I’ve never quite understood how cupcakes became so popular, and I say this having tasted the best of the best. They are cute, yes, but since they don’t offer an improved flavor profile over cake I rarely find the hassle of decorating that many individual cakes and hand washing muffin tins to be worth it when I can make one full-sized cake and eat it with a fork like a civilized person. That might sound harsh, especially since the end of the cupcake boom is still fresh in the hearts of so many. I apologize to any of you that may be mourning, but read on, I have just the thing to help you feel better.
Mini pies are an entirely different story from cupcakes. By making them mini, the ratio of crust to filling greatly increases (by a factor of three to be exact) which is a marvelous thing for all of us crust lovers. Additionally, mini pies are actually much tidier to eat than pie slices. And their final winning attribute: they are adorable. Mini pies are a great option for Thanksgiving. They make it possible for everyone to eat several different kinds of pie without feeling like they’ve missed out because they exercised restraint or like they’re going to die because they didn’t. Now, a word for those of you that are not fans of pecan pie, you have to try these ones. Noel has never been a fan of pecan pie. He found them too sickly sweet and corn syrupy, but when he tried this version made with maple syrup he ate all the pies I’d set aside for him in five seconds flat.
Mini Pecan Pies
- 1 pie crust (I also made a few for Noel with a gluten free/low-fodmap crust with amazing results.)
- 2/3 C pecans
- 1/3 C maple syrup
- 1/2 TBSP butter
- 1 egg
- 3 TBSP brown sugar
- 1/4 tsp vanilla
- pinch of salt
- Preheat oven to 375º F.
- Grease the entire mini muffin pan, including the top so the pies will slide right out even if the filling bubble over. I have a 24 cup mini muffin pan so I can make the entire batch all at once.
- Roll out the dough and cut 24 circles using a cookie cutter, the rim of a small glass, or even a knife if you can’t find anything appropriately sized. A tip for choosing your crust cutter is you want it to be at least 1/4″ wider in diameter than the holes of the muffin tin. I used one of my children’s cups. Shot glasses would probably be another good option.
- Carefully transfer the circles to the mini muffin pan. Gently press the dough into the well so it’s flush on all sides and there won’t be any air bubbles. Put the mini muffin pan(s) in the fridge to chill while you mix the filling. (Note: You will have extra pie dough. Make some pie crust cookies.)
- Roast the pecans either in the oven (Put on a cookie sheet and bake for about 8-12 minutes, checking now and again to shake and make sure the nuts aren’t burning.) or on the stove top (Put the pecans in a large skillet over medium-low heat and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant and lightly toasted, about 5 minutes.) Set aside to cool.
- Heat the maple syrup and butter until the butter melts. You can do this in a saucepan on the stove or in a measuring cup in the microwave. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt. Gradually whisk the hot maple syrup mixture into the egg mixture.
- Chop the pecans into small pieces and mix into the liquid mixture.
- Spoon the mixture into each pie shell. Try to evenly distribute the pecans so the last couple of pies aren’t just liquid.
- Bake for 12 minutes then rotate pan and cook for about 10-12 minutes more or until the crust is golden brown. Cool until you can touch the pan with your hands and gently remove the individual pies.