Apple Cheddar Hand Pies
When I was a kid the only thing I would actually order from a fast food restaurant was a dollar menu apple pie from McDonalds one that was probably the worst thing for you on the menu (which is saying a lot). They were just too good to resist and I kept eating them right into adulthood. They contained all the delicious flavors of apple pie condensed into one little treat that could be simultaneously enjoyed with with one hand on the pie and the other hand on the car steering wheel.
This recipe is basically a hybrid of an apple pie and a pop tart with the surprise addition of cheddar cheese on top. Ever heard of eating cheddar cheese with apple pie? I used to make fun of my dad for doing it until I finally tried it. For some reason a good sharp cheddar cheese brings out the sweet-tart flavor of apples, enhanced by the nutty cinnamon. From what I can tell it’s most commonly served this way in the Northeast. A 1999 law in Vermont even states that when serving apple pie a “good faith effort” must be made to serve it with a glass of milk and at least ½ ounce of cheddar cheese!
For the crust:
2½ cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled, plus additional for rolling out the dough
1 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes
¼ to ½ cup ice water
For the filling:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 ¾ (packed) cups light brown sugar
4 medium honeycrisp apples, peeled, cored, cut into ¼-inch cubes (about 5 cups)
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon whole milk
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons demerera sugar
1½ cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
For the crust:
In the bowl of a food processor combine the flour, salt and sugar. Add the cubes of butter and pulse until the mixture is crumbly. Slowly pour the ice water over the flour mixture and pulse until the mixture forms a dough. Turn the dough out onto a clean, lightly floured surface and roll it out until it’s smooth. Form the dough into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
For the filling:
Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat, add the butter and allow to melt. Stir in the brown sugar and stir constantly, breaking up any clumps until the sugar has almost dissolved, about 6 minutes.
Stir in the apples, this will cause the sugar to seize up but it will melt again as the apples cook. Next, stir in the salt and cinnamon and cook, stirring occasionally, until the apples are tender but not mushy, about 5 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook an additional minute. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and let it cool completely.
Divide the dough in half and roll each half out into a rectangle about ¼” thick. Cut each rectangle into 8 pieces so each is 4” x 3”. You may have to re-roll the scraps to make enough. Lay the pieces on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Repeat with the other half of the dough.
Use a slotted spoon to mound 2 tablespoons of the apple pie filling into the center of the dough being sure to drain as much of the liquid as possible. Top with one of the remaining rectangles of dough and use your fingers to gently press the edges together. Use the back of a fork to seal the edges together tightly. Repeat with the remaining pies.
In a small bowl whisk together the egg and milk until combined. Use a pastry brush to brush each of the hand pies with the egg wash mixture. In another small bowl stir together the sugar and cinnamon and top each pie with a sprinkle of the mixture. Use a knife to cut three small slits in the top of each. Bake for 15 minutes then take out and sprinkle with the cheese over the top. Bake until golden brown and the cheese is melted, about 15 minutes.
Makes 8 hand pies.