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Mini Pies in Mason Jars + How To Make Your Own Pie Filling!

April 9, 2012

I’m so excited to share this recipe for mini fruit pies with you!

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For one thing, the cute presentation will quickly skyrocket you into “domestic goddess” territory in the eyes of those you serve it to.  Whether you use mason jars or little ramekins, the fact is that people go crazy for miniature desserts.  For another thing, being able to make your own fruit pie filling is an awesome skill.  No more relying on that goopy canned pie filling (honestly, it looks like its probably about 90% food coloring!)

Mini Strawberry Vanilla Pies ~ Pretty/Hungry Blog

This pie filling will work with any fruit you want to use.  And it’s great because there aren’t a lot of spices that mask the natural fruit flavor… just a few ingredients to enhance it and make it thick and delish!  For this particular occasion (my dear friend Kaitlin’s baby shower) I chose strawberry, because Kaitlin loves it and because it’s a little more uncommon and special.  And strawberry turned out to be so delightful and lovely as a pie filling that I’ve decided this is one of my new favorite pies to make.  I plan to do a great BIG strawberry pie for the 4th of July!

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I’m not going to lie and tell you this is easy.  The pie filling is super simple… but stuffing crust into jars is time consuming!  Only attempt it if you’re a truly patient baker and/or you plan to serve these at an event.  If not… I say this will taste just as good made the traditional way.  Let’s make it!

I began with a traditional pie crust (you can use whatever recipe you hold near and dear.)  I used Alton Brown’s recipe, made in a food processor.  I had no lard, so I substituted Crisco.

You begin by pulsing the dry ingredients in a food processor to blend.  Then you add in cold butter and lard (or Crisco) and pulse til it resembles coarse crumbs.  Then comes the really genius part… cold water in a spritz bottle!  It allows you to use as little water possible, while still getting it very evenly distributed.  The perfect solution to keep you from adding too much water or from soaking certain parts of the crust while leaving other parts dry!  I love Alton.  :)

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Spritz water, pulse, and repeat a few times…

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…until the mixture looks like this.

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Then just dump it out onto a lightly floured surface, pat or roll it into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill in the fridge for an hour or so before using.  I had to make about 5 crust recipes for eighteen small jars… another reason why I recommend you make a traditional pie ;)

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While the crust is chilling and melding into a beautiful, tender dough… you can make your filling.  Pick your fruit!  Blueberries are great and require no chopping.  Apple is always popular.  I adore tart cherries.  The options go on and on.

Chop 3 cups of your desired fruit into moderately small pieces…

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Then, in a saucepan, combine 3/4 C sugar,

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3 T. cornstarch,

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1/2 C. (I prefer slightly less) water,

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and the chopped fruit!

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Then bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.

It will progress from a thin, watery, pot of fruit chunks…

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…to a clear, thick, fruit compote (see below.)  So cool!!

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Once the filling has thickened, remove it from the heat and immediately stir in 1 T. butter and 1-2 T. lemon juice.

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Set the filling aside and grab your chilled pie crusts out  of the fridge.  Roll them out to about 1/4-inch thickness.  Then, use whatever method you can figure out to stuff and squish it into little jars.  OR neatly and effortlessly roll it into one large disc and transfer it to a standard-size pie pan.  (Can you tell which option I favor?)

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Take another disc of crust, and roll it out to 1/4-inch thickness to make the cute little top crusts.  You can really use anything to cut the top crusts to the size you need.  (The cap of my cinnamon jar ended up being the perfect size “cutter” to cap off these jars!  Just experiment til you find the perfect cutter!)

Then cut little slits in the crust circles to allow steam to escape during baking.

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Lightly beat an egg and brush it onto the circles…

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And sprinkle each with a dusting of sanding sugar.

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Then just place each circle on top of the filled bottom crusts, like so.

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At this point (or even before rolling out the top crusts) you can put the lids on these jars to freeze the pies and bake them another day.  It works out really well if you’re preparing for an event!  All you have to do on the day of your party is thaw and bake them… WAY less stressful.

And freezing them is exactly what I did!  ( I froze mine before rolling out all the top crusts, because I got tired.)

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For baking, just remove the lids and let the pies thaw for a few hours if you froze them ahead of time.  Then preheat your oven to 375.  Place the jars in a glass baking dish (the kind you’d use to make brownies) and pour about an inch of water into the bottom of the large dish.  (I did this as a precaution, to avoid all the hot glass touching and potentially cracking.  I’ve taken no science lessons that taught me this solution… in fact, it may not have done anything at all!  But it gave me peace of mind.)

Then bake for 36-40 minutes… until the crusts are golden brown and flaky!

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Those few spare inches at the top of the jar are the perfect space for a dollop of sweetened whipped cream, or ice cream!

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I’d love to hear about any delightful variations you might make of this recipe!  I know I had a lot of fun making it… and we girls had a lot of fun eating it!

This is one happy momma!

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You may also like…

Apricot Angel Brownies                                                  Tour of the Orto

6 Comments leave one →
  1. July 19, 2012 10:53 pm

    what a charming and thorough page. so glad i found you!
    there is another recipe with using 1/2 pint jars- perhaps a little less labour intensive and more of a single serving? it was presented having been taken out of the little jar and placed on a plate! i keep thinking a little dollop of creme fraiche or really good quality vanilla bean ice cream!
    well, keep up the great work, blessings!
    kb

  2. JoAnn permalink
    November 6, 2012 6:24 pm

    Why mess with the bottom crust…why not just fruit and a top crust? Seems way easier, but I may just be lazy.

    • November 6, 2012 6:29 pm

      That is a brilliant idea JoAnn! I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me. I now wish it had.

      Although I don’t know if everyone would’ve approved of the idea… most people said the crust was their favorite part!

  3. huntfortheverybest permalink
    September 20, 2013 5:44 pm

    omg how adorable. love the spritz bottle idea!

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