This morning we woke up to the news that there is a tropical storm (Gonzalo) heading our way to the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, and will possibly turn into a hurricane towards the evening. As a result, it has been raining like crazy on Virgin Gorda, and even though it is still warm outside, with the doors tightly closed and air condition on, it feels like autumn around here.
And for me, autumn means apple pie. I love it when the smell of butter, sugar, and crisp apples cooking together fills the house reminding me of the days that I couldn’t wait to come home from school to beg my mom for a slice of apple pie before dinner. It was always the same scenario. At first, she would say no, thinking that I wouldn’t finish my dinner, but then after I swore that I would, she would let me eat a tiny bitty slice. Even after years, I still remember how good it felt to eat a slice of warm (cinnamon-heavy) apple pie right out of the oven.
But to be perfectly honest, I love apple pie because of its crust. Most of the time, while I am eating a slice of apple pie, I use the filling as a condiment to flavor the crust. Therefore, this year instead of making a traditional apple pie, I decided to make these crust-heavy apple pie cookies. These cookies are deliciously flaky and crisp with just enough filling to flavor the crust. Not to mention, they are perfectly portioned for easy serving.
When I first made this recipe, I realized that it might not be the easiest one to make (and explain in a foolproof way), and therefore I decided not to share it on the blog. But then, when they came out of the oven and I had my first bite, I thought to myself that they are too good to not share. That is why, I practiced a couple of times and photographed my process as much as I could so that I can share with you the lessons I learned along the way.
Here they are:
1. Using a ruler helps a lot:
I think the trickiest part of making these cookies is rolling out the dough. I don’t know you, but I don’t consider myself a pro when it comes to rolling out pie dough perfectly. To be able to make a perfect 12X8 inch rectangle, I used a lightly floured surface and a ruler. The ruler was helpful (1)to guide me as I rolled the dough, (2) to ensure that the dough doesn’t get too thin, and (3) to be able to cut equal strips for a pretty looking lattice top.
2. Chilled dough is much easier to work with:
While you are rolling out the dough, you have to be somewhat quick. Because it gets difficult to manage as it comes down to room temperature. If that happens to you, you can always place it back in the fridge for 10 minutes and then continue from where you left off.
Also, it is a good idea to keep the first rolled-out dough in the fridge while you are working on rolling out the second one (the lattice top).
3. Silpat works like magic, but parchment paper works too:
When I first made these cookies, I used parchment paper and the dough did stick to the parchment paper a little bit. On my second try, I used Silpat and found that it was much easier to work with. Especially, while cutting the big piece of apple pie into smaller (cookie-sized) pieces. It made it easier to arrange (or separate) them on the baking sheet without having to lift them up. However, if you don’t have Silpat, spraying the parchment paper very lightly with vegetable (or butter) spray works as well.
4. It is important for the apple filling to be somewhat cooler:
On my first try, I didn’t time it well and spread the filling before it cooled off. The hot filling affected the flakiness of the crust, which made it too soft instead flaky and crispy. Therefore, for a better end product, I recommend letting the pie-filling cool at least for 30 minutes before spreading it on the dough.
5. Before placing the strips make a map in your mind, and then place them starting from the middle:
On my first try of making these cookies, I didn’t think about how I am going to place the strips, and as a result, I ran out of strips before I was able to completely cover the filling. On my second try, I made a quick map of how I am going to place them in my mind so that they would (1) cover the whole thing, (2) be equally distributed, and (3) look pretty.
Also, starting from the middle is a good idea to help with managing the strips and placing them strategically to ensure that they cover the filling nicely before trimming.
6. I wanted bigger cookies, but you can cut them in smaller pieces:
The original recipe suggested smaller cookies, but I wanted a bigger (3X2.5 inch) cookie so I cut it that way. If you decide to go with smaller cookies, I’d recommend placing them in 2 separate sheets and baking them in 2 batches. Also, make sure to keep the second sheet in the fridge while the first one is baking.
Even though making these cookies takes a little bit of time and effort, I am pretty sure, after your first bite you’ll agree that it was totally worth it.
Apple Pie Cookies
For the Dough:
- 2 1/4 cup 11.25 ounces all-purpose flour
- 13 tablespoons butter cold and cut into 1/4 inch pieces
- 1 1/2 teaspoons + 1 tablespoon granulated sugar divided
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4-5 tablespoons ice water
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 large egg lightly beaten
For the Filling:
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 medium-size Golden Smith apples cut into small cubes
- 1/4 cup 1.75 ounces packed light or dark brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg freshly ground
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- To make the pastry dough, combine the flour, cold butter, 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand in mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix in low speed, for 3 minutes or until butter and flour mixture resembles corn meal.
- While it is still running in low speed, add cold water 1 tablespoon at a time and mix until the dough comes together, 30-45 seconds.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly floured kitchen counter, divide it into 2 pieces and shape them into a 4-inch square. Cover them with plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.
- Combine the rest of the sugar (2 tablespoons) and ground cinnamon in a bowl. Set aside.
- To make the filling: Mix the cornstarch with water and set aside.
- Heat butter in a 10-inch skillet. Add in the apples and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until they turn light golden brown.
- Stir in the brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt, and cook for a minutes. Stir in the cornstarch, and cook for 2 more minutes.
- Set aside to cool.
- Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Roll one of the pastry dough into a 12X8 inch rectangle, 1/4 inch thick, on a lightly floured surface. Place it on a rimmed baking sheet covered with Silpat (read the blog post) or parchment paper. Keep it in the fridge, while you are rolling out the second dough.
- Roll out the second pastry dough into a 12X8 inch rectangle that is 1/4- inch thick, on a lightly floured surface. Using a fluted pastry cutter, cut it into sixteen, 1/2-inch wide and 12-inches long strips.
- Get the first dough out of the fridge and spread the apple mixture, making sure that the whole dough is covered evenly with the mixture. Arrange dough strips diagonally in lattice pattern over filling, trimming as needed. *
- Using a sharp knife, cut it into 12 equal pieces. Space them 1-inch apart from each other. Brush the top of each cookie with egg, and sprinkle them with the cinnamon and sugar mixture.
- Bake for 32-35 minutes in the oven, rotating the baking sheet halfway through baking.
- Let them cool on the baking sheet before serving.
This recipe is adapted (with changes) from CooksCountry.com