Written by Kayla Hoffman (Features Writer)
Fall and Winter give us a great chance to bake with our families for Thanksgiving and Christmas. There’s the regular savory main course and afterward comes all the desserts. A popular favorite among Fall and Winter desserts is pumpkin pie, however, you can create a twist with this traditional treat: mini pumpkins pies! They are very cute to look at and place on the table and you can dress them up with whipped cream or confectioners sugar as well!
With this recipe, you can use a store-bought crust or decide to make your own. If you’d like to go all out and make your own crust, you’ll need the following:
- 2 ½ cups of all-purpose flour (+ a little extra for rolling it out)
- 1 cup (two sticks or 8 oz) of very cold and unsalted butter cut into about half-inch cubes
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp sugar
- 6-8 tbsp of ice water
- Two standard-sized muffin pans (one will do just fine)
Egg Wash Ingredients (optional)
- 1 tbsp of heavy cream, half and half, or milk
- 1 large egg yolk
(For the egg wash, you’d beat the yolk with your choice of heavy cream, half and half, or milk, and use a pastry brush to lightly coat the crust prior to baking.)
To begin your crust, you’ll need to combine and mix your flour, sugar, and salt into a food processor – while a processor is preferred you can also use a mixer. Just be very thorough with the mixing and make sure it’s well done – this might take a little bit more time compared to the food processor.
Once your dry ingredients are mixed well, you’ll drizzle in just ¼ cup of your ice water. Make sure there’s no remaining ice before pouring. After mixing this, continue adding the rest of your ice water slowly through 1 tbsp intervals. Make sure that you mix well between these intervals of ice water. If you add too much water, the dough will become too tough. You’ll know it’s ready when you pinch the crumbly mixture and it stays together.
After your dough is ready, it’ll be time to knead it. Empty the dough out of your bowl onto a clean and dry surface and split it into two even parts. You’ll want to knead it into two tiny disk-shaped mounds. Don’t knead it too much or else your crust will toughen and you don’t want this with a flakey crust. If you see small chunks of butter, this is awesome because it’ll further enhance the flakiness of your crust. You’ll know that you’re done kneading once the dough can hold itself together without cracking.
Cover each mound in a small amount of flour and wrap it with cling wrap. From here on, you’ll let it sit in the refrigerator. You can leave it here for an hour or up to two days!
Once it’s done refrigerating, you’ll let it sit for 5-10 minutes at room temperature. That’ll make it so it’s easier to roll out. Sprinkle your surface with some flour and roll out your dough mounds until they’re about a 12-inch circle and ⅛ inch thick. Measure the tins you’ll be placing your tiny crusts in to be sure you get the right size of the tiny crust. A 3.5-inch cookie cutter is also a good regular size to start off with. You can save any extra crust and use it to decorate the tops of the pies in a lattice or however you please. Have fun with it!
While you’re waiting for your dough to sit you can use this time to begin the filling. For the delicious pumpkin filling you’ll need the following ingredients:
Pie Filling Ingredients
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp of ground ginger
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
- ⅛ tsp ground cloves
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 cup pumpkin purée (you can buy this canned at basically any local grocery store)
- ¾ cups of evaporated milk
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
Preheat your oven to 400℉ and place your cut-out crusts into the muffin pans. You’ll want to place these in the refrigerator while you make your pie filling. In a mixing bowl, whisk your brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and salt together. Once well combined, add in your pumpkin purée, evaporated milk, and egg until all is mixed well. Now, you can take your mini pie crusts out of the refrigerator and spoon in your filling. It should be about 2 tbsp of filling the per crust. As mentioned above, feel free to decorate the tops of your pies and make them unique!
Bake the mini pies at 400℉ for 16-20 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the pie filling is set. You can check this by wiggling the pan slightly (while wearing an oven mitt, please) and if it doesn’t jiggle, they’re good. Once finished baking in the oven, remove and leave them to sit for about 30 minutes. Once that’s done, you can enjoy your tiny pies!
Baking with loved ones is always really nice to do during the holidays, especially with such a stressful year coming to a close. Be sure to stay safe and have a great Thanksgiving!