Apple pie has always been a staple for me during the fall season, especially whenever I had the opportunity to treat myself to the cinnamon-and-sugar-coated mini pies from fast-food restaurants. I’ve reimagined this classic by making it at home and implementing shortcuts, like store-bought puff pastry, and new flavors, like a chai-spiced sugar to coat the fried pies. These treats are delicious fresh out of the fryer, and leftovers can be reheated in the microwave or oven for up to 2 days. Apples are the star flavor in this recipe, but hand pies are versatile; you can swap in your favorite fruits like stone fruits or berries.
Remove the puff pastry from the freezer and let it sit on the countertop for 30 minutes to defrost.
Put the butter in a medium saucepan and place over medium heat. Once the butter is melted, add the apples, maple syrup, vanilla, lemon juice, salt, and 1/4 cup of the sugar and 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon. Stir and cook until the apples are tender, 8 to 10 minutes.
Combine the cornstarch and 2 teaspoons water in a small bowl and mix until a smooth paste forms. Pour the cornstarch mixture into the apples and continue cooking until the apples become glossy and a thick sauce forms, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer the apples to a heatproof bowl to cool, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the sugar coating by mixing together the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and remaining 2 teaspoons cinnamon with the allspice, cardamom and cloves in a medium bowl. Set aside.
Line a sheet pan with a wire rack and set aside. Fill a large Dutch oven with 4 inches of vegetable oil and place over medium heat. Clip a deep-fry thermometer to the side of the pot and heat to 375 degrees F.
While the oil is heating, begin to prepare the hand pies. Lightly dust a clean surface with flour and place the puff pastry sheets on it. Cut each sheet into 6 even pieces, resulting in 24 total squares. Place a tablespoon of apple filling in the center of 12 pastry squares; don’t overfill the squares or place the filling too close to the edges. Top each square with a remaining pastry square. Crimp the edges with your fingers or a fork to seal and ensure the filling doesn't seep out when frying.
Once the oil reaches 375 degrees F, begin to fry the hand pies. Depending on the size of your Dutch oven, fry 3 to 4 hand pies at a time. Cook until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove the pies from the oil with a slotted spoon and transfer to the prepared sheet pan to drain. While still hot, generously sprinkle the pies on both sides with the spiced sugar.
Allow the pies to cool for at least 5 minutes before serving.
To ensure freshness for up to 2 days after frying, store the completely cooled pies in an airtight container.
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