Why Mini Pies are Stealing the Spotlight

Pies are a tradition at holiday gatherings, a “welcome to the neighborhood” gift and a beloved classic comfort food that never seem to go out of favor. With hundreds of filling possibilities from fruit to chocolate, there is truly a pie for every palate. Pies have certainly been a dessert mainstay, but today they are enjoying a renaissance in a new, more portable form.

Bumping cupcakes out as the “it” hand-held dessert, mini pies are turning a restaurant trend into a household delight. The National Restaurant Association ranked “bite-size/mini desserts” as the second most popular dessert trend in 2011 following artisan/house-made ice cream.

Bakers, chefs and home cooks alike are not only embracing the cutie pie trend but making it their own with everything from traditional flavors such as apple, pumpkin and banana cream to more trendy flavors like salted caramel, peanut butter and chili chocolate pies. Not just limited to sweet, savory minis like chicken and meat pies are just as hard to resist.

Just in time for the holiday entertaining, the California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB) has created a recipe for Orchard Hand Pies to help you bring the trend home. Featuring seasonal fruits and Real California Blue and Cheddar cheeses, the classic apple pie has been elevated to a new sweet and savory level. Need more convincing?

  • Mini desserts and foods are a refreshing reminder to slow down, savor and enjoy each of your bites. Mini pies make the perfect party food because you don’t need a knife and fork to enjoy.
  • In any pie recipe, the dough can make or break it. You need just the right crust to hold your favorite filling.  The CMAB’s All-Butter Pie Dough is the perfect base for your pies from sweet or savory to big or small.
  • Mini pies are easier to make than they sound – they use ingredients and pans most likely already in your cupboards. They bake in half the time (30-45 minutes) of a normal-sized pie and make the same amount of servings if you use an eight- cup muffin tin, which also creates the perfect size and shape while baking.
  • Orchard Hand Pies are filled with pears, apples and delicious Real California Cheeses that pair well with beer, wine and even chocolates. In fact, the Blue and Cheddar cheeses in the pies can be complimented by pairing them with stouts, barley wines, and pale ales. Check out the free “Pair Savvy” smart phone, available for download on iPhone and Android devices, at http://PairSavvy.RealCaliforniaMilk.com for details.

Dairy products – including cheese – made with California milk can be identified by the Real California Milk and Real California Cheese seal, which certifies that the products are made exclusively with milk produced on California dairy farms.

Ninety-nine percent of California dairy farms are family-owned. California produces more fluid milk, butter, ice cream, yogurt and nonfat dry milk than any other state. The state is the second-largest producer of cheese, which is available nationally under the Real California Cheese seal.

The California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB), an instrumentality of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, is funded by the state’s 1,620 dairy families.

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