Hand Pies with Gratitude (and Caramel!)

When I was a kid, I used to love a good candied apple on a stick. The adult version that I’ve come up with is much simpler where I dip an apple slice into a cup of melted caramel. Crunchy, sweet, and gooey! For this recipe, I wanted to take it to the next level and wrap that perfect pairing of apple and caramel into a pie shell. It’s almost like a mini apple pie, which is practically synonymous with Thanksgiving. I personalized these darlings by slapping some letters on the top making these the perfect mini hand pies that everyone can be thankful for. Serve ’em up for dessert or an appetizer, or save them for a fun way to say muchos gracias.

Hand Pie with Thanks Mucho lettering


‘Tis the season for apples! I love the apple varieties available this time of year, even in LA. Pink Lady, Gala, Delicious, Granny Smith. For this recipe, I chose Gala apples. You’ll want to use three of them for this recipe, peeled and chopped into quarters. I’m a fan of the apple slicer tool (splurge on a nicer brand like OXO since the cheaper ones have dull, flimsy blades). Add some cinnamon, lemon juice, dash of high quality store-bought caramel (keep it easy for yourself), light brown sugar, and cornstarch. Set aside to begin working on the dough.


Most importantly, you’re going to want to make sure your dough is chilled at least a few hours before you assemble. The refrigerator is your friend!  It needs to be chilled and firm or you’ve got nothing to work with. Form the dough into a square, wrap in plastic, and then place in the refrigerator (your new-found friend) for at least a few hours. You can also choose to make it up to 3 days ahead and keep it in the fridge. When you’re ready to roll, sprinkle some flour on the surface, and work quickly!  That luscious butter in the dough gets ‘sticky and melty’ to work with once it gets to room temperature.  Go speedy go!
Letter cut outs for the top of the hand pie


  1. For the letters: Take about 1/4 of your total dough, roll it out, and cut your letters. I use Ateco letter cutters. Set letters on plastic wrap, and toss ’em back in the fridge for 10 minutes (ok, don’t really toss them!). The letters are completely optional. Yes, they’re festive, and they’re not too hard to fit on the top of the pie. But they do take a little extra time.
  2. For the mini pie shells: Roll out the dough, cut out 4″ circles and carefully place in the fridge for 15 minutes.  This just chills them enough for the final step.

Egg wash the hand pie dough

Take the egg wash and brush around the perimeter of the 4″ circles of dough.

Add a dollop of apple mixture


Add a dollop of yummy apple filling in the center of the egg washed circles of dough.

Fold the apples and caramel in the hand pie

Fold and crimp with a fork to seal the hand pie. Don’t forget to poke 3 holes on the top with a knife. It’s muy importante to add a release for the air.

Fold and crimp the hand pie


If you’re going for it, the words that is, first make sure you egg wash the outside of the dough. Adhere the letters to the top of the hand pies. After you’ve got your word complete, egg wash the letters again and dust with sanding sugar.

Poke the hand pie with a knife

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes. I would love to see what words people come up with. You have about 6 letters max with the 4″ rounds of dough. This could translate for Valentine’s Day with LOVE on top, or 2018 for a New Year’s party, or names would be fun, too. CINDY would fit! Just have fun with it!

Hand pies with apple and caramel



Hand Pies with Gratitude

Photos by: Maria Hedrick Photography

Hand Pies with Gratitude
Hand Pies with Gratitude

Thanks Hand Pies

By TheSweetNerd  

November 26, 2018

  • Yields: 24 Hand Pies



3 apples, chopped into small cubes

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon caramel sauce (store bought)

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1/8 cup light brown sugar


3 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2" pieces

1/2 cup ice cold water


1 egg

2 tablespoons water

R & M letter cutters

4" round cutter

Sanding sugar



1Mix all ingredients together.


1Food Processor: Pulse flour, sugar, and salt. Add butter pieces and pulse until texture is like coarse meal. Add the water a bit at a time until dough comes together in clumps. (You may not use all the water, but you'll use most of it). Form into a square, wrap in plastic, and chill until firm (about 2 hours). Can be made 3 days ahead. Let stand at room temperature for 10-15 minutes before rolling out.


1Roll out dough to be a quarter inch thick and cut out 4" circles. Leave 1/4 of dough to roll out for letters to decorate (optional). Refrigerate.

2Roll dough, cut letters. Refrigerate.

3Prep egg wash.

4Start with dough round and brush egg wash on the perimeter of the circle.

5Add dollop of apple filling in the center of the dough.

6Fold and crimp with a fork to seal the hand pie. With a knife, poke 3 small holes on the top.

7Egg wash the outside of the dough. Adhere letters to hand pie.

8Egg wash letters. Dust with sanding sugar.

9Bake at 350 degrees F for 25 to 30 minutes.



  • Tessa
    7 years ago

    These look easy enough for me – and both of my kid’s names can fit!

    • Cindy "TheSweetNerd" Rodriguez
      7 years ago

      You should add Tessa on there, too! 😉

  • 7 years ago

    Adorable, creative & fun! Love it!

    • Cindy "TheSweetNerd" Rodriguez
      7 years ago

      Thanks Colleen!

  • 7 years ago

    I love these hand pies. Thanks mucho for sharing the recipe! 🙂

    • Cindy "TheSweetNerd" Rodriguez
      7 years ago

      Ha! Nice one Maggie. Thanks mucho to you.

  • 7 years ago

    Ahhhhhh! These are so cute. And Food processor for the win!

    • Cindy "TheSweetNerd" Rodriguez
      7 years ago

      Yes! You said it, girl.

  • 7 years ago

    Nice little pies. Reminds me of a German pie I make. So good that you have a from scratch recipe for the dough.

    • Cindy "TheSweetNerd" Rodriguez
      7 years ago

      Thanks Roxana, sometimes I cheat and splurge on the store bought stuff, but this recipe is easy and quick.

  • Such a fun idea! I love hand pies and these apple caramel ones are perfection 🙂

    • Cindy "TheSweetNerd" Rodriguez
      7 years ago

      Thanks Jennifer, this is my favorite filling by far.

  • I love hand pies Cindy! These are adorable. I love the extra effort you put in with the lettering! Makes them so special!

    • Cindy "TheSweetNerd" Rodriguez
      7 years ago

      Thanks Mary Ann, truth be told it is a little more work but not much. And it does make the little pies so much more special.

  • Lorna Soonhee
    7 years ago

    I love how personalized these are! Definitely want to try them out.

    • Cindy "TheSweetNerd" Rodriguez
      7 years ago

      Thanks Lorna – your name will fit! 😉

  • Kendall
    7 years ago

    I love everything about apple pie (bc I don’t like pumpkin pie) but these look super delicious! I’ll have to veganize them and bake them for my family this week!

  • Love the little messages! Great idea for placecards!

  • These are absolutely adorable, Cindy….and I don’t know what it is about it, but I love the name ‘hand pies’ – sounds so cozy to me 🙂 Have a wonderful Thanksgiving! XO

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