I love making pies during the holidays, but with the stress of trying to make everything, I like to have things I can make ahead. These little pies are great because you can make the filling up to a week in advance, the pie dough two days in advance, and the pie shells a day in advance, then assemble right before you serve. Plus, you don’t have to slice anything, and the pie crusts won’t be soggy. Sounds like a great way to reduce stress if you ask me! Serve as is or with a little pipe of fresh whipped cream.

Makes 12


Pie Crust 

  • 1 ¼ (163 grams) cups all-purpose flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 8 tablespoons (113 grams) cold butter
  • ¼ cup ice water

Apple Pie Filling

  • 1 pound (454 grams) crisp apples (about 2 large)
  • 1½ teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup (54 grams) brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch of ground cloves
  • Pinch of salt
  • ¾ cup water, divided
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch


Make the Pie Crust

  1. In the bowl of a food processor, add the flour and salt and pulse briefly to combine.
  1. Roughly cube the butter and add to the food processor, pulsing until the butter is roughly small pea-sized.
  1. Slowly add the water and mix just until the dough comes together. Gather into a disc, wrap in plastic, and chill for at least one hour.
  1. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough and use a 3 or 4-inch cookie cutter to cut rounds. Lay them in mini tart shells and cut off the excess. Dock the bottoms of the shells with a fork and chill for at least 30 minutes.
  1. When ready to bake the shells, preheat the oven to 375°F. Place the tart shells on a sheet pan and bake for about 25 minutes or until they are set and golden. Allow to cool before filling. If you are assembling later, shells can be baked a day in advance and stored in an airtight container at room temperature.

Make the Pie Filling

  1. Peel, core and chop apples into ½-inch cubes. Drizzle the lemon juice over the apples and toss to coat.
  1. Melt the butter in a large pan over medium heat and add the apples, brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves and salt. Stir and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.
  1. Add the about ½ cup of the water and cook the mixture until the apples soften but still hold their shape, about 5 minutes.
  1. In a small bowl, create a slurry of the cornstarch and remaining water and then add to the apple mixture. It will thicken quite quickly and once it does, turn the heat off and allow the mixture to cool. At this point, you can assemble the pies or store covered in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Assemble the Pies

10. When you’re ready to serve, spoon about 1 to 2 tablespoons of the filling in each tart shell. Serve as is or pipe whipped cream on top.


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AnnMarie Mattila
AnnMarie Mattilahttps://pastryathome.com
AnnMarie Mattila is a writer for Pastry Arts Magazine, as well as a freelance baker and pastry chef in New York. She has a master’s degree in Food Studies from New York University and is also a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education.

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