It seems that the new thing after cake pops are pie pops. Have you seen them anywhere?
I saw some in a photo as I scrolled through Facebook a few days ago, with a brief description saying they were basically small, bite size pie pastry ‘pops’ with various fillings. I thought the idea was cute and decided I would play and bake some.
I am not particularly into American pie pastry much, with few exceptions, so I decided to use my classic Italian pasta frolla (short crust) recipe instead.
As for the fillings… well, I like variety so I thought: berries, apple & cinnamon, lemon curd and Nutella would make a yummy selection. Actually, the original plan had also included vanilla custard, rhubarb & strawberries, and a couple of others, but I realized that was going to be just a little over the top.
Here are the recipes for the ones I did, but you can use your own favorite pastry recipe and choose your favorite fillings. And because once they were ready they made me think of tea, I photographed them in an afternoon tea setting. Aren’t those roses beautiful?
yields ca 35-40 pops
PASTA FROLLA/SHORT CRUST PASTRY
– 500 gr. (1 lb. + 1.7 oz., or 3 & 1/2 cups) flour
– 2 eggs + 2 yolks
– 200 gr. (7.2 oz., or 1 cup) sugar
– 250 gr. (9 0z. or 2 sticks + 2 Tablespoons) cold butter
– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
– 1 pinch salt
– finely grated peel of 2 lemons or oranges, or one of each
– a little iced water if necessary
– 1 packet (284 gr./10 oz.) frozen mixed berries, for cooking I find frozen are better, but if you have an abundance of fresh, by all means, use fresh
– 100 gr. (1/2 cup) sugar
– 1 teaspoon corn starch, sieved
APPLE & CINNAMON FILLING
– 2 medium apples (I used Fuji), peeled, cored and sliced into small pieces
– 1 Tablespoon butter
– 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
– 2 Tablespoons sugar
LEMON CURD FILLING
– 4 large egg yolks
– 150 gr. (5.3 oz.) sugar
– juice of 2 lemons, passed through a sieve (90 gr. ca.)
– 60 gr. (2.11 oz) softened butter
– 1 pinch salt
– 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
For the NUTELLA FILLING you simply need a small jar of Nutella. Or you can buy a large one and eat some with a spoon – which is really the best way. *wink*
To complete, you will also need:
– 1 egg yolk
– a little milk
– 1 cup powder sugar
Let’s make the pasta frolla. BTW, I apologize for the quality of the prep images. The kitchen in my new condo is small and tucked well away from the windows. No amount of added light, or flash light (aargh! – hate that!) or post processing on the images seems to make much difference. Besides having hardly any prepping surface, that surface is also white, which does not help. So bear with me until I figure something out that won’t require much space or my moving again (for now).
1. In a large prepping bowl mix the flour, sugar, salt and grated citrus peel. Add the cold butter in small pieces and work it with a fork (which is cooler than your hands) until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs and you have developed forearm muscles. Or you can use a food processor. I already have a rice cooker, a steamer, a juicer and a big red Kitchen Aid mixer, all tucked away into closets. My apartment cannot take yet one more appliance, so I did this the old fashioned way.
2. In a smaller bowl, beat the eggs and egg yolks lightly with the vanilla extract, add them to the flour/butter mixture and start stirring. Flip the whole thing onto a lightly floured surface and continue blending with your hands, kneading the pastry until smooth and holding nicely together. Do not over work it, or it will become hard and lose its flaky tenderness after it is baked.
The result is a rather large ball of pastry, so it is best to cut it in half for ease of use. Pat those halves down to flat rounds (about 1 inch thick) as it will be easier to roll them out, then wrap them in cling wrap and place them in the refrigerator to rest for about 45-60 minutes. They can be refrigerated for longer, of course, up to 2-3 days, but then you will have to leave them out on the counter for a little while to make them soft enough to roll out. If you are planning ahead, you can also freeze them for up to three months. In that case, besides the cling wrap, I would protect them further by wrapping them in an extra layer of strong foil. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator.
3. Preheat the oven to about 360°F/180°C.
Remove the pastry from the refrigerator and roll it out on a floured surface, using a floured rolling pin, to a thickness of about 2mm. It needs to be think enough to not be chunky, but thick enough to not break. Using a cutter of choice, cut out round shapes in the desired size. As you can see in the image I used an upside-down glass as it was the size I wanted. My pastry circles were 9 cm. (3.5″) in diameter. You want the pie pops to be small – or they would not be pops – but not so small that there is hardly any filling – which is the important part, wink, wink!
4. Remove the excess pastry from the cut outs, press together and set aside, covered, to roll out again in a minute. Using a small metal spatula (see pic above) loosen the pastry rounds to make sure they do not stick to the work surface, then top each one with some of the filling – as much as possible, but not so much that you cannot seal the pops – and then carefully pinch them closed, using a little iced water to lightly dampen the edges as needed.
Place them, pinched side up, on a baking dish lined with parchment paper, then place that in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes. Roll out the rest of the pastry dough and repeat. Gently rework the pastry cut out remains and re-roll out to use. Do this until they will no longer hold together or look really miserable. You will know when that is.
5. In a small glass bowl, beat 1 egg yolk with 1 Tablespoon cold milk. Remove the baking trays with the pie pops from the refrigerator. Using a pastry brush, brush the pie pops with egg & milk mixture, then place the baking tray on the center rack in the oven and bake the pops for about 20-25 minutes, or until golden. Remember, each oven is a little different, so times may vary. Bake the pops one tray at a time while keeping the other(s) in the refrigerator. Place the baked pie pops on a cookie rack to cool completely.
6. In another bowl, mix the powder sugar with a little cold water. Add the water in very small increments and mix until the glaring sugar is smooth and of a thick flowing consistency. Should it get too liquid and runny, just add more powder sugar until it is returned to a proper consistency. Using a spoon, drizzle the cooled pie pops with sugar glaze. They are now ready to pop in your mouth or share with friends, or both. I ate one of each and gave the rest away – as usual.
BTW: the finished pie pops can certainly be frozen for up to three months. This makes them a perfect treat for when you have company, as you can defrost them as needed in no time.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Let’s now go back to the fillings, which the process above assumed were ready. I will start with the LEMON CURD, for which I have no photos as I got frustrated with the light. The next time I move, I want a nice big kitchen with lots of window light! Can you say jackpot?
The process of making lemon curd is similar to that of custard, except lemon juice is used instead of milk.
1. In a stainless steel saucepan with a heavy bottom, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar and the pinch of salt until light, fluffy and ribbon-like when the whisk is lifted. Slowly add the lemon juice and keep stirring with the whisk. Place on moderate heat and bring gently to a simmer while constantly stirring until thickened and forming a veil on the spoon when dipped in and lifted. Do not boil.
2. Remove from heat and add the softened butter in pieces, blending carefully with the whisk. Strain through a medium/fine is into a glass or stainless steel bowl, then blend in the finely grated peel. Let cool to room temperature then refrigerate for up to 4-5 days.
That was easy, wasn’t it?
Now onto the BERRY FILLING, which is even easier. As you can see I snapped a couple of pics above my stove, which is when I got frustrated.
1. Place the frozen berries in a stainless steel saucepan on medium/high heat. Cover with a lid and cook for a few minutes while the fruit heats up and defrosts. Mix the sugar with the corn starch and add to the simmering berries, stirring to blend. Reduce the heat and cook uncovered until the berries are a thickened but juicy compote. Pour into a glass bowl and set aside to cool to room temperature. The berry compote can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. It is almost like a jam, so it will keep because of the sugar.
APPLE & CINNAMON FILLING, easier yet.
1. Melt the butter in a sauté pan, add the sliced apples, sugar and cinnamon and flip or stir. Cook covered on medium heat for a couple of minutes, then uncover them and cook for another couple of minutes. You want some juice but not too much. Depending on the apples you will use, you might need a little corn starch here, too. I did not.
NUTELLA FILLING: open the jar and try not to eat too much of it before you need to use it.
Here is a Nutella story for you. I was a senior in high school in a boarding school for girls run by nuns – oh-the-drahma! – when one day one of the teachers called in sick at the last minute. That meant that a couple of the junior classes would be unattended for an hour or two. The other teachers and the headmaster were scrambling around trying to find a solution quickly, and they decided that one of my class mates and I were it. We were asked to go to those classes and just supervise while the girls did their homework. We looked at one another trying to remain serious and headed out, prepared for some weirdness as most of the girls we were going to be supervising were inmates like us and, therefore, friends.
Apparently I am a flexible substitute teacher, as I let them interact in low tones of voice – so we would not all get into trouble, read, prep for the next class, chat, basically do what they wanted. For a couple of them – one of which was the sister of the other class mate elected teacher for the morning – was to open a jar of Nutella, dig out big dollops with their fingers and slurp them up. I still see the scene clearly, and I still laugh like I did that day.
Do you like Nutella? Are you going to make some pie pops? And which are your favorite fillings? Maybe you have more ideas, and I would love to know in the comments.
— — — — —
This recipe was originally published on May 24th 2013 in my Food Journey blog, which is now integrated into this one.