I Tried Smitten Kitchen’s Apple Pie Cookies and They Are THE Handheld Fall Treat

published Oct 3, 2021
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Smitten Kitchen's apple pie cookies on a baking tray on parchment

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Fall in the northeast means apple picking — which also means 22 pounds of apples in my kitchen right now. Over the years, I’ve made all sorts of apple-y treats with our annual apple haul: apple-filled kanelbullar (Swedish cardamom buns), apple compote-filled brioche buns, apple cider doughnuts, caramelized onion and apple focaccia, but never the most obvious baked good — pie! Despite being an avid and skilled baker, I don’t bake much pie (gasp!) It doesn’t fit into our daily life or holiday celebrations, and I like pie crust far more than pie fillings. I find pie-making fussy and not very fun. 

That being said…

This year, I discovered Smitten Kitchen’s apple pie cookies, which promise a “pie for crust lovers as the crust-to-filling ratio is off the charts.” I could do this! Cookies are my jam. These are cute by half and would make for a delightful lunchbox snack. 

Here’s how it went …

How to make Smitten Kitchen’s apple pie cookies

 I’ve never understood the idiom “easy as pie” — pie dough takes a bit of skill to get right, as do flavorful fillings that won’t soggy up the crust.

I love Smitten Kitchen because Deb (the blog’s author) always puts the anxious home baker — that’s me! — at ease, She advises, “As soon as your dough softens, transfer whatever you’re doing to the freezer for two minutes to chill it again. Soft dough is hard to work with …. It will also annoy you and make you think that you’re bad at working with pie dough but you’re not. You’re just warm-blooded and you need to put the pie dough back to chill for two minutes.” I followed her method to a T, using two forks and then my hands to form the buttery dough. 

While the dough chilled, I made the filling, which allowed for some improvisation. Deb suggests using cinnamon, nutmeg and “a pinch of any other spices you like in your apple pie”. I added more than a pinch of ground cardamom. After that: I rolled, assembled, and baked. 

My honest review

These are a bit fussy, too! But they are well worth the effort: the cookies are more crust than pie, they are adorable (Instagrammable!), and they make for the perfect after school or tea time snack. (Though I dare you to eat just one!) Deb’s dough-making method and her more detailed instructions were clear and illustrative. The result was an extra-flaky, extra-decadent crust. My addition of cardamom was clutch. The spice is complex and layered — sweet, spicy, floral; it pairs well with tart apples. 

This recipe hardly put a dent in my apple stash, though! The recipe only uses three apples, and I still have dozens more. 

Five tips for making Smitten Kitchen’s apple pie cookies: 

  1. Use frozen pie dough. Like you, I’m a busy parent/caregiver. Want these on the table in less than 30 minutes? Pull out the Pillsbury and have your child/children cut circles of dough from store-bought pie dough. No chilling; no rolling. Easy as pie, indeed. 
  2. Finely chop the apples for a more even crust-to-filling ratio. You might find these a bit more difficult to seal, and they will look more domed and pie-like rather than flat and cookie-like.
  3. Reduce the sugar. Two tablespoons (25 grams of sugar) in the crust make these more cookie-like, but I wouldn’t miss it. You can also halve the sugar in the filling (to 1/6 cup or 33 grams) if you are using a sweeter variety of apple. 
  4. Make bigger cookies! Deb’s cookies are 2 1/2 inches in diameter, but you can make larger cookies (hand pie-sized). You will have to adjust baking times to assure that the filling does not burn or dry out and the crust cooks through. 
  5. Go wild with spices. I’m a mistress of spices, and if I were to make these again, I might add cloves and black pepper and fennel — a sort of chai-spiced apple pie cookie. Anise, ginger, and rosemary all play well with apples.