Last weekend, it was finally gorgeous out after a month of rainy and chilly weather. Instead of lounging in the park, I spent most of it holed up indoors, editing the unbound galley pages of my cookbook, giving it the final check before it got sent to the printer. I barely left the house, sipped many cups of coffee, and snacked on an embarrassing assortment of sweet and salty junk food. (The telltales signs of an intense period of work.)
Yesterday morning at 11am, I packaged it up and sent it back to my publisher. I sank down on my couch and let the sense of relief sink in.
The sitting lasted for about 10 minutes. Then it was time to make some pie to celebrate. (And good timing at that, since I had also joined a Pie Party organized by some food blogger friends.) Maybe not just one pie, but many mini pies.
I had strawberries on hand. Perhpas they would go well with that bottle of dark rum peeking out so prominently (and so enticingly) from my shelves.
The filling for these pies is quite easy. I tossed the strawberries with sugar and let it sit for about 20 minutes so the strawberries get softened and juicy. Then I took half of the strawberries and heated them up in a pan with about 1/4 cup dark rum, adding in a bit of cornstarch at the end to thicken it.
I've been looking around for a good pie dough that you can make in a stand mixer, and found one from Williams-Sonoma. It might be my go-to pie dough from now on. On top of not needing a food processor to make, the dough also doesn't need to be chilled before rolling out, though on especially hot days (like yesterday) about 10 minutes of chilling wouldn't be a bad idea.
As for the top of the mini pies, I got a little overly ambitious and started doing some lattice work. Which wouldn't have been a bad idea if it weren't about 95 degrees in my kitchen, even with the AC blasting in the living room. The dough got soft pretty quickly and I didn't even care about following proper pie-latticing procedure anymore. Although I'd like to think this is perfectly excusable, given that the pies are little bigger than the strawberries themselves, it was very hot, and my fingers can only be so nimble. After I got tired of making lattice tops I covered the remaining pies with circles with slits in the center.
Now, the rum flavor isn't as pronounced in these pies as the strawberry-rum mixture right off the stove. So if you'd like boozier mini pies, I'd recommend just blind-baking the pastry shells, then adding scoops of the strawberry-rum mixture without needing to bake that too.
It's so easy to have 3 or 4 of these in one sitting, which is why they're gone less than 20 hours later.
Mini Strawberry Rum Pies
Makes 12 mini pies
- 1 pint fresh strawberries, hulled
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup dark Jamaican rum
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch, mixed with 3 tablespoons water
Dough (adapted from Williams-Sonoma)
- 1 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour or white whole wheat flour
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) very cold butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
- 3 tablespoons ice cold water
- Chop the strawberries into small pieces (about the size of a pea.) Toss with the sugar and let sit for about 20 minutes to macerate.
- In a small pot or saucepan, combine half the macerated strawberries with the dark rum over medium-low heat. Bring the mixture to a simmer, then stir in the cornstarch mixture. Stir until the strawberry mixture is thickened, about 1 to 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and transfer the strawberry mixture to another bowl to cool while you prepare the dough.
- This step is for making the pie dough in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, but for instructions for using a food processor or by hand, see the Williams-Sonoma site. Sift or stir together the flour, sugar, and salt in the mixer bowl. Add the cold butter cubes and toss with a fork or spoon to coat with the flour mixture. Mix on medium-low speed until the texture resembles that of cornmeal, being careful to not overwork the dough. (I set it on 4 on my KitchenAid.) Add the cold water and mix just until a dough forms.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease the mini muffin pan.
- Turn the dough out on a lightly flour surface. Roll the dough out until it is between 13- to 14- inches in diameter and about 1/8-inch thick. Use a round cookie cutter or the mouth of a glass that is slightly wider than the mini muffin pan cups and cut out twelves circles. Line the circles in the greased mini muffin pan.
- Fill each of the lined cups with about teaspoon of fresh strawberries and 1 teaspoon of the cooled strawberry-rum mixture.
- Re-flour your working surface. Gather the scraps from the pie dough into a ball and it out again. You can either cut out small strips to make a lattice design or cut out small circles to cover the pies, making a criss-cross slit on the top. Or be creative!
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the tops are lightly golden and the filling is bubbly. Carefully remove from the pan and cool on a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving. Serve alone or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side.