Mini Apple Pies with Cheddar Crusts

by Julie Ruble on March 15, 2011 · 53 comments

On car trips when I was younger, one of my favorite things to do was to torment my little brother. He would be tucked safely into his car seat minding his own business when I would attack. There was no tickling or hitting or poking involved — that’s just not my style. Instead, I launched a calculated verbal and psychological assault.

Despite the fact that we were usually in Tennessee or Kentucky at the time, I’d point out the window and scream, “HEY, look, it’s Disney World!” His hopeful little face would whip around to see the happiest place on earth, only to be confronted with cornfields and the occasional disinterested cow. “Oh, you just missed it,” I’d say, consoling him with a pat on the arm.

After he’d missed a few more Disney Worlds and a Sea World or two, he was about as frustrated as a hornet in a mason jar. His spluttering protests were met with one of those smug-big-sister shrugs on my part. “What?” I’d say, “I can’t help it if you’re turning around too slow.”

Okay, so I was kind of a punk. In my defense, I was little. And he was usually a pill, I promise.

Anyway, huge counterexample aside, I’m actually a pretty trustworthy person. I don’t know if Alex will ever trust me again, but you can.

One thing you should certainly trust me about is the fact that apple pies and cheddar cheese were made for each other. Some folks — especially in my part of the world, it seems — have never heard of this combo. People can be downright skeptical when you mention it.

I first heard about pairing apple pie and cheddar cheese only a few years ago. I was shocked to find out that this odd couple was an established and beloved tradition in some places. How had I missed out on this my entire life? I promptly ran to the grocery store, bought a mini apple pie and a block of sharp cheddar, and gave it a try. Turns out all those crazy New Englanders (love you guys!) weren’t wrong: the sweet filling with the sharp cheese was a perfect match.

So what would be better than a slice of apple pie with a slice of cheddar cheese on top? How about a pie that fully integrates the apply and cheddary goodness? I created these mini apple pies with cheddar crusts to do just that. The cheddar crust is phenomenal — I think I ate more of it raw than I used in the pies — and I chose a sweet apple filling to balance it out. The result is a buttery, sweet-and-salty piece of heaven.

If this is the first time you’ve heard of the apple pie and cheddar combo, trust me — all Disney Worlds and Sea Worlds aside — when I say you have to try it. And if you’ve enjoyed a slice of apple pie with a hunk of cheddar on top, back me up: tell us how much you love it.

P.S.: Some folks have apparently been known to say, “An apple pie without the cheese is like a hug without the squeeze.”

P.S. 2: Happy Pi Day — only one day late. These little guys are worth the wait.

Mini Apple Pies with Cheddar Crusts



Recipe by: Adapted from my own pie crust and Betty Crocker’s filling
Yield: 4 cupcake-sized apple pies and 10-12 mini apple-pies

Crust Ingredients:
4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
10 ounces extra-sharp cheddar, grated
3/4 cup cold lard (non-hydrogenated if available)*
3/4 cup cold butter, chopped
6-8 tablespoons cold water
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water for egg wash
1/4 cup white sugar mixed with 1 teaspoon cinnamon for sprinkling
*you can substitute vegetable shortening here if you wish, but I highly recommend the lard!

Filling Ingredients:
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
pinch salt
4 cups mixed apples, peeled and chopped (4 medium — I used Gala, Fuji, Granny Smith, and Golden Delicious)
1 tablespoon butter

Directions: Pulse flour and salt together to combine. Add scoops of lard and pulse into the mixture has the texture of coarse sand, about 10 seconds. Add in chunks of butter and cheese and pulse until butter pieces are no larger than small peas, about 10 pulses. Add minimum amount of water and pulse on low. If dough remains crumbly and doesn’t come together, add another 2 tablespoons of water. Add as little as is required to enable the dough to be rolled into a ball. Form the dough into 2 disks, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes while preparing your filling.

Prepare filling: Mix all ingredients together except for butter.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Use cupcake pans, mini-cupcake pans or both for your pies, as desired. After crust has chilled, roll it out between two sheets of parchment paper until it’s relatively thin — a little thinner than 1/4 inch. Pull the parchment paper off the dough every now and then (flipping to do this on both sides) to ensure your dough isn’t sticking. Use a big round cookie cutter or a knife to cut out a piece of dough about 2 inches larger around than your cupcake wells (or about 1 inch larger around than your mini-cupcake wells). Fit this dough down into a well as a bottom crust. Fill it with filling, top it with a few bits of butter, and use another circle of dough to form the top crust. Crimp the edges (careful not to make your crimping too elaborate — if your edge is too big, your pies can be top-heavy and pull apart. You may just want to use a fork to create decorative edges instead of traditional “crimping.”) Repeat this process until all of your mini pies are ready for the oven. Brush them all with egg wash and sprinkle cinnamon and sugar mixture over the top.

Bake mini pies at 400 degrees for 15 minutes (for cupcake-sized) or 10 minutes (for mini-cupcake sized). Turn temperature down to 375 degrees F, open the oven to rotate your pans and cool it off for a few seconds, and turn temperature down to 375 degrees F. Bake cupcake-size pies for 7-9 minutes longer, and mini-cupcake sized pies for 6-7 minutes longer. Remove from the oven and let pies cool completely in the pan — then gently “twist” the pies in their wells to be sure they aren’t sticking and pull them out. Serve immediately or store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.

P.S. Don’t forget about the Cheesecake Challenge! Choose any one of 9 cheesecake recipes to prepare within the next month. Email a photo to me by 4/5/2011 to be featured on Willow Bird Baking! Get more details about the challenge here.

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{ 49 comments… read them below or add one }

kitchenarian March 15, 2011 at 11:20 am

I love apple pie and cheddar cheese together – an unexpected delicious combination of salty and sweet. I can’t wait to try this recipe. Thanks.

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking March 15, 2011 at 12:12 pm

You’re so welcome! Hope you enjoy!

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Kristina @ spabettie March 15, 2011 at 11:30 am

I remember learning of the apple pie + cheddar combination as a child, and was skeptical… but years later I was kicking myself for waiting so long to try it – really a great duo!

this post is great, and timely – I was at my (younger) sister’s house for dinner last night, and we were talking about how I teased her growing up! :D

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking March 15, 2011 at 12:12 pm

Ah, good ol’ sibling rivalry! :)

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Barbara Bakes March 15, 2011 at 12:08 pm

I’ve heard of but not tried the apple cheddar combo, but your little mini pies look irresistible. I posted mini pies for Pi Day too. :-)

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking March 15, 2011 at 12:13 pm

Love your mini pies! You’d love the apple + cheddar combo, Barbara!

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The Higgenbottom March 15, 2011 at 12:11 pm

oh my goodness! this sounds so amazing! i’ve heard of, but never tried this combo, but now your mini apple pies have pushed me over the edge. i must try this recipe! i love your story with your little brother :o)

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking March 15, 2011 at 12:13 pm

Why thank you! Hope you love the pies! Apples and cheddar really are such a yummy pair!

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Joanne March 15, 2011 at 12:23 pm

Someone actually mentioned this concept in front of me and my mom the other day at a family dinner. She scowled in disgust and I started drooling. Typical. Guess I’m just going to have to prove her wrong with these! They look so cute!

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking March 15, 2011 at 12:24 pm

That’s exactly the sort of varied reaction I’ve been getting! If anything can prove her wrong, these can :)

Thanks, Joanne!

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Megan March 15, 2011 at 12:40 pm

We crazy New Englanders do know a thing or two here and there. :) I even eat apple slices with slices of cheddar. Amazing combo. Those pies are adorable, and I love your stories of tormenting your little brother. That’s what sisters are for. :)

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking March 15, 2011 at 2:56 pm

I totally agree, Megan! Alex came out none the worse for the wear! :)

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karen d March 15, 2011 at 2:55 pm

Would you believe that we used to have apple pie with cheddar cheese on top in the school lunchroom? Yes it was forever ago. Yes it was delicious!!
I wish school lunches could be so good now.

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking March 15, 2011 at 2:55 pm

Yum! That’s one school lunch I would love!

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PressureCookerDiaries March 15, 2011 at 3:33 pm

Haha, my husband used to yell out the window: “Look, there it isnt!” really quickly so it sounds like “There it is” and get me.

I love this combo, and think I’ll have to try the recipe since apples are still fresh at the store.

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking March 15, 2011 at 3:35 pm

HA, love it! Husbands, big sisters — same thing, really :)

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Lauren at Keep It Sweet March 15, 2011 at 4:34 pm

These are adorable and I bet delicious!

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking March 15, 2011 at 4:42 pm

Thanks, Lauren!

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catbird March 15, 2011 at 4:36 pm

Been baking apple pie with cheddar crust for years. Always the most popular dessert at the holiday table. Love it!

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking March 15, 2011 at 4:43 pm

This is a great dish for a holiday table, for sure! I might have to roll it out again come next Thanksgiving!

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muppy March 15, 2011 at 5:09 pm

This sounds really interesting, have to save it to try soon!

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking March 15, 2011 at 5:13 pm

Hope you enjoy!

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Kaitlin March 15, 2011 at 8:19 pm

Happy Pi Day to you, too!

I was always the one missing “Disney World” on car rides… Oh memories… Sigh.

Anyway, I keep hearing about this combo and can’t wait to give it a try. I think it sounds delicious :D

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking March 15, 2011 at 11:28 pm

Aw, a little sibling! I apologize on behalf of all older siblings! I actually had to endure both roles, so I (semi) know how you all feel too :)

Thanks, Kaitlin!

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melissa @IWasBornToCook March 15, 2011 at 8:45 pm

These are adorable, and I’m sure they’re delicious too!

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking March 15, 2011 at 11:29 pm

Thanks, Melissa!

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kitchenmisfit March 15, 2011 at 9:42 pm

I’ve never had apple pie with cheddar cheese and I live in New England! I should probably change that soon…

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking March 15, 2011 at 11:29 pm

Definitely!! Let me know what you think!

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Jennifer-The Adventuresome Kitchen March 15, 2011 at 11:05 pm

Fabulous! We love apples with cheese for snacks- so of course they would be great fellows in a pie! My Pi Post is going up a day late too!! Btw- will be emailing you about some cheesecakey stuff! Have a great week!

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking March 15, 2011 at 11:29 pm

Hurray! I can’t wait to get cheesecakey emails!! Thanks, Jennifer! You have a great week, too.

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Maranda March 16, 2011 at 2:40 pm

I learned about apple and cheddar cheese in high school in Washington State. I was immediately enthralled. We made apple and cheddar scones at the time. So good!! I want some of these bad!!!

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking March 16, 2011 at 3:17 pm

Ooh, apple and cheddar scones sound amazing!

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Leona March 16, 2011 at 7:55 pm

I am trying this right now, but I don’t know what 10 oz of cheese is! I know a dry oz is different than a fluid oz. Do you know about how many cups?
Thanks

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking March 16, 2011 at 8:49 pm

Hi Leona! It was a whole block of cheese — maybe about 1.5 cups when grated?

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Judy March 17, 2011 at 12:57 am

These sound divine. You may think you were childish, but my husband used to say “Look, there’s Elvis!” and steal my son’s dessert off his plate when he turned to look. He fell for it for years.

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking March 17, 2011 at 6:45 am

Ha!! Nice! I’m glad I’m not alone in this :)

Thanks, Judy!

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gingerbreadbagels March 23, 2011 at 9:43 am

I LOVE apple pie and these are just too cute! What a great idea to make a cheddar crusts for the apple pies. :)

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking March 23, 2011 at 10:21 am

Thanks, girl!

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nour March 23, 2011 at 4:29 pm

its beautiful!

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Monica H March 28, 2011 at 11:08 pm

While I’ve never had apple pie with a cheese crust, I do love to slice a cold apple and eat it with a wedge of Cheddar. It’s so good. I’ll have to give this combo a try!

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking March 28, 2011 at 11:15 pm

You’ll love it if you love a slice of cheese with your pie! It’s so tasty! :) Thanks, Monica!

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Dana Ariss March 29, 2011 at 12:44 am

Ooh these look incredible and I really want to try them out!! I just wanted to ask if there was a substitute for the lard? Thanks so much!! :)

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking March 29, 2011 at 12:47 am

Thanks, Dana!! You can substitute shortening for the lard. Hope you love them!

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Dana March 29, 2011 at 11:16 am

Thanks so much Julie!!! :) I can’t wait!

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking March 29, 2011 at 11:23 am

You’re welcome! :D

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Quay Po Cooks March 31, 2011 at 11:35 am

I make apple pie but never with cheese. This sounds very interesting to me.

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking March 31, 2011 at 11:44 am

Thank you :) They’re so tasty!

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Daniel January 28, 2014 at 1:31 pm

The story of how you used to torment your little brother is Hilarious! My older sister teased me by saying I was adopted on a family car trip from California to Arizona. I Believe her tell my parents told me the truth. I think that’s what older sister are for! Lol

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Ana January 6, 2014 at 9:59 pm

6 tbsp of water made my crust too wet. I botched these a bit by not putting enough filling in each mini pie, but I think if I had done a better job and filled them until they were practically brimming over they would have been quite good. I think the taste of the filling itself might be the recipe’s weaker point, but the crust is delicious and tastes like a soft cheddar cracker. And of course, despite any shortcomings in taste, these are rather adorable.

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