Halloween is approaching quickly and if I weren't so terrified of people in masks (*ahem* I'm talking to you stupid clown people), I might celebrate a little more. I love everything about this time of year from the comforting food to the chilly air. I also love everything about Halloween which tends to come as a surprise to most people, minus the scare factor. I do not like being scared, not one bit. I also don't like eating food that looks like brains. I'm sorry, but bloody fingers? You couldn't pay me to eat those. I don't care if it's just dyed white chocolate. All of these ideas are super clever and I admire the creativity that goes into them but if there is a chance spiders will fall out of that cupcake, you can count me out.
I figure I'm not the only one who also feels this way and inspired by that, as well as being pretty pumped for the season we're in, I have a couple of recipes you're going to love. It all starts with these Jack O'Lantern Apple Hand Pies. Yes, they are a labor of love but they're so freaking cute. They're actually pretty simple until you get to the carving part. Just like carving a pumpkin is a labor of love, these faces are as well. If you're short on time or just don't have the patience, feel free to skip that step. Pumpkin Hand Pies are equally just as cute.
Start with your filling. Apples, sugar, spices and everything nice comes together for a gooey, sweet filling that will have everyone licking their fingers. You can use any apples you find on sale but I prefer Macintosh or Gala for baking, Granny Smith if I want a more tart outcome. Prep the filling first because as it cools it will thicken and it will make it much easier to build the pies.
You are more than welcome to use a homemade pie dough, but for the the sake of time and sanity, I suggest store bought dough. Carefully unroll it and use the cookie cutter to create as many pumpkin shapes as possible. Lay half of them on a baking sheet, brush with melted butter and sprinkle with the cinnamon-sugar mixture. On the other half of the pumpkin shapes, you'll carve out faces similar to a Jack o'Lantern. Use a knife with a sharp, thin tip that's easy to handle. You can do the same face or you can mix it up. Do whatever you'd like but be careful not to get too Edward Scissorhands with it. The more dough you cut out, the less cover the filling will have which can cause it to either cook out or cook too much and become more like taffy.
Once you've finished carving out the faces, carefully spoon the filling onto the cutouts you've lined up on the parchment paper. Leave enough room to seal the edges, a half to three-quarters of an inch should be enough space but fully assemble the first one or two to feel it out. Use a fork to seal the edges or the flat side of a knife. You want to prevent any leakage whatsoever, especially since the carved faces expose the filling as it is. Brush the tops of the pies with butter and sprinkle lightly with more cinnamon-sugar to caramelize the crust. Pop them in the oven and you're just about done! Let me know what you think and if you try these for yourself. Mix it up and use other Halloween cookie cutters too if you'd like.
JACK O'LANTERN APPLE HAND PIES
2 packages of Store-Bought Pie Dough
1 stick of Butter, melted
1.5 tsp Cinnamon, divided
1/4 cup + 1 tbsp Granulated Sugar, divided
4-6 Apples, peeled and diced
2 tbsp. Brown Sugar
1/4 tsp. Nutmeg
1/2 tsp. Ground Cloves or Allspice
1 .Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a medium saucepan, mix together apples, 1 tablespoon of the granulated sugar, brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of the cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice. Cook over a low heat until the apples are tender and mixture becomes thick and syrupy. Set aside.
3. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small saucepan. In a small bowl, mix together the remaining cinnamon and sugar. Using a pumpkin cookie cutter, cut out about 12 pumpkins per sheet of dough. Place 12 pumpkin cutouts on the parchment paper. Using a pastry brush, rub them with butter and sprinkle with the cinnamon-sugar.
4. On the other pumpkin cutouts, use a pastry knife or other thin knife to carve out Jack o'Lantern faces. Fill the sugared halves with the apple mixture making sure to leave about 1/2-3/4 of an inch to seal the edges. Carefully place the carved pumpkin cutouts over the apple filling, and seal the edges of the dough with a fork.
5. Brush the top of the pies with butter and sprinkle lightly with the cinnamon-sugar for a caramelized crust. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown and the inside is bubbly. Let cool before serving.
**Notes: See above photos for step-by-step visuals. If you don't have the patience to carve out the Jack o'Lantern faces or you're simply running short on time, skip them and simply make mini pumpkin hand pies! See below.
Makes 24 hand pies