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Mini Caramel Apple Pie

Did everyone start their Christmas shopping yet, or are you waiting for the Black Friday craziness to end? I am going to try to do most of my shopping online this year to avoid the crowds! Yesterday we went hiking with some friends in Marin County. We got there just in time to see the fog rolling in over the city, check it out:

Today I am doing a little Christmas decorating. In honor of kicking off the holiday season, Organic Valley sent me a coupon to try one of their products. I chose to try their organic butter, since butter is an essential ingredient during the holiday baking season! I baked mini caramel apple pies with it, and they came out delicious!! Remember eating caramel-dipped apples as a kid? Well, combine that with apple pie and you’ve got a caramel apple pie…mmmm. I always prefer to bake mini versions of desserts so we aren’t stuck with a lot left over (although this isn’t always such a bad thing ).

Mini Caramel Apple Pie
 
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Prep time
1 hour
Cook time
25 mins
Total
1 hour 25 mins
 
Type: Dessert
Serves: 4
Ingredients
Crust
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 12 tbsp Organic Valley butter, cubed and chilled
Filling
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp apple juice
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 tbsp Organic Valley butter
  • 12 granny smith apples, peeled and sliced
  • ¼ cup almond liqueur (optional)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ⅛ tsp cardamom
  • ⅛ tsp cloves
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
Topping:
  • ½ cup Organic Valley butter, cubed and chilled
  • 1 cup flour
  • ½ cup brown sugar
Instructions
  1. Combine flour and salt in a large bowl and cut in butter using a pastry blender or fork until crumbly.
  2. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.
  3. To make the topping, add topping ingredients to a large bowl and cut with a pastry blender or fork until crumbly. Set aside.
  4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  5. Whisk together cornstarch and apple juice and set aside.
  6. Melt butter in a small pot over medium heat and add sugar. Stir for 7 minutes, and continue to cook until sugar caramelizes.
  7. Add apple slices to a bowl and coat with spices.
  8. Add the apple slices and cook for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  9. Add vanilla and cornstarch mixture and stir 2 minutes. Let cool.
  10. Roll dough to four 7-inch, ⅛-inch thick rounds and press half into four greased 5-inch pie plates.
  11. Divide the filling among the four pies and top with crumbly topping.
  12. Bake for 25 minutes, until golden brown.
  13. Serve cool or warm with caramel topping.
Makes 4 mini pies
    3.2.2124

Recipe adapted from Organic Valley Caramel Apple Mini Pies

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SALTED CARAMEL STUFFED CHOCOLATE CRINKLE COOKIES

Just like you should probably not grocery shop on an empty stomach… I also am starting to believe you should not surf Pinterest on an empty stomach. Yes? Anyone agree? Is it just me? It could just be me……

Within hours of pinning, these delightful beauties were not only made and ready for our post-dinner dessert, but I was also knee deep in powdered sugar making another batch I could freeze! Yes, they were that good.
My dad makes chocolate crinkles every Christmas… but I feel like I can officially make these myself without any father-copyright infringement because of the whole “caramel stuffing” aspect.
(Mua-hahaha.)
Salted Caramel Stuffed Chocolate Crinkles
Original recipe found here. 
1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. + 2 tbsp. cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
10 tbsp. butter, softened
1 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. packed light-brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 dozen caramels or Rolos, unwrapped caramels, *or in my case, leftover caramel apple sheets:)
coarse salt
1 cup powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix butter and sugars on medium speed until pale and fluffy (about 4 minutes). Add in eggs one at a time, stirring after each addition until combine. Add vanilla. Add in dry ingredients and mix until combined.

Scoop dough out 2 tbsp. at a time and roll into a ball (make sure your hands are floured). Press caramel into the center, sprinkle with a pinch of coarse salt and enclose caramel with cookie dough. Shape into a ball once more and align cookies on Silpat lined or buttered cookie sheets. Bake 11 – 13 minutes.

Allow to cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes. Dip in powdered sugar. Devour.

*Note: I had those circle sheets one uses to wrap around apples- who need apples when you have crinkle dough? I cut them up and just stuck caramel chunks in the cookies. It totally worked:)

 ^^ Cookie balls w/ caramel & salt >> add a little more dough if necessary and roll with floured hands…

CARAMEL APPLE SMOOTHIES

I’m sure you can tell by now that I really love caramel and apples and anything that combines the two somehow!  This recipe is the first time I have tried the two together in a beverage though, and I was a little nervous about trying it.  The results were delicious though and this drink really does taste just like a caramel apple!  
Caramel Apple Smoothies
1 medium sized apple, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup apple juice concentrate
5 tsp. caramel ice cream topping
7 ice cubes 
Blend all ingredients together in a blender until smooth.  Serve immediately and drizzle with additional caramel if desired.  I have made this recipe a couple of times and have found that if you add 1/2 cup vanilla yogurt, you will get a creamier beverage…either way is delicious.  Enjoy!