Mini Pie Bites are fun and versatile to make! Simply roll out a pie crust, cut with a cookie cutter, bake and top with pastry cream and fruit. These are topped with strawberries and bananas, but you can get creative!
I walk into a grocery store here, and I'm bombarded by new foods and products and packagings on the shelves. Take McVities, for example. Every American probably knows about the infamous digestive biscuits. But next to the digestives sits McVities Snickers Flapjacks. The rush of discovery surges - what's a flapjack? and oh my, a new Snickers variety to try?!
But sometimes it's a bit heart wrenching, when I scour a grocery store, and I absolutely cannot find what I'm looking for. Case in point is Nestle semi-sweet chocolate chips. Once a staple in my pantry, where I could buy nearly 5lbs at a time, these sweet goodies do not exist here, except at ridiculously high prices in American import shops.
Other times though, it's just a matter of terminology, and things simply go by different name, making them a bit hard to find. My latest discovery is that refrigerated "pie crust" (as called in the US) is called "shortcrust" here in the UK. I have yet to see shortcrust being sold here pressed into a pie tin already, but it does come in a ready rolled form and a pastry block form.
The bases of these Strawberry Banana Mini Pie Bites are made from Jus-Rol Shortcrust Pastry Block. I'd never used a pastry block before, and it was fun getting out the rolling pin. The crust itself was easy to handle, but it did take a bit longer than I anticipated, since the pastry block required defrosting before rolling, and required time to rest after rolling and before baking.
Besides my impatience, the pastry block worked perfectly for these Strawberry Banana Mini Pie Bites. The crust was sturdy enough to hold the weight of the pastry cream and fruit, and it kept its shape in the oven. The pastry itself wasn't sweet (I suppose so it could be used for savory pies), but the sprinkle of sugar on top of it helped give it a dessert edge.
Oh and if you are lucky enough to be in SoCal, please do eat a slice of Polly's Banberry Pie for me! And if you are in SF, please do eat a Tartine Banana Cream Pie for me. I'm missing those desserts very much, and they inspired these Strawberry Banana Mini Pie Bites.
Strawberry Banana Mini Pie Bites Recipe
*Note that the pastry cream will need to be cooled prior to constructing the mini pie bites. You may want to make the pastry cream the day before, and let it chill in the refrigerator overnight.
- 1 ready made shortcrust pastry block, rolled shortcrust pastry, or rolled pie crust
- 1 egg white, beaten
- white sugar for sprinkling
Pastry Cream (adapted from Tartine by Elizabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson)
- 2 c. whole milk
- 1 vanilla bean
- ¼ tsp. salt
- ½ c. sugar
- 4 tsp. cornstarch
- 2 large eggs
- 4 tbs. (55g) unsalted butter
- 2 bananas, sliced
- 200g strawberries (small pack), washed and sliced thinly
- powdered sugar for dusting
Note: follow directions on the ready made pastry regarding defrosting and resting times. Preheat oven according to package instructions, or to 350F/180C.
Roll the pastry out until it is about 3-4mm thick. Using a cookie cutter, cut pastry sheet into desired shapes. I used square cutters that varied in size from about 2 to 7cm. Gently place cut pastry onto a parchment paper lined baking tray, leaving about 1 cm between each piece. Using a fork, prick several holes on top. Gently brush the tops with beaten egg white. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake according to the package instructions, or at 350F/180C for about 10-12 minutes.
In a medium bowl, mix together the sugar and cornstarch. Add eggs and whisk until smooth. Set aside.
Add milk into a heavy saucepan. Split the vanilla bean in half and scrape out the seeds into the milk, using the tip of a sharp knife. Add salt. Place the saucepan over medium-high heat, and bring to just under a boil, stirring constantly. Make sure that milk does not stick to the bottom of the pan, otherwise any burnt milk solids will ruin the entire batch.
When the milk is done, slowly ladle about one-third of the hot milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Pour the egg-milk mixture back into the hot milk, and whisk continuously, over medium heat. The creme will slowly thicken after about 3 minutes. Bring the mixture to just boiling point, so there are a few slow bubbles rising. Be careful not to over boil, otherwise the pastry cream will curdle.
Remove from heat and let cool for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Cut the butter into about 1 tbs. (15ml) pieces. Add each piece one at a time into the pastry cream, whisking constantly. Whisk until the pastry cream is smooth.
To cool the cream, cover the bowl with a plastic wrap, pressing the plastic wrap directly onto the pastry cream (this prevents the pastry cream from developing a film on the surface), and store in refrigerator. To cool quickly, place it in a shallow dish filled with cold water. The pastry cream will last in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Layer a generous spoonful of pastry cream on each pastry "cookie".
Top with sliced fresh fruit.
Dust with powdered sugar.
Serve and enjoy!
Disclosure: Jus-Rol sent me a voucher which I used to buy the Shortcrust Pastry Block used in this post. The views I expressed in this post are my own.