Thanksgiving Mini Pie Quartet
Updated: Nov 13
This is what to make when it's a small crew but you want all the pies!
Thanksgiving is normally a time for large family gatherings. The pandemic has made the holiday much smaller, forcing people to pick and choose what they will eat. A family of 2-4 cannot reasonably enjoy three or four regular sized pies - even with leftovers! The solution is this recipe for four miniature pies with all the classic holiday flavors: pumpkin, pecan, apple crumb, and chocolate. The ingredients listed are exact quantities per pie, but the fun part is that, for example, one egg is needed to make all four pies (the measurement for the egg in each pie is in tablespoons). Also, you can bake them more or less at the same time (see time table below). You'll love these mini pies so much that even when it isn't the holidays you can enjoy a bite-sized slice of festive flavor!
Equipment: cutting board; chef's knife; paring knife; food processor with dough blade; rolling pin; fork; dry and wet measuring cups; measuring spoons; small mixing bowls; spoons; small saucepan; small whisk; small rubber spatula; (4) 5-inch pie dishes; parchment paper; rimmed sheet pan; pie weights or dry beans
Baking Time Table
1. Prepare the dough
2. Roll the dough and place in pie dishes
3. Preheat the oven to 425°F
4. Prepare the pumpkin, apple, and pecan fillings
5. Bake the pumpkin pie solo for 10 mins at 425°F
6. Fill the apple and pecan pies
7. Fill the chocolate shell with pie weights
8. Reduce the oven to 350°F
9. Place the apple, pecan, and blind chocolate pie shell in the oven
10. Bake all the pies together for a remaining 25-30 minutes
11. Prepare the ganache and pour in blind baked shell* once cool
* Blind baking is when you bake a pie crust before filling it, as is the case with the chocolate pie recipe. The dough must be weighted with pie weights or dry beans as it bakes to prevent the dough from puffing up, maintaining the proper shape.
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon powdered sugar
pinch of kosher salt
½ cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter
1 tablespoon cold water
By hand: Combine the flour, kosher salt, and powdered sugar in a large mixing bowl. Cut the butter into tablespoon chunks, then cut each tablespoon into quarters. Scatter the butter pieces over the flour mixture and squeeze the butter with the tips of your fingers, working it into the flour, until the fat is the size of peas. Drizzle the water over the mixture and continue working the dough with your fingers until all that fat and flour is incorporated and the dough comes together in a large ball. Gather the dough, form it into a ball, divide the ball into 4 small discs, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least one hour.
In the food processor: Combine the flour, kosher salt, and powdered sugar in a food processor for 10 seconds. Cut the butter into tablespoon chunks, then cut each tablespoon into quarters. Scatter over the flour mixture (while the machine is off). Very carefully pulse in 2-second intervals until the fat is the size of peas. With the machine turned off, drizzle the water over the mixture. Pulse until the dough begins to form into small balls. If the dough will come together when pressed with your fingers, gather the dough, form it into a ball, divide the ball into 4 small discs, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least one hour. If not, drizzle a bit more ice water over the dough and pulse again. Gather the dough, form it into a ball, divide the ball into 4 small discs, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least one hour.
Roll the dough: On a lightly floured work surface, roll each disc of dough to about 6 inches in diameter to fit inside each pie dish. Trim, roll, and pinch/press/shape the dough to make decorative borders for the crusts. Dock the base of the dough several times with a fork. Place the pie dishes in the refrigerator to allow the dough to chill while the oven preheats and you make the fillings.
Pumpkin Pie Ingredients:
1 tablespoon beaten egg
¼ cup sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup pumpkin puree
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1. Preheat the oven to 425°F and position the oven rack to the middle rung.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, condensed milk, pumpkin, vanilla, and spices.
ILOC tip: if you are a "pumpkin spice" fan and have some on hand, swap the cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves for a scant half teaspoon.
3. Remove the pie shells from the refrigerator and set aside three.
4. Pour the pumpkin filling into one pie shell and place on a rimmed sheet pan. Bake the pie for 10 minutes, during which time you may fill the remaining pies shells. (Then reduce the oven temperature to 350°F and continue to bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the custard is set.)
Apple Pie Ingredients:
½ teaspoon all-purpose flour
pinch of ground cinnamon pinch of kosher salt 1 tablespoon granulated sugar 1 apple, peeled, cored, and cut into ¼-inch dice
Crumb Topping Ingredients: 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
1½ tablespoons brown sugar (light or dark)
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour 1 tablespoon rolled oats pinch of cinnamon pinch of kosher salt
1. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, kosher salt, and sugar. Toss with the diced apples and set aside.
ILOC tip: any apple variety will do, but Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Gala, or Honey Crisp are among the best.
2. In a small bowl and using both sets of fingers, combine the butter, brown sugar, flour, oats, cinnamon, and salt until well incorporated and a crumb forms. Set aside.
3. Pour the apple filling into one pie shell. Pack the crumb topping over the apples as thoroughly as possible, filling in any holes and covering any protrusions.
4. Bake the pie for 25-30 minutes at 350°F. Allow to cool completely before eating.
Pecan Pie Ingredients:
2 tablespoons beaten egg
2 tablespoons corn syrup (light or dark)
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon melted butter
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
heaping 1/3 cup chopped pecans
ILOC tip: it takes about half a cup of pecans to yield about 1/3 cup of chopped pecans.
1. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, corn syrup, sugar, maple syrup, melted butter, vanilla, and pecans.
2. Pour the pecan filling into one pie shell. Bake the pie for 25-30 minutes at 350°F. Allow to cool completely before eating.
Chocolate Pie Ingredients:
3½ ounces dark chocolate
2/3 cup heavy cream
flaked sea salt
1. Line a pie shell with a small piece of parchment paper and fill the shell with pie weights or dry beans. Blind bake the pie shell for 25-30 minutes at 350°F. Carefully lift the parchment paper and weights/beans from the pie shell. Allow to cool completely before filling with the chocolate ganache, about 20 minutes.
2. Bring the heavy cream to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Remove the pan from the heat and add the chocolate. Let the chocolate sit for 1-2 minutes in the hot cream to soften. Stir until most of the chocolate is melted. Cover and let stand for 10 minutes. Stir gently until completely smooth.
3. Pour the chocolate ganache into the blind baked pie shell. Refrigerate for a few hours until set. Sprinkle with salt.