Pie is the perfect ending for holiday meals

But instead of splitting one large dessert, make individual tarts or pies so everyone has their own pastry

The traditional Thanksgiving table is filled with delicious food — a roast turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and a plethora of side dishes that generally don’t change from year to year.

But come dessert, you have a choice. There’s generally pie, but the type of pie can vary greatly. There are traditional pumpkin pies as well as those made with sweet potatoes, apples and all types of fruit, various nuts — the list goes on. 

So this year, consider making a plethora of different pies. Not large pies to feed the whole family, but individual pies and tarts with varying flavors. People can pick and choose the versions they like or want to try. They can try several, or if they’re too full to eat dessert, they can easily save them for later.

It is a little more work, but because these smaller pies don’t take as long to bake it’s not as time consuming to make many.

One of the most daunting parts of making a pie is the crust. There are plenty of ways to make a flaky pie crust. Some people swear by lard, others by shortening. Some people believe that substituting vodka for a portion of the liquid is the way to go, while others say cold water is the only option.

There are two simple rules to remember — handle the dough as little as possible and keep the ingredients cool. 

All the ingredients, including the flour and especially the fat, should be ice cold before mixing. If making the dough in a food processor, you can freeze the fat before using it.

Chill the dough for about an hour before rolling to help prevent sticking.

Some recipes call for blind baking the crust, while others don’t require the crust to be pre-baked.

Always make deep slits in the top crust of a fruit pie or the crust will end up soft and soggy. 

Cool baked pies on a wire rack on a counter. This allows air to circulate under the pie, preventing it from becoming soggy.

While you have many options for the crust — from the traditional pastry crust to a cookie crumb version — the filling is easily the most versatile part of the pie. 

Don’t forget to finish off the dessert with a dollop of whipped cream or a bit of ice cream.

Following are a number of individual pie recipes from tasteofhome.com. If you’re looking for a traditional full-sized pie, try the recipe from Cathy Ferguson, who won the fall street festival pie contest sponsored by Port Main Street Inc.



Bourbon Chocolate Walnut Pie

Cathy Ferguson


For crust:

1-1/4 cup flour

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1/4 cup cold vegetable shortening

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

For filling:

3 large eggs

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1/3 cup maple syrup or bourbon’d maple syrup

1-1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/3 cup honey

2 tablespoons bourbon

1-1/2 cups roughly chopped walnuts


For crust, combine flour, sugar and salt in food processor and pulse to combine. Add shortening and pulse until mixture looks like cornmeal. Add butter and pulse a few times until butter is in pea-sized pieces. Add vinegar and one tablespoon ice water, then pulse until dough starts coming together but is still crumbly, adding one more tablespoon of ice water if needed. 

Turn dough onto a piece of plastic wrap, shape in a disk and wrap. Refrigerate 10 minutes. Remove from refrigerator, put on another piece of wrap and roll dough to pie pan width. Refrigerate another 10 minutes. Place in pie pan, flute edges and refrigerate 30 minutes.

Put baking sheet on middle oven rack and preheat to 425 degrees.

Whisk eggs, brown sugar, honey, syrup, melted butter, bourbon, vanilla, salt, walnuts and chocolate chips in a large bowl until smooth. Pour into crust, place pie on hot baking sheet and reduce oven to 350 degrees. Bake 50 to 55 minutes, until crust is golden and filling is set around the edge but slightly jiggly in the center.

Transfer pie to a rack and cool three to four hours.



Handheld Apple Pies


1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened

1 cup Kerrygold unsalted butter, softened

2 cups flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

For filling:

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground allspice

2 cups finely chopped peeled tart apples

3 tablespoons Kerrygold unsalted butter, softened

For finishing:

1 large egg yolk

2 tablespoons water

Coarse sugar 



In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and butter until smooth. Combine flour and salt and gradually add to butter mixture until well blended. Divide dough in half. Shape each into a ball, then flatten into a disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for one hour.

Combine sugar, cinnamon and allspice and set aside. Divide each portion of dough into 12 balls. On a lightly floured surface, roll each ball into a four-inch circle. Place a tablespoonful of chopped apples on one side. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon sugar mixture and dot with 1/4 teaspoon butter.

In a small bowl, whisk egg yolk and water. Brush edges of pastry with egg wash, then fold pastry over filling and seal edges well with a fork. Place two inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Brush remaining egg wash over tops. Cut slits in pastry. Sprinkle with coarse sugar and cinnamon-sugar.

Bake in a 425-degree oven for 11 to 14 minutes, until golden brown. Remove to wire racks to cool.



Li’l Pecan Pies


1/2 cup flour

1/8 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons shortening

4 teaspoons cold water

For filling:

1/3 cup pecan halves

1 large egg

1/3 cup packed brown sugar

1/3 cup corn syrup

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whipped cream, optional


In a small bowl, combine flour and salt, then cut in shortening until crumbly. Gradually add water, tossing with a fork until dough forms a ball. Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.

Divide dough in half. Roll each half into a six-inch circle. Transfer to two 4-1/2-inch tart pans, trimming if necessary. Arrange pecans in shells.

In another small bowl, whisk egg, brown sugar, corn syrup and vanilla. Pour over pecans. Place shells on a baking sheet and bake in a 375-degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Top with whipped cream if desired.



Pumpkin Pie Tartlets With Maple Pecan Crust


2 cups old-fashioned oats

4 cups chopped pecans

1/2 cup maple syrup

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

For filling:

1/2 cup maple syrup

3 tablespoons cornstarch

2-1/4 cups canned pumpkin or homemade pumpkin puree

1/4 cup cream of coconut, warmed

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

For topping:

1/2 cup chopped pecans

2 teaspoons maple syrup

Dash sea salt


Process oats in a food processor until a fine powder forms. Add pecans and pulse until nuts are chopped. Add maple syrup, cinnamon, sea salt, vanilla and cloves, then pulse until mixture is moistened. Remove from processor.

Fill 18 greased muffin cups with 1/3 cup oat mixture each. Using a wet one tablespoon measure, press mixture onto bottom and up sides of muffin cups. Bake in a 350-degree oven about 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack.

Whisk together maple syrup and cornstarch. In another bowl, mix canned pumpkin, cream of coconut, cinnamon, sea salt, nutmeg, ginger and cloves, then add maple syrup mixture. Spoon about three tablespoons into each crust.

Combine topping ingredients, then spoon about one teaspoon onto each tartlet. 

Bake in a 350-degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes, until dark golden and set. Cool 10 minutes before removing tartlets to a wire rack. Cool one hour. If desired, refrigerate before serving.





Mini Sweet Potato Pies


2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes

2 sheets refrigerated pie crust

1/4 cup flour

3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cubed

1 cup packed brown sugar


Place sweet potatoes in a greased 15-by-10-by-1-inch baking pan. Bake in a 400-degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes, until tender.

Unroll one pie crust. Using a 2-1/2-inch round cutter, cut out 12 circles. Press circles onto bottoms and up sides of 12 nonstick mini muffin cups. Repeat with second crust. Chill.

In a food processor, pulse flour, butter and 1/4 cup brown sugar until crumbly. Set aside for topping. 

Place baked sweet potatoes and remaining brown sugar in food processor and pulse until almost smooth. Fill crust-lined cups three-fourths full. Sprinkle with topping.

Bake in a 325-degree oven for 20 to 24 minutes, until crusts are golden brown. Cool five to 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack.






Mini Blueberry Tarts


2 cups fresh blueberries

1/3 cup sugar

4 teaspoons cornstarch

2 sheets refrigerated pie crust

1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten


Crush half the blueberries. Sift together sugar and cornstarch. Add whole and crushed blueberries to sugar mixture and toss until berries are well coated. Set aside.

On a lightly floured surface, unroll crusts. Cut out six 4-1/2-inch circles, then press circles onto bottoms and up sides of greased muffin cups. Evenly spoon in blueberry mixture. 

Cut out six two-inch circles from remaining crust and place over filling. Brush with egg yolk.

Bake in a 425-degree oven for 13 to 17 minutes, until crust is golden and filling bubbles. Cool in pans 10 minutes, then run a knife around sides of muffin cups and place tarts on a serving plate.



Dutch Apple Pie Tartlets


1 cup finely chopped, peeled apple

1/4 cup lemon curd

2 1.9-ounce packages frozen miniature phyllo tart shells

For topping:

1/2 cup flour

3 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 cup cold butter

Confectioners’ sugar


In a small bowl, combine apples and lemon curd. Spoon into tart shells.

In another bowl, combine flour, sugar and cinnamon. Cut in the butter until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Spoon over apple mixture. Place on an ungreased baking sheet.

Bake in a 350-degree oven for 18 to 20 minutes, until golden brown. Cool on wire racks for five minutes. Dust with confectioners’ sugar. 

Serve warm or at room temperature. Refrigerate leftovers.



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