Fall is my favorite season by far! Vibrant fiery colors blanketing the slopes, crisp air, jackets. I love jackets.
I also love all the "fall activities"...hay rides, apple picking, corn mazes. Ever been through a corn maze? Oh, you should! Although I must say, I had a little toughening up to do the first time we tried it.
You see, I have this irrational fear of corn fields. It's silly, I know. Maybe it stems from watching too many scary corn field movies at junior-high slumber parties. It's also the noise they make. You know EXACTLY what I'm talking about, if you've ever walked down a country road with corn fields on either side. Towering over you. Impenetrable. Crackling in the wind. Murmuring, rustling... Is someone moving through them...watching? You'll never know. The haunting sound covers a multitude of sins.
They creep me out to say the least!
However, when wide, well-planned walkways have been cut through, and I have a map, and a hand to hold, I can enjoy them--in the daylight!
In the Asheville area, the Eliada Corn Maze is the best we've visited. It is massive, with areas sectioned off for children and beginners. There are also elaborate mazes that may take over an hour to get through. The kids, who have no irrational fear of the stalks, look forward to the corn maze every year. It's a great family activity!
When you return home from the corn maze, a fresh fall treat is well deserved. Try these Brandy-Apple Mini Pies with CORNmeal Crust as your reward!
These little babies are as close to PERFECT as any pie I've ever made. The cornmeal crust has a hearty flavor, but delicate texture. The Brandy syrup saturates the apples and wafts through the house with an intoxicating perfume! If only you could bottle the aroma!
This would be a GREAT dessert for your Halloween Party! Use a spooky cookie cutter for the tops!
Brandy-Apple Mini Pies with Cornmeal Crust
1 ¾ cup flour
¾ cup yellow cornmeal
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 ½ tsp. salt
1 cup vegetable shortening
3-5 Tb. ice water
3-4 large tart green apples, peeled and diced
¼ cup unsalted butter
1 Tb. + 2 tsp. flour
2 Tb. Brandy
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup brown sugar
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
Pinch of salt
Add the flour, cornmeal, powdered sugar, and salt to the food processor. Pulse a couple times. Then cut the shortening in to cubes and pulse it into the dry mixture.
Add 3 Tb. of ice water and pulse until the dough comes together. Add a little more water if needed.
Dump the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap and divide it into a large and small piece--80/20. Shape the dough into two disks, then wrap both pieces and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
Peel and dice the apples. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
In a small sauce pan, add the butter and remaining six ingredients over medium heat. Stir and bring to a simmer. Pour the syrup over the apple and toss.
Take the larger disk of dough out of the fridge. Roll it out on a well-floured work surface to approximately 1/8 inch thick. Using a drinking glass with a 3 ½ -4 inch wide rim, cut out dough circles. Press the dough circles into muffin tins—if you gather the extra pieces and re-roll, you should be able to get 14-16.
Fill each crust with an equal portion of apple mixture.
Roll out the smaller piece of dough. Using a 2-3 inch decorative cookie cutter, cut out “tops” for each pie. Place each top on the pies and Brush them with the remaining syrup from the apple bowl.
Bake the mini pies for 15 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 350 degrees F, and bake another 15 minutes. If the tops are golden after the first 15 minutes, lay a sheet of foil over them.
Allow the pies to cool completely before trying to remove them from the muffin tins.
NOTE~ Silicone muffin pans make it extremely easy to extract the pies. If using metal muffin tins, run a small sharp knife around ONE rim at a time, and gently dump one pie out into your hand, before moving on to the next.
If you would like to make this as a whole 9 inch pie, make the crust as directed and split the dough into equal pieces. Then DOUBLE the amount of apples and syrup mixture. Bake the pie for 30 minutes at 425, then 30 minutes at 350!
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