By Clare Miers
Could pie, in miniature form, be eradicating the nation’s beloved cupcake as a trendy dessert? These small bites of heaven and the fact that tiny tartlets are great party favors makes miniature pies hot out of the oven right now. Pie pops mimic the cake-ball rage in their flavor-packed individual servings.
“I believe that pie is having its moment right now, but I certainly don’t think the cupcake is dead, says Jessie Olson, a sweet treats writer and illustrator. “It is just too happy a food to die off.” Olson illustrates pies, cakes, cupcakes, cookies, and ice cream for media like the popular Daily Candy and blogs like minipierevolution.blogspot.com.
Olson enjoys cooking sweets as much as drawing them. She made a batch of pie-pops recently using a pumpkin pie recipe and says that any full-size pie recipe that you like will work in making a batch of tiny pies.
“In making small pies — and this goes for all pies — you have to have a patient hand in it. Crust can be really unforgiving and intimidating,” says Chris Porter, aka “The Pie Guy,” who owns A la Mode in Seattle, Washington. “Take your time and work the dough. Care about what sort of ingredients you use and that always leads to success once it’s on the table.”
Porter uses mostly locally grown and organic ingredients to make his unique pies of all sizes. His inspiring pies, LolliPies, and petite pies are available for special orders in Seattle.
“Pie is a very traditional food, but it doesn’t have to be. We have a Star Spangled Sour cherry pie with stars on top. Pie is meant to be celebrated and whimsical and sort of fun so take some chances, even with the petite pies,” Porter says.
Other pie ideas
Professional and amateur pie bakers are popping up all over the country. Here are a few inspiring ideas to keep in mind:
- Any kind of pie filling is OK. Porter makes fabulous pie concoctions like white chocolate banana cream, French apple, apple and ginger pear with rosemary, blue Hawaiian, lemon macaroon tart, chocolate-caramel pecan tart, and rhubarb tart with brown butter streusel.
- Make your own tiny pies using basic pie dough recipes and virtually any filling you crave. Also, look to pie cook books for inspiration.
- Use a cupcake or tartlet pan. It helps to roll out the crust on special nonstick materials now available. In a pinch, you can use ready-made and ready-to-cut-out crusts from the grocery store.
- Use special cookie cutters and pastry wheels to create unique designs on the top of the crust. Try a Dutch apple crust or simple homemade whipped cream topped with chocolate almonds.
- Online resources offer tips on making and packaging up pies as party favors.
Pie in the sky
Making miniature pies is just simply downsizing the scale of the delish full-sized pies you love. The sky truly is the limit on flavors to try and remember that the mini pies have a little more crust to taste, which most crave. Dream up a pie filling or just rely on old family tried and true pie recipes and then, preheat the oven.