I am always amazed at the variety of new and interesting apples that seem to appear every Fall. This year, a real stunner was the wine crisp apple—a deep and complexly flavored apple, seemingly inspired by the unstoppable honey-crisp apple. I created a decadent apple butter that contains five pounds of apples and a full cup of real maple syrup. These delectable hand pies are sweet, tart, spicy and typically autumnal. The apple butter is incredibly easy to make in a slow-cooker overnight, and the smell that will greet you in the morning is sublime.
- Perfect Pie Crust
- 5 pounds of peeled and cored apples of your choosing—make sure there are enough baking apples to keep interest, flavor and structure. I love Cortlands.
- 1 cup real maple syrup
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 2 dried star anise
- Freshly-squeezed juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground allspice
- 3/4 fresh nutmeg, grated
- Pinch of kosher salt
For The Top
3 Tablespoons sugar and 1 Tablespoon cinnamon
1 Egg beaten with half and half or heavy cream
- Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker and set on high. Cook for 1.5–2.5 hours or until bubbling.
- Remove the cinnamon stick and star anise—cook with the lid cracked on medium for 12 + hours until the mixture is dense and dark brown.
- Allow the mixture to cool. Once cooled, place in a gallon freezer bag and place in the freezer for 20–40 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Meanwhile, roll out the dough in equal parts powered sugar and flour, and cut circles with a biscuit cutter. I tend to like a larger, 4” cutter, but for these, an even larger biscuit cutter will work.
- Snip the edge of the gallon plastic bag pipe the mixture generously in the middle of each rolled-out disc, fold over, seal with a slightly damp fork and slice breathing holes in the top. Put them in the refrigerator, and let them firm up for 10–15 minutes.
- Cover with egg wash and cinnamon-sugar mixture.
- Bake for 12 minutes, rotate the sheets in the oven, and bake another 10–12 minutes or until golden brown.
- Cool the pies to room temperature in a wire rack, and serve!