Appetizers & Snacks/ Cookies/ Desserts & Sweets/ Fall/ Vegetarian

Salted Caramel Apple Pie Cookies (Mini Hand Pies)

September 17, 2020 (Last Updated: September 23, 2020)

If you are looking for a perfect fall treat, salted caramel apple pie cookies will hit all the right spots. This mini version of the classic has lots of flaky crust and a healthier homemade coconut caramel sauce all in one handheld pocket that is perfect for parties or lunches.

Salted Caramel Apple Pie Cookies | YummyAddiction.com

This recipe was originally published on September 22, 2014, and was republished in September 2020 to add better quality photos, re-test the recipe, and add more helpful tips. The original recipe was made entirely with all-purpose flour and here is how it looked like, if you’re curious.

Salted caramel apple hand pies

As much as I love summer, there is something about the cozy comfort of fall desserts that is always so satisfying. Pears, apples, cinnamon, caramel, nuts, pastry – everything that loves long baking times and is perfect with a cup of tea or coffee on a chilly afternoon.

But is there anything better than a juicy apple pie? How about mini apple hand pies drenched in healthy salted (and dairy-free!) caramel? That sure sounds perfect to me. It’s the epitome of fall; crisp apple, whole wheat flaky pastry, and sweet coconut caramel, all in one handheld package.

Mini apple hand pies being filled

Of course, I had to make it a little bit healthy with a 50/50 blend of whole grain flour and switching out the standard salted caramel for some coconut caramel that is completely vegan. Admittedly, you can’t call this that healthy of a dessert, but the nutritional value is certainly significantly better than it used to be. Now you get some extra fiber and proteins from the crust and the caramel sauce has no cholesterol – or regular sugar!

What type of apple should you use?

With so many varieties of apple that are available in fall, it might be hard to figure out the best choice for each recipe. There’s a good guide to apple varieties for baking with my apple enchiladas, but specifically for this recipe I recommend something tart. With so much caramel and the nutty flavor of whole wheat, you want something with a flavor that stand out.

The best apples choices would be the ever-popular Granny Smiths or Braeburns. Both varieties are tart, with lots of flavor, and a firm structure that holds up well. They are perfect to balance out the sweet and salty caramel and flaky whole grain pastry.

Salted caramel apple pie cookies on a tray

How to keep your pie dough flaky

Speaking of flaky pastry, if your favorite part of a pie is the crust, then apple pie cookies are exactly right for you. They have a very high crust to filling ratio. And because of that, you want to make sure your pastry is just right.

The best way to do that is keep your pastry cold! Chilling and limiting the amount you work with the dough are critical parts of a flaky pie crust. Here are some other tips for perfect pastry. They make working with my favorite whole wheat pie dough recipe even more successful. It’s perfectly flaky and tender, but just strong enough to hold in all that luscious filling.

A plate of salted caramel apple pie cookies

Making a perfectly smooth healthy caramel sauce

When avoiding refined sugars and dairy products, it can be hard to get that same perfect gooey consistency that a typical caramel has. Heating up any kind of sweetener is risky business and very prone to unpleasant crunchy crystals forming. To prevent this, many standard caramel recipes include corn syrup.

But like with granulated sugar, it has been a recent goal to avoid such highly processed products. So, I’ve borrowed a healthy salted caramel sauce recipe from Lisa from Downshiftology that is still smooth and silky, but has no corn syrup, no granulated sugar, and no butter or cream. It is all in the technique of making the caramel.

Stack of mini apple hand pies

Here are a few of my best caramel making tips for a successful dairy-free caramel:

  • Use a pot with a really heavy bottom: This helps the heat distribute evenly so that no portion of the sauce starts burning before the rest caramelizes. An enamel or cast-iron pot is great for this.
  • A medium to large pot is better: Also, use a larger pot than you think looks right for the volume of ingredients. The deeper your caramel is in the pan, the more likely the bottom portion is to get bitter before the sauce at the top gets to that perfect flavor. Stirring just a little bit every so often helps with this too.
  • Stir gently, not vigorously: You want to stir just enough to keep the heat and dissolved coconut sugar evenly distributed. But too much and you will add air pockets where crystals will form.
  • If crystals form on the sides of the pot, cover it: If a couple crystals are forming up the sides of the pot after the sugar melts, cover it with a lid for 15-30 seconds. The steam will condense and wash them back down the sides. Anytime crystals start forming, more and more will build on it.
  • When in doubt, keep the heat low and don’t walk away: As your caramel cooks, you want it to be just at that point of simmering, no more. And while it does take a while for the caramelizing to happen, I advise against leaving the kitchen or becoming too distracted. Especially after that 20 minute point, you want to keep a close eye because caramel likes to burn.

But, if you are careful, you will have the best tasting, silkiest coconut caramel sauce you have ever eaten. It is completely worth it for such an amazing tasting healthy caramel apple pie cookie. With the whole wheat and fresh apples you could almost convince yourself that it is a good choice for breakfast.

Salted Caramel Apple Pie Cookies

Salted Caramel Apple Pie Cookies

These mini apple hand pies are delicious cookies made with whole wheat flour and doused in salted coconut caramel. They're perfect for lunches, snacking and more!
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Servings: 24 cookies
Calories: 198kcal
Author: Jovita | Yummy Addiction

Ingredients

For the dough:

  • 1 1/2 cups (225g) whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cups (200g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons coconut sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (230g) unsalted butter , cold, cut into cubes
  • 2 eggs , whisked
  • 1 tablespoon milk

For the caramel sauce:

  • 1 13.5 oz. (400ml) can full-fat coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the filling:

  • 2 large apples , cored, peeled and small diced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • pinch of ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch

For the egg wash:

  • 1 egg , whisked with 1 teaspoon water
  • sugar for sprinkling

Instructions

The dough:

  • Add both flours, coconut sugar, and salt in a large bowl and mix until combined. Add the butter and use a pastry cutter or two forks to work the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles crumbs. Pour whisked eggs and a tablespoon of milk into the butter/flour mixture and mix thoroughly. Alternatively, you can do the dough in a food processor.
  • Gather the dough into a ball. If it doesn't stick together, add another tablespoon of milk until a ball can be formed. Knead the dough on a floured surface for a few minutes (add more all-purpose flour as you knead, if it's extremely sticky). Form the dough into 4 balls, wrap in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to chill for around 30 minutes. A chilled dough is easier to handle.

The caramel:

  • In a saucepan, over medium heat, combine together the coconut milk, coconut sugar, and sea salt. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to a light simmer. Simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. During the last 5 minutes of cooking time, stir more frequently to mix in the darker caramel bits from the bottom into the sauce.
  • The sauce is ready when it has turned dark amber in color and coats the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat and stir in the coconut oil and vanilla extract. Set aside to cool.

The filling:

  • Toss the diced apples and lemon juice in a medium bowl. In a separate, small bowl, stir together the sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cornstarch. Pour this mixture over the apples and gently toss to combine. Set aside.
  • Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Assembling apple pie cookies:

  • Work with one dough ball at a time (keep the others refrigerated till ready to use). On a floured surface roll out the dough into a thin sheet (about 1/8 to 1/4-inch thick). Use a 2 1/2 to 3 inch round cookie cutter to cut as many rounds as possible from the dough. Transfer them to the prepared baking sheet and repeat the process with the second dough ball. When the baking sheet is full, put it in the refrigerator. Repeat the process with the remaining dough balls. Refrigerate the dough scraps if they become too stretchy and soft. I usually place it in the freezer, so it chills faster.
  • Place about a heaping teaspoon or so of the apple filling in the center of the circle. Add a dollop of salted caramel on top (don’t add too much or it will leak out during baking). Layer a second round of dough on top and press the edges to seal. Repeat this process with the remaining circles and the filling. Refrigerate the cookies for about 30 minutes or until ready to bake.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • When all mini pies are chilled, crimp the edges of each pie with a fork. Lightly brush the tops of the cookies with the egg wash, then sprinkle them with the sugar. Use a paring knife to cut slits in the top of each pie.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the cookies are puffed and golden brown (watch carefully as they can burn quickly). Remove from the oven and let sit for a minute or two before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Drizzle more caramel on top of each cookie. Enjoy!

Notes

1. The caramel sauce adapted from Downshiftology.
2. This recipe can be made entirely with all-purpose flour (that’s how I first made it a few years ago). Just substitute 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour with the same amount of plain flour (so it will be 3 cups of flour in total for this recipe). You can check out the image of how the all-purpose version of these apple pie cookies looks like at the beginning of the post.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cookie | Calories: 198kcal | Carbohydrates: 20.4g | Protein: 3.1g | Fat: 12.2g | Cholesterol: 43.6mg | Sodium: 89.2mg | Sugar: 7.9g
Course: Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: American
Keyword: caramel apple pie cookies, mini apple hand pies
Nutrition Facts
Salted Caramel Apple Pie Cookies
Amount Per Serving (1 cookie)
Calories 198 Calories from Fat 110
% Daily Value*
Fat 12.2g19%
Cholesterol 43.6mg15%
Sodium 89.2mg4%
Carbohydrates 20.4g7%
Sugar 7.9g9%
Protein 3.1g6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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26 Comments

  • Reply
    Crystal | Apples & Sparkle
    September 22, 2014 at 11:05 pm

    Oh my goodness Jovita! I have to try these, I think I might forgo my usual apple pie this year and make these little gems instead!

    • Reply
      Jovita
      September 25, 2014 at 9:28 am

      You should, Crystal! Trust me, they are REALLY yummy… 🙂

  • Reply
    Candace
    September 25, 2014 at 10:11 pm

    How many does this recipe make?

    • Reply
      Jovita
      September 26, 2014 at 6:47 am

      Hi Candace! It makes about 20-24 cookies.

  • Reply
    Broma Bakery
    September 26, 2014 at 4:31 pm

    Mini things are my faaavorite! These look amazingly delicious

    • Reply
      Jovita
      September 26, 2014 at 4:46 pm

      Totally agree with you, mini things are sooo cute!

  • Reply
    Sarah
    October 5, 2014 at 10:39 pm

    As much as I love homemade dough, I don’t have the patience for it. Can you rework a store bought pie crust into little sections for the cookies? Thanks!

    • Reply
      Jovita
      October 13, 2014 at 7:04 pm

      Hi Sarah! I didn’t try a store bought pie crust, but it should work too. Just check the package directions in case there’s anything different than my instructions. If you try, let me know how it worked. 😉

  • Reply
    ami@naivecookcooks
    October 16, 2014 at 12:51 am

    Gosh girl! Fall dessert at its best!! These look super delicious!

    • Reply
      Jovita
      October 16, 2014 at 10:36 am

      Thank you so much, Ami!

  • Reply
    dina
    October 16, 2014 at 3:33 am

    i love the caramel. these are so cute!

  • Reply
    Thalia @ butter and brioche
    October 16, 2014 at 3:42 am

    What a delicious idea an apple pie cookie is! I have never made a recipe like this before – definitely need to try it out in my kitchen!

    • Reply
      Jovita
      October 16, 2014 at 10:18 am

      Thank you Thalia, you’re so sweet!

  • Reply
    Sarah
    October 17, 2014 at 5:38 pm

    These sound amazing, but my boyfriend doesn’t like salted caramel. Should I just leave off the salt in the caramel?

    • Reply
      Jovita
      October 19, 2014 at 8:28 am

      Hi Sarah! Yes, just leave off the salt.

  • Reply
    Gail
    October 21, 2014 at 8:51 pm

    These sound absolutely wonderful!!! Thank you so much for sharing this recipe and I can’t wait to try them! I’m sure they will be the new family favorite recipe!!

    • Reply
      Jovita
      November 13, 2014 at 8:09 am

      Thank you, Gail! You’re so sweet!

  • Reply
    Liza
    October 27, 2014 at 12:57 am

    My brother and I made this recipe today and it was amazing!
    Everyone in the house was fighting to eat them. I don’t think they are going to last. They are so good! thank you!5 stars

    • Reply
      Jovita
      November 13, 2014 at 8:19 am

      You’re welcome, Liza! I’m so glad to hear you all loved them! 🙂

  • Reply
    TishaCM
    October 31, 2014 at 4:31 pm

    I am soooo doing this! I’ve been on the hunt for an apple-something recipe. But this is the one that I am doing. I love empanadas, I have tons of apples from our apple-picking weekend and I love salted caramel! Bingo!

    • Reply
      Jovita
      November 13, 2014 at 9:32 am

      I saw on your website that you have tried these empanadas already. I’m so glad that you loved them! 🙂

  • Reply
    hally
    December 21, 2014 at 12:39 pm

    Can I use any type of apples?

    • Reply
      Jovita
      December 21, 2014 at 1:51 pm

      Hi Hally, it’s the best to use crisp apples (like Granny Smith).

  • Reply
    Luke
    December 27, 2014 at 10:01 pm

    These were lovely! They’re so cute and tiny, and they only took me 4 hours to make! They look almost exactly like the picture, if I do say so myself http://cl.ly/Z71V5 stars

    • Reply
      Jovita
      December 28, 2014 at 9:30 am

      Luke, thank you so much for reporting back, I appreciate it! Yes, your cookies look exactly like mine and I’m so happy you loved them! 🙂

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