Apple Pear Honey Creme Tiny Pies

Recently, I went off on a rant about cupcakes, and how they are so over and just eat a normal-sized piece of cake, okay? But then, in true fickle SoupAddict fashion, I turned around and immediately fell for other kinds of miniature desserts.

Like tiny pies.

They’re the kittens of the fruit pie world. So sweet and adorable, they make you go awww just at the mere sight of them.

And to be honest, tiny pies are also my fruit pie salvation for 2011.

I’ve spent the last several autumns competing in pie baking contests. Apple pies are my specialty, and I’ve taken home the blue ribbon in my fair share of contests ’round these parts. But people, creating a prize-winning pie is a lot of work. Accidental pies don’t win ribbons. Behind every charmingly rustic pie is a baker who slaved for hours rolling, draping, redraping, pinching and smoothing the dough just so, tweaking and tweaking until it was perfectly imperfect.

The blue-ribbon baker who coyly says, “why, I just threw that little ole thing together” is fibbing. (Lie-yah! [shakes fist] Lie-yah!).

To the right is a camera-phone shot of one my competition pies from 2010: caramel apple streusel pie. The top crust alone — made of individually cut and embossed leaves of dough — took an hour.

But, I made a promise to myself to not bake a single pie this year. Not one. I needed the break. Especially after last year’s final competition of the season, where the panel of aw-shucks, t-shirt-wearing, soccer-dad judges sampled only the centers of the pies, leaving all the crusts behind, like 5-year-olds with their PB&J’s.

Upon seeing the disaster-zone judging area, with a long row of hallowed-out pies (in some cases, the top crusts were flipped over like lids), there were gasps of shock, not only from the contestants but also the baking guru grannies in attendance. WTF, soccer-dads? Victory was hallow, as it’s the crust that makes a competition-worthy pie: it doesn’t matter how awesome your filling is if you don’t nail the crust.

But despite the pie PTSD, it was impossible to resist this year’s apple and pear harvests. Lovely beyond lovely, in spite of our erratic summer weather. And once I spied the muffin tin in the back of one of my cabinets, I knew I had a solution to my full-pie aversion. Meet the tiny pie.

A delicately sweet creme base bubbles around the lightly seasoned fruit as it cooks. No nit-picky fussing over the dough — it comes together easily. 20 minutes from to start to oven. Ahhh. Pie retirement is good.

Apple Pear Honey Creme Tiny Pies

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Bake time: 20 minutes

Yield: 12 mini pies

1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup milk (whole or 2%)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup butter
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 sweet-tart apples, peeled, cored, and sliced very thinly and then into small 1″ pieces
2 pears, peeled, cored, and sliced very thinly and then into small 1″ pieces
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly ground
1 recipe of your favorite homemade pie crust recipe divided equally and rolled into rounds (or, if desperate, one 15 ounce package pastry for double-crust pie)

1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine sugar, 1/2 cup milk, heavy cream, butter and honey. Heat until butter is melted, stirring occasionally. Whisk together the cornstarch, 2 tablespoons milk, and vanilla in a small bowl, then stir into the butter mixture. Cook until thickened, stirring constantly (should just take a few minutes after the cornstarch has been added). Remove from heat, and set aside to cool slightly.

2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C) with rack in the center of the oven. In a medium bowl, combine the apple and pear slices, lemon juice flour, cinnamon and nutmeg. Mix well.

3. Grease and flour a standard muffin tin (or use a non-stick version, greasing unnecessary). Use a 4″ round cookie cutter to cut 6 circles from each pie crust round (note: it may be necessary to gather up the scraps and reroll to make the 6th circle from each round). Optional: use small decorative cookie cutters to cut 12 shapes from leftover dough scraps. I used a leaf shape in this batch.

4. Fit one dough circle into each muffin compartment, pressing lightly so as not to rip the dough. It doesn’t need to be a snug up-against-the-walls fit, but the dough should form a round bowl.

5. Spoon the honey creme evenly into each of the pie dough cups. Then spoon the apple-pear filling on top of the creme. (If using, drape the small dough shapes on top of the fruit filling.)

6. Bake for 17 to 20 minutes, or until the edges of the crust are golden brown and fruit is tender. Allow pies to cool completely in the pan.

7. Lift out each pie one by one, taking care not to squeeze too hard (the crust should be firm, so they’ll lift right out). Serve at room temperature.

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  1. I think if I saw something that I had put so much work into torn into like that, I would have curled up fetal-position style and cried. Right there. In the middle of the aisle. Or started tripping the judges. Oopsie…
    These are beautiful – I love the detail. (I also such a sucker for anything apple. Or pear.)

  2. I’ve been wanting to make some peach (last of the season) pies as a thank you for a few neighbors but was not thrilled with just how much pie making that would involve! The more I thought about it, I felt a whole pie might be overkill, plus I wanted some for myself…but they’d kind of notice a slice missing. :) This is the Perfect Solution! Thank you so much!
    I can’t believe anyone would think a soccer dad would have a clue about baking anything much less pies and judging them! After all the competitions and this finale, I can easily understand the Pie PTSD.

  3. I agree, it’s the crust that makes a good pie. I can understand how heartbreaking it would be to see your pie treated like that.

    I love your gorgeous tiny pie though. So sweet and cute, and I love the combination of pear and apple.

    PS. I love the plate you have the pie on!!

  4. That caramel apple streusel pie is gorgeous, SoupAddict. And as ignorant as I am about contests involving pie, I am appalled that anyone let it or others be mauled. Your pie retirement solution is a good one.

  5. Your mini-pies look delicious! How did you manage to get the crust into the pan and maintain the scalloped crust design intact? I can’t wait to try your recipe and would love to have it look as wonderful as yours does.

  6. Yum! The idea of honey creme sounds delicious in a pie.

  7. Your blog is full of delicacies! I Really admire how you made this. Looks very delicious!! Looking forward to learning more from you.

  8. I think I would like to try this out. It looks delicious…apple and pear in honey creme..yumm yumm

  9. I am so making a tiny pie now! Yours are so adorable! We took a break after gingerbread competitions, and just started photographing our local one the past two years. Way too much work, but your caramel apple streusel pie is gorgeous.

  10. These are absolutely adorable!! Fantastic job! And … not only are they beautiful they sound delicious!! Thanks for sharing.

  11. kittens of the pie world – I love it! These are adorable and I can see that they pack a punch of flavor. Mmm.

  12. I’m bringing over some candy as long as you feed me some pie!!

  13. I can certainly see why you are a blue ribbon pie winner! These are fantastic! Really enjoyed reading your post and felt right along with you the injustice of it all with those soccer-Dad judges.

  14. These taste better than they look ( which is pretty darn awesome) . They have made the cut for Thanksgiving. Now I just have to keep teenage boys out of them until after dinner. This site is a definite bookmark !!! Thank you for sharing!

  15. Oh, my, these are gorgeous mini pies! I can see why you win so many blue ribbons…your leaf topped pie is fabulous, too! WOW!

  16. I just made these tiny pies a few hours ago and I am completely enamored by these deliciously adorable little things. I’ve never put so much effort into a single dessert before, but the hard work made it even more rewarding – plus it was fun! The honey creme is absolutely divine. I wasn’t sure how thick to make it, but I figured I’d get it around pudding-consistency, which worked out fine for me. I had a lot of apple-pear filling and honey creme left, so I took it upon myself to make a couple of handpies. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe! I’ll definitely be making these again. :)

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