These caramel apple hand pies are the perfect gluten free dessert or snack, no matter the occasion. They are super easy to make, and come out perfectly sweet, flaky and buttery every time. And the caramel… well, that brings this wonderful fall dessert to a whole new level!
You know the biggest difference between Chemistry and cooking? In cooking (and baking), even if something doesn’t turn out 100% spot on… at least you can still get some enjoyment out of eating it. In Chemistry… not so much.
This week (and last week… and the week before that), my research results have been a mess. Which typically doesn’t happen to me, and that makes it all the more frustrating. I feel like I’ve been living in this nice little bubble where everything worked really well… and then reality stopped by with a needle – and POP! there goes the bubble. Welcome to the reality of Chemistry research.
Thankfully, once you master a technique (be it in the lab or in the kitchen), you’re all set and good to go. Then you can take what you know, and go crazy with it. Which is why you’re looking at the 4th pie-variation recipe in 2 weeks – ‘cause even if my experiments don’t work like I want them to, the gluten free pie crust sure does.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: this gluten free pie crust is pure buttery, flaky perfection and it’s not difficult to make at all. And it’s the star of these gluten free caramel apple hand pies. Just like for the “pie-on-a-stick”, the name of this amazing gluten free dessert snack eluded me. Pop tarts? Nope, different shape. Pie pockets? Kinda… Aha, hand pies! Because… you hold them in the hand? …
Basically, these apple hand pies are apple pie in a portable form, with a greater pie crust-to-filling ratio. Oh, and there’s caramel. In other words, they’re bloody brilliant!
Now, because the pockets for the filling are rather small, and because we really want to stuff a whole lot of flavour into that small space, we’ll be grating the apples. I do realise that that’s not really common in the USA/UK culture, but for Slovenia (where I’m originally from), grated-apple-pies are quite the norm.
This results in a softer, fluffier filling that doesn’t have quite as much bite to it as the sliced apple filling… but WHOA, it’s delicious. The spices are aromatic and leave your mouth pleasantly warm, giving you that fall’s-almost-here feeling. And the caramel made from the excess filling juice… let’s just say that serious self-restraint is required for getting any of it into the actual apple hand pies (rather than in your mouth).
Also, because we’re awesome, we’ll leave a bit of the caramel aside for drizzling.
These apple hand pies would make the perfect back-to-school snack, a wonderful contribution to a potluck, or a super sweet and yummy end to a picnic. Honestly, no matter the occasion, they will be spot on. Because who has ever said “no” to such sweet, flaky, buttery, decadent apple pie goodness?
Gluten Free Caramel Apple Hand Pies
For gluten free pie crust:
- 1 cup cold water
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 cups (250 g) plain gluten free flour blend (I've used a simple store-bought blend of rice, potato and maize flour with no added xanthan gum)
- 1/2 cup (50 g) coconut flour
- 1 tsp xanthan gum
- pinch of salt
- 2 tbsp (25 g) caster sugar
- 1 3/4 sticks (200 g) cold unsalted butter, cut into ~1/2 inch cubes
For caramel apple pie filling:
- 3 medium (~450 g) apples, grated (I recommend the Bramley or Granny Smith varieties, or a mix of the two)
- 1/4 cup (50 g) caster sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 1/2 tbsp (15 g) unsalted butter
You will also need:
- 1 egg, lightly whisked (or 3 tbsp of dairy or non-dairy milk for an egg-free option) – for egg wash
- 2 tbsp caster sugar – for sprinkling before baking
For gluten free pie crust:
In a cup, mix together cold water and apple cider vinegar, and place them into the freezer until needed.
Sift together gluten free flour, coconut flour, xanthan gum, salt and caster sugar.
Add the butter and toss it in the flour until all butter pieces are covered with it.
Using your hands, pinch together the butter pieces and flour until you get a mix of fine pea-size pieces and larger, ~1/3 inch size pieces.
Add the ice cold water-vinegar mixture, 2 tbsp at a time, and mix the pie dough with a fork until it comes together. You will need 14 – 16 tbsp of water. The dough at the end should be slightly more damp/wet than typical pie crust because gluten free flour tends to absorb more moisture during baking, so we want to counteract that.
Shape the pie dough into a disc (if needed, knead it slightly – but don't overwork it!), wrap it into cling film and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
For caramel apple pie filling:
In a bowl, mix together the grated apples, caster sugar, spices and lemon juice.
Mix well and place into a strainer above a bowl. Allow the excess liquid from the filling to drip into the bowl for at least 1 hour.
Transfer the drained liquid into a small saucepan and add the butter. Cook on medium-high heat until caramelised and syrupy (about 5 minutes).
Mix 1/2 of the caramel into the grated apple filling, and set aside the other 1/2 for drizzling later.
Making hand pies:
Pre-heat the oven to 200 ºC (390 ºF).
Line a baking sheet with baking/greaseproof paper.
Remove the pie crust dough from the fridge, shape it roughly into a rectangle, and place it in between two pieces of cling film. The cling film will stop the pie crust from sticking to the rolling pin and the surface underneath.
Roll out the pie dough until it is about 3 mm thick.
Peel back the top layer of cling film.
Cut the pie crust dough into about 4 x 6 inch rectangles (this recipe should give about 8 of these). Each of these will later be folded in half to give 4 x 3 inch hand pies.
Fill each hand pie with about 2 tbsp of the filling.
Brush the edges of the rectangles with egg wash (or milk, but egg will work better in sealing the pie dough together). This will help seal the filling inside the hand pies.
Fold the rectangles over the filling so that you get 4 x 3 inch rectangles. Press along the edges with your fingers to seal the edges together.
Using a fork, decorate the edges of the hand pies (this also helps to additionally seal the filling inside).
Using a knife, gently pierce the tops of the hand pies.
Brush the hand pies with egg wash (or milk) and sprinkle with caster sugar.
Bake in the pre-heated oven at 200 ºC (390 ºF) for about 23 - 25 minutes, or until the hand pies have puffed up slightly, and are crisp and golden brown.
Allow to cool, drizzle with the remaining caramel, and enjoy!
The gluten free hand pies keep well in a closed container in a cool dry place for about 3 to 4 days (but they are usually gone within the hour).
Looking for more gluten free pie deliciousness? I’ve got you covered!