Hard to believe I almost forgot to post these little gems! While I love these with mincemeat in them, they would be great with any other kind of fairly firm pie filling you can think of. Mini-apple pies? Oh yeah. Mini-berry pies? Splendid. The trick is keeping the right ratio of pie to filling.
To be honest, I think I got the ratio off a bit on this batch. You want to be sure to roll the crust thinly enough so that they aren't too doughy. The trick is finding where that line is. Shoot for about 1/8 of an inch and fiddle from there.
I typically use a traditional crust, but you could use any pastry crust adaptation you want. You could even use my Whole Wheat Pie Crust for an added nuttiness. I used the mincemeat I canned last year. I would love to post how to make it, but I would have to do it without any pictures, because that batch made a dozen quart jars... I won't need to make mincemeat for at least another two years! However, any store-bought mincemeat works, or you could easily cook a filling that is very mincemeat-like. My Ice Cream a la Pie recipe is pretty close.
The other thing I love about these little pies is that they freeze so well. One day of making these little pies, and you'll be able to enjoy them for many days to come. Simply bake them! No need to thaw first. I just bake them at a slightly lower temperature than when they are not frozen. Also, it helps to place them in the oven when you first turn it on so that they warm up with the oven.
Making the pies is fairly straight-forward. Roll out the dough until it is nice and thin. Again, go for thinner than what you see here, as I thought this batch turned out a bit crusty. I use a 3-inch biscuit cutter to cut the rounds out.
I place them on a parchment lined cookie sheet and spoon a small amount of filling into the middle. I use my #100 disher (about 2 tsp). Have some egg wash handy (one egg yolk beaten with 1 TBS of water) and brush the edges of the bottom crust.
Place the other crust over the top. Now, sealing takes a bit of practice to get a motion that will work for you. The important thing is to try and get any large pockets of air out. Seal the edges of the pies with the tines of a fork. Brush the tops with the egg wash and then sprinkle with sanding sugar (regular sugar works fine, too). Lastly, using a toothpick or cake tester, prick a few holes in the top to allow the steam to escape.
Bake in a 400 degree F oven for about 15-20 minutes, or until they are nicely browned. If you want to freeze some instead, freeze them unbaked on the baking sheet until they are nice and rigid. Remove from the sheets into a freezer container. I have used both zip top bags and plastic containers; both work well. When you are ready to serve the frozen pies, simply place on baking sheets and place in the oven right as you turn it on. Use a slightly lower temperature with frozen pies - about 375 degrees F. They will take slightly longer to bake, but they will taste just like they did on the day you made them!