To begin, pulse the crust ingredients together in a food processor until you get a grainy consistency.
Form the crust dough into a circular disk. You should see tiny bits of butter throughout the dough. This helps make the dough nice and flaky. Wrap the dough with plastic wrap, and stick it in the fridge to chill while you make the filling. The crust should ideally chill for about 1 hour. The colder the dough is, the better. The chilling process ensures that the dough stays flaky by keeping those tiny butter bits firm and intact. Also, chilled dough is MUCH easier to handle.
At this point, you should begin peeling, slicing and dicing the apples. Cutting the apples into evenly-sized pieces ensures that all of the apple filling cooks consistently. Here's a little picture tutorial on how to get evenly diced apples:
Once all of your apples are diced, mix them with the rest of the filling ingredients. Make sure to coat your apples thoroughly. Set the filling aside. Lightly grease your muffin tin and preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Take the dough out of the fridge, divide it in half, and put half of the dough back in the plastic wrap and back into the fridge. As I said earlier, it is essential to keep the dough cold so that it is easy to work with. Trust me on this. If it gets too warm on you, it'll start sticking and falling apart. Therefore, just work with what you need at the moment, and put any dough you are not currently handling in the fridge to keep cold.
Roll the dough out until it is about 1/8th of an inch thick. Cut out circles to fit your muffin tins. I used my magic bullet lid to cut out even circles. Ideally, you want your circles to be a bit larger than the diameter of the muffin tin hole so that when you press in the dough, the edges of the crust will reach the top of the hole (overhang is much better than the crust not reaching the top). After rolling and cutting out circles, you will end up with 8 pie bottoms and 8 pie tops. Press the pie bottoms into the muffin tin to form the bottom pie crust. Again, be sure to press the crust edges up to the top (or beyond) of the muffin tin hole.
Place 3 tbsps of the filling in each of your pie bottoms
Top each of the pies with the top crust. I used the tip of a chopstick to seal in the filling and pinch together the top and bottom crusts.
After you've formed the pies, brush some milk on top of each mini pie, and then sprinkle each with some granulated sugar. Cut 4 slits near the top of each pie to form air vents. Do not cut holes at the very top and center of the pies. If you do so, your pie may just collapse on you. Pop the muffin tin into the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes. Be sure to turn the muffin tin around half way through baking to ensure even browning. Mmm...now, let the wonderful smell of apple pie fill your home.
You'll know the pies are finished baking when they look nice and golden brown. Let the pies cool slightly before running a knife around the edges to release the pies. I find it easiest to lift the pies using a fork, carefully running the prongs straight downwards against the side of the tin, and then scooping the pies from the bottom and up. Be extra gentle, these pies are delicate, light, and flaky.
My pies cracked a little on top when I pulled them out of the muffin tin. It's okay though, homemade pies don't need to look completely perfect. In fact, I prefer and adore the rustic look of a handmade pie. It is much more comforting in appearance, and you can really see the textures that we worked so hard on creating. Besides, if anyone says anything...let them eat pie. Nom, nom, nom...
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