Saturday, October 15, 2011

Lovely Apple Pockets

I love the fall weather because it is the perfect time to spend the weekend apple picking with friends and family, to take walks under the color changing trees, to carve pumpkins, and most of apple pie!!!. After spending a lovely morning apple picking with my boyfriend I hauled home a giant bag of apples and a whole lot of delicious apple baking potential. My first thought was to make an apple pie for us to eat for breakfast during the week (because obviously apple pie is the perfect balanced breakfast). The thought of transporting a piece of pie to work with me on New Jersey Transit conjured up images of a messy purse and hungry belly so I came up with a new plan....Lovely Apple Pockets! These apple pies are delicious, portable, and pretty darn adorable.

I made a homemade crust for mine but if you don't have the time a store bought dough will work just as well. I highly suggest using this recipe as it is super easy to work with and results in a flaky tasty crust to incase your apple filling.

For the crust you will need:

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
3/4 cup butter, cut into 1 inch cubes and chilled
1/4 cup shortening (White Crisco), chilled
6-8 tbsp ice water

Begin by whisking the dry ingedients together in a small bowl.
The rest of the process can be done by pulsing the ingredients in a food processer; however, you can call me old fashioned because I prefer to do it by hand on my countertop. Start by combining the flour mixture with the chilled (very important!) butter and shortening on your countertop.
Using a bench scraper (available at most kitchen stores) cut the butter and shortening into the flour mixture.
Continue 'cutting' the butter into the flour mixture until it is the size of small peas.
Next, create a small well in the center of the flour/butter mixture to pour in a few tablespoons of ice water. Again, very important that all ingredients are very cold! This will ensure a flakier end product.
Begin working the dough together with your hands (or a fork if you don't like getting dirty).
Continue adding in small amounts of ice water and working together with your hands until all the ingredients come together to form the dough.
Wrap the dough in plastic and chill for at least an hour. It is essential to chill the dough because it will make it easier to roll out and will result in a finished product with a flakier and more tender texture.

While the dough chills, peel, core, and dice your apples.   I used a peeler to remove the skin from the apples and then used a melon baller to scoop out the core.  A melon baller is a safe and efficient tool to use for this purpose!  I used 4 large apples and made about 12 apple pockets.
I used a mixtured of apples I picked at the orchard. After dicing them into small squares a tossed them in a hot pan with a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar until they were tender. I had some homemade caramel sauce leftover from my last project so I then tossed the apples with the caramel sauce for the filling. This is where you can get creative. You can make your own caramel sauce or use store bought if you want to follow what I did. Or, you can use your favorite apple pie recipe and dice your apples and follow the same process of tossing the ingredients in a hot pan to soften and cook the filling. Set aside while you prepare your dough.

Place your chilled dough on a floured surface with some extra flour on the side in case you need more.
Roll the dough out to about 1/8" thickness.
I chose to make my pockets in the form of an apple. Since I did not have a proper shaped cookie cutter I simply drew out my desgin on parchment paper and used the cut out as a guide when cutting out my dough. You can be creative with the shapes you want to make them. When cutting out the pieces make sure to cut an even amount so you will have enough for the tops and bottoms of the pockets.
I then put a few drops of food coloring in the scraps and cut out some small hearts to use as decoration. Place all the pieces on a cookie sheet and chill for a few minutes before filling.
Scoop a mound of your filling (drain off extra juice) into the center of half of your pieces, leaving space on all sides. You can mound the filling up high as the apples will deflate as they cook more in the oven. Take the top piece and stretch it slightly before placing on top. Pinch it together on all sides to seal in the filling. You can swipe a small amount of water around the edge before placing the top on to help it stick. Using a fork, press around the edges to ensure the pocket is closed and to create the classic apple pie edge. Brush the tops with egg wash and adhere your decorations. Poke a few holes in the top to let the steam out during baking.  Sprinkle with sugar and bake in a 375 degree oven until the crust is a golden brown (about 15minutes rotating sheetpan halfway through).
These are delicous warm or at room temperature. They can easily be frozen after they are cooked and then warmed in a toaster oven at a later time. Enjoy as an easy and impressive fall dessert, snack, or breakfast (my favorite)! Be creative and have fun as you bake your own version of these lovely apple pockets and enjoy the sweeter side of fall!

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