In Which I Make Ice Cube Apple Pies

In which I try my hand at making something that looked so fun and easy on the Internet. Because it seemed like a good idea at the time.  :-)

In this posting, I share my experience with trying out a recipe I found online. Also: here are the short video and the recipe for making ice cube apple pies, should you wish to try some yourself!

A couple of weeks ago, I saw it for the first time on Facebook: a charming minute-and-a-half video showing how to make ice cube apple pies. I was instantly hooked. I watched the video several times. It made me drool. It looked so easy. I knew it was something I'd eventually have to try.

You know how I love to make apple pies. But a pie is so big, and it's a grand endeavor to take on. The video showed how easy it would be to make tiny pies. Itty bitty ones, in fact. At the end of the video, the tiny golden pie-nuggets were dipped in caramel sauce and covered in ice cream. "Get in my belly!" I thought. I had to have some.

But I couldn't find any ice cube trays at home. I knew we had some. I sent my husband in search of them, and last week, he found a pair. Pretty, pink ice cube trays. Plastic. Possibly never used. Both fridges I've owned since moving into my house in 2004 have had automatic ice cube makers; there's never been a need for ice cube trays.

"But don't you need METAL ones, if you're going to be baking in them?" he asked. I explained that the tray would merely be used for shaping the little pies, and they would then be placed on a pan and baked, like cookies.

So I washed the ice cube trays, and I checked the list of ingredients: 2 apples, 1 tsp cinnamon, 3 tbsp brown sugar, 1.5 tsp corn starch, a single pie crust, one egg for egg wash, a bit of white sugar. All stuff I had! I had been waiting for the right time, and on Sunday afternoon, I finally found an open slot.

I gathered my ingredients. I cleaned my surface. I put my hair up. I got out my bowls, measuring spoons, mixing utensils, wax paper, my pizza cutter, and my rolling pin. I washed my hands. Then, I made my own pie crust from scratch - just flour, salt, butter flavored Crisco, and water.

Since my apples were small, I selected 3 instead of 2. I peeled them and diced them small. Then I started mixing things in: the corn starch, the brown sugar, the cinnamon. "That doesn't look like much cinnamon," my husband said. I increased the cinnamon. I added another tbsp of brown sugar, just for good measure. It was starting to look and smell good.

Then it was time to line my ice cube tray with crust. I took a bit more than half of the crust I'd made, saving the other part for later, and rolled it out with my rolling pin. And here is where my ice cube apple pies hit their first snag. For the crust was not flexible enough to be pushed down into the tray very easily.

There was not quite enough of it, either. I pushed my knuckle down in, like in the video; and tore a huge hole in my first ice cube liner. Tried it with another; same result.

I knew I had to take matters into my own hands. Like a surgeon, I pulled tiny bits of crust from the crust-lump I'd saved, and applied them like skin grafts, lining each ice cube with crust, tamping it down neatly and firmly with my thumbs. As I did so, I began to think . . . Gee, I wonder how well this stuff will come out of there when it's time.

Then I added the apple-cinnamon-brown-sugar filling, neatly placing a teaspoon or two in each cube, then filling each one to the top. When I was done, it looked lovely. I had hope: Well, maybe these WILL turn out pretty cool!

It was then that I realized that I couldn't find our little brush for brushing the egg wash on top. I looked in the cupboard where that sort of thing would usually be. Nothing.

So we made an executive decision. My husband got out a new toothbrush and pulled it out of its packaging; I washed it off and used that instead. Brush, brush, brush: egg wash along the top of the crust.

What remained of my single pie crust was looking pretty skimpy by now. But I rolled it firmly. It was thin. No, it was beyond that: anorexic. The skinniest pie crust I'd ever seen. I knew I should make more crust but I just didn't feel like it, this late in the game.

I placed the thin crust on top of the ice cube tray, lined it up, stretched it out as best I could, and then applied the rolling pin firmly, just like in the video. Only . . . SPLURK!

That was the sound of apple-cinnamon-brown-sugar filling splurking out over the top and making a fine mess on the table. Oh well, no baking project is complete without a little bit of a mess; am I right?

So I tidied up the area, wiped away the sticky-goopy stuff, and prepared to remove the tiny apple pies from the ice cube tray. I placed the tray upside-down atop a sheet of wax paper, twisted it firmly, and . . . nothing. I tried it again. Nothing again. Then I tried harder. Finally, I whacked it with all of my strength. Nothing. Those tiny apple pies were stuck!

This, friends, is where I started to lose patience. I could feel my blood pressure mounting. My face was turning red. I felt vaguely anxious. What if I couldn't even get the tiny pies out of the ice cube tray? I finally decided to use a butter knife to pry them out.

And that I did, one by one. And of course, the knife tore the crust, and every single tiny pie now had a hole in it, which I knew would leak stuff and make a mess in the oven. *sigh* I put some more egg wash on top, and finished up by sprinkling a bit of sugar and cinnamon on top of each.

Finally, there they were: 14 tiny, messy, ugly, lumpy, ice cube apple pies, ready to go into the oven. This time I was a bit smarter. I slathered vegetable oil all over the tray before I put them on it. Then I stuck the whole tray in the oven and set the timer.

Ten minutes later, my husband walked up the front steps. "Something smells really good in here!" Of course, it was the tiny pies. They were starting to make the house smell great, as apple pies of ANY size are wont to do.

When the timer went off, I pulled the tray of tiny pies, now looking like weird little mountains, out of the oven and set them on top of it to cool. Of course, a bit of goop had come out of each of them, and the tray was now covered in sticky stuff, which quickly hardened into a rock-like substance, making it impossible to get them off the tray without injuring them even further.

But I finally did. I'd tell you that I used a crow bar to do it, but they actually did come off with a standard plastic spatula, applied firmly and with a bit of elbow grease. I hate to admit that when I was done, I was more than a little bit relieved to have my baking project behind me.

My husband showed up at that point. "These are just little apple pies. They're for us. Go ahead and have some," I said. He wandered off with two of them; came back for more. "You should try them," he said; "They're actually quite good." And I did. And they were. They were tasty but ugly.

And, by the way, the recipe states that it feeds 12. My own ice cube tray makes 14 individual cubes. I want to know what sort of math they're using to figure that this recipe feeds 12 people.

Each person would get just a smidge more than one individual pie-nugget, which could not possibly be enough! Also, the estimated prep time of 25 minutes was low. I started around 1:15 and ended up with a finished product about 2 hours later.

I took pictures throughout the project, as you might have guessed, and I posted them on Facebook Sunday evening, along with comments about my experience. I enjoyed my 15 minutes of fame on Facebook that night, as I was The Girl Who Actually Tried That Thing on the Internet; and everyone wanted to hear about my experiences.

A few hours later, after responding to comments on Facebook - yes, I should have sprayed the ice cube tray with cooking spray first, I should have used a bit more crust (and/or made a more malleable crust), or even BOUGHT a pre-made crust, or maybe I should have purchased a different kind of ice cube tray - I had another conversation with my husband, which I am sharing below.

Me: Well, we're all trying to figure out why I failed.
Husband: FAILED!? WHAT DO YOU MEAN FAILED? THEY'RE WONDERFUL. You need to interview the guy who's eating them!
Me: I'll be sure to tell the Internet you said so.

So - above is a series of photos of the ice cube apple pie adventure. Yes, in the end, they are ugly, and they do not look anything at all like the adorable little golden pie-nuggets in the charming video.

But my advice is this: Close your eyes, stop worrying about what they look like, and EAT one! They're delicious! And so little that you will probably come back for more.

The soundtrack: Jon Bon Jovi, with Ugly.

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