Apple pie is hands down my favorite holiday food item. I’ll pass on the buttery mashed potatoes and the pumpkin bread – just allow me my big fat piece of homemade apple pie a la mode. It’s a shamelessly beautiful end to my Thanksgiving dinner.
I’m no dummy; I know that even though it’s full of fruit, my slice will run me upwards of 500 calories (natch, before the ice cream). But since I have the utmost respect for apple pie, I’d never dare to reduce calories by losing the double crust or (horror of all horrors) subbing an artificial sweetener. Still, there has to be a way to get all the flavor with fewer calories, right? Right.
Here's what I came up with: Armed with frozen puff pastry and a mini-muffin tray, I cooked the apples down in the microwave before baking. You see, a typical pie bakes in an hour, whereas I needed half that time for my puff pastry. Softening the apples ahead promises perfectly tender apples when the timer dings.
Since this recipe has much less sugar than an apple pie, you’ll find that a mini-scoop of vanilla ice cream is the perfect accompaniment. The calorie-watchers at your holiday table with thank you for the small portion, and for others, you’ll finally have a good answer for the age-old question: apple or pumpkin? When they're mini, you can have both!
Mini Apple Puffs
1 sheet frozen puff pastry
2 large sweet apples, such as Ginger Gold or Macintosh, peeled, cored and diced (about 4 cups)
2 tbsp. water
4 tbsp. maple syrup
1/8 tsp. kosher salt
Juice from ½ a lemon
2 tbsp. flour (white whole wheat or all purpose)
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
¼ tsp. cinnamon
2 tbsp. butter, chopped into 16 small pieces
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Take puff pastry sheet and lay on lightly floured counter, still folded, under a clean dishtowel (to thaw).
3. Place apples, water, maple syrup and salt in a glass bowl and mix to combine. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and microwave for 5 minutes.
4. Remove plastic and add lemon juice, flour and spices. Mix well to combine. Set aside.
5. Unfold puff pastry when no longer frozen (should take about 20 minutes on countertop) and gently roll dough with pin so that it stretches from a 12 inch rectangle to a 15 inch rectangle.
6. Spray a mini muffin pan with nonstick spray. Using a biscuit cutter or the rim of a drinking glass, cut puff pastry into circles (work as closely to the edges and to the other circles as possible in order to get all 16 circles without rerolling).
7. Stretch dough slightly to enlarge and press circles into prepared muffin tin, letting any extra around the edges remain.
8. Spoon apples into dough and fold up the edges, pinching to seal if possible.
9. Dot each puff with a piece of butter.
10. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden. Remove to plates and serve with vanilla ice cream or freshly whipped cream.
*Note: If you're planning to serve later, let pies cool on wire rack and place in Tupperware. When ready to serve, reheat on baking sheet until heated through and crisp. They will keep 24 hours (but reheating is a must).
Per puff: 130 calories, 7.4 fat grams (including 1.8 grams saturated fat), 4 milligrams cholesterol, 69 milligrams sodium, 15 grams carbs, 1 gram dietary fiber, 1.2 grams protein.
Becca Boyd is a wife and mom who creates healthy and delicious recipes in her West Chester kitchen. She blogs about them on her website, Home Beccanomics.