12 October 2011

not just for jam anymore

I've had a lot of free time on my hands lately.  A lot of free time.  I wish I could say that I've been really productive with this time and that I've gotten a lot of work done or that I've read a bunch of books on my reading list or that I learned a new language or something.  But I haven't done any of that.  Instead, I've been taking advantage of the free cable by gorging on food channels and cooking shows while simultaneously perusing the internet for new foodie blogs to read or recipes to try out.  Not a complete waste of time because when I came across these tiny pies on Serious Eats the other day, I was truly inspired.  How adorable would it be to serve everyone their own little personal pie in a Mason jar?  I love Mason jars and I love pies so it seemed like a totally natural combination.  Plus, I've been itching to make a pie from scratch lately; can you believe I've never done that?  Well I almost did it this weekend.

Since I went a bit nuts baking and cooking up a storm this weekend, my mom convinced me to cheat and take the easy road for my pie crust by buying the already prepared kind from the grocery store.  Though I complained and whined about how wrong it is to cut corners, I'm kind of glad we did because being back in the kitchen the way I was the past few days really wore me out.  And we all know how important the pie crust is to the overall yumminess of the pie, so it would be pretty awful if I ruined the crust because that would ruin the entire pie since it's so itty bity.  So I succumbed to my mom's advice regarding the prepared crust and focused all my energy on the filling.  I've always been a huge fan of apple pies and since it's apple season, what better pie to bake than a warm, cinnamon-y apple pie?  So off we went to pick up a variety of apples because the more the merrier, and we came home with Granny Smith, Honey Crisp and Empire apples.

Now, I have major plans for an ultimate apple pie but the time isn't right for that yet so I had do a little research with an ancient copy of The New McCall's Cook Book for perfect apple pies but it just didn't seem to be what I wanted.  I remember being a kid and walking around the corner to buy those mini French Apple Pies that had plump, sweet raisins in them and how much I loved them.  But I had just made oatmeal raisin cookies the previous night and didn't want to use raisins again so I chose to go with a similar but more seasonal fruit - cranberries!  With my filling planned, I started lining seven Mason jars of various sizes with crust before figuring out that I had run out and wouldn't have any to top the jars with.  No worries because aside from my love of French apple pies, I also have a fondness for the sweet and crumbly topping of a traditional Dutch apple pie.  For something so all-American, this was starting to get awfully international.  But this globetrotting recipe turned out to be a huge hit, even with the biggest apple pie critic I know - my dad.  He loved it and even called me today to tell me that it was even tastier the next day after the ingredients had marinated a bit.  Me and my mom liked it a la mode with the new Sweet Chai Tea ice cream from Haagen Dazs for a little extra kick of Autumnal spice!

mason jar cranapple pies
8 c apples, peeled and chopped into small chunks
1 - 1 1/2 c dried cranberries (use as much or as little as you want)
2/3 c sugar
2 tsp fresh ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 c plus 2 tbsp flour
1/2 c packed brown sugar
1/4 butter, room temp
rolled pie crust (homemade or store bought, whatever's easier)
1. Preheat oven to 425.  Line shallow jars (7-10 depending on depth and size) with pie crust up to the lip and set aside.
2. In a large bowl, toss together apples, cranberries, granulated sugar, lemon juice, 2, tbsp flour, 1 tsp cinnamon and 1/4 tsp nutmeg.    Scoop into lined jars being mindful of any gaps or wholes that might not have any apples; the shape of some jars makes filling them kind of like doing a puzzle.
3. In a separate bowl combine remaining cinnamon and nutmeg with flour and brown sugar, blending with a fork until it it well combined and looks crumbly.  Evenly top each pie with the streusel topping filling the jar to the top.
4. Place all the jars on a baking sheet and bake for about 15-20 minutes or until the pie crust starts to look golden brown.  Let cool before serving because the filling will be super hot.  Serve each jar individually, on its own or a la mode with a scoop of chai ice cream and enjoy!

How perfectly adorable are these?!  Beyond a sweet and delicious dessert for the people you love, I can think of a few other uses for these little cuties.  Wouldn't they make wonderful place holders or seat markers at a dinner party?  You could put each guest's name on the lids (oh yeah, make sure you don't overstuff the jars so that you can put the lids on them for storage,) and put them at everyone's assigned seats.  You could freeze them before baking them and give them as gifts around the holidays, or give them fully baked as a hostess gift the next time someone invites you to a dinner party.  You might want to be careful when giving them as hostess gifts though because that gal might ask you to bring dessert to her next dinner party, so you'd better be prepared.  Or how about favors for a wedding or a shower?  They could be seasonal and local for the time and place of the event - cherry or strawberry rhubarb in the Spring, berries or peaches for Summer, pumpkin or pecan for Winter.  I can just imagine an idyllic Autumn wedding on a rustic orchard with teeny tiny apple pies in Mason jars as favors!  Almost makes me want to get married all over again... almost.  The jars don't necessarily have to be stuffed with pie either.  How about a cobbler or just the filling for future pie preparedness?  The possibilities are endless, always adorably sweet and sure to be a big hit with all the recipients.  What ideas do you have, readers?  How would you make this perfectly personal recipe your own?  How do you plan on dishing it out?  Let me know, I love hearing from you.

No comments:

Post a Comment