen dough before baking.
5. Place pies on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F; bake 40 minutes longer. Place on cooling racks; cool completely, about 1 hour, before serving.
*You’ll need only 2 boxes of crust if you don’t want top crusts on your pies. Use 3 pie crusts for base crusts and 1 pie crust for mini cookies for the garnish).
From pie crust scraps, cut out cookie shapes using mini cookie cutters. Moisten with water and sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar. Bake at 350°F for 5 minutes or until golden brown. (Watch carefully, as bake time may vary.) To serve, top each cooled mini pie with a dollop of whipped cream and insert a baked mini cookie.
For gift giving, bake mini pies without the top crusts. After baking, cool completely. Then, place 1 baked mini cookie on top of each baked pie before adding the lid. Decorate the jar with ribbon.
Lemon Meringue Pies with a Thyme-Shortbread Crust
Herbed shortbread becomes the crust for this classic lemon meringue pie, adding a bit of a twist on an old favorite. These tiny treats will win the hearts of the lemon lovers in your life.
For the shortbread crusts:
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
For the lemon filling:
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups water
1 cup fresh lemon juice, from about 4 lemons
Grated zest of 4 lemons
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
8 large egg yolks, beaten
For the meringue:
8 large egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
Makes 10 individual lemon meringue pies
1. Make the dough for the crusts: Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes on medium-high speed. Mix together the flour, cornstarch, and thyme in a separate bowl. Add the flour mixture to the butter and mix until incorporated.
2. Have ready eight wide-mouthed 8-ounce jars. Turn out the dough onto a piece of parchment paper. Shape the dough into a long cylinder with a diameter 1/2 inch smaller than the diameter of the jars you are using. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
3. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Slice 1/4-inch slices of dough from the roll and place a slice in the bottom of each jar. Place the jars 2 inches apart on a large baking sheet. Bake the crusts for 10 minutes until just lightly golden. Remove from the oven and set aside.
4. Make the filling: Combine the sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a medium-size saucepan. Mix in the water, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Bring to a boil over medium heat, and stir in the butter until it is melted. Place the egg yolks in a heatproof bowl. Slowly pour 1/2 cup of the lemon mixture into the egg yolks, whisking continuously to temper the eggs. Whisk the egg yolks into the saucepan. Bring to a boil again and continue to cook over medium-high heat until the lemon filling is thick, about 5 minutes. Spoon the filling into the warm jars over the crust.
5. Make the meringue: In a large bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy. Beat in the sugar 1 tablespoon at a time until all is incorporated. Beat at medium-high speed until stiff peaks form. Spoon or pipe the meringue over the lemon filling in the jars, mounding it in the center to create peaks.
6. Place the jars 2 inches apart on a large baking sheet. Bake the pies for 10 minutes, or just until the meringue is golden brown. Remove from the oven, let cool completely, and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. Serve cold.
Excerpted from Desserts in Jars by Shaina Olmanson. Reprinted with permission from The Harvard Common Press.
Have you made mini pies in jars? Share your tips below.
Paula Chin is senior editor at Family Circle magazine.