Among the things those ancestors who haunt my kitchen keep telling me–“Don’t throw away perfectly good food!” Following the waste-not-want-not philosophy of all those lovely ladies in my family, who never allowed a leftover to go to waste, we don’t toss the scraps of pie dough after rolling out the pie, instead we get creative with pie cookies.
Look at all those scalloped edges that are going to be trimmed. Where will that excess dough go?
Of course when you are making several pie crusts at once, you can shove the bits and pieces to the side and hope you have enough to make another crust, but re-rolling the crust too many times is going to degrade the flakiness quotient.
Mother had a couple of small pie tins that she used to make mini-pies for the mini-people at our holiday feasts–you know, the ones who sat at the kitchen table, before they graduated to the grown up table with linens and silverware. (I put a measuring cup beside the mini pie pans to give you perspective.) And if you have mini tins, you might make a mini pie.
But following in the footsteps of the frugal forebears, I gather up all the little pieces, roll them gently out one more time, and make pie cookies. Lots of people do this, but everybody seems to have a different name. What do you call the little treats you make with leftover dough?
This is definitely time to get creative. You can use regular cookie cutters, or just use whatever is on hand. Make them thin, because they’e going to puff up, and they’ll be tenderer if they’re thin.
No need to grease the cookie sheet. There’s plenty of shortening in the dough. You might want to use parchment, however, if you are using sticky fillings that might ooze out.
In this picture you can see some of the additions I used this time. The small dish with a brush has some milk to brush on the tops so the pastry won’t look–well–pasty.
I keep a sprinkler jar of cinnamon sugar around for when I have an urge for cinnamon toast, and this is my favorite topping for pie cookies. (I add some powdered cocoa to my cinnamon and sugar.)
I always have leftover colored sugar and sprinkles left from cookie decorating marathons with my grandchildren. This time I used some blue sugar, for a strange little cookie that reminds me of a lava lamp.
I usually use some fruit jam for a tiny tart. But dear, dear, I was out of jam–so I tried Nutella®. This is one of those foods that it is okay to eat even though your grandmother never heard of it. Chocolate hazlenut spread. Beyond delicious.
As you see, I tried lots of different shapes. I neglected to make a small square, which is folded over into a triangle with jam in the middle. But despite all the possibilities of carefully sculpted shapes, my favorite thing is to just chop off an irregular piece that is left from the edge of the pie and leave the shape as is. Then you can play “what does this look like?” as you nibble.
Bake the pie cookies in a 375 degree oven for 15-20 minutes, depending on how well your oven heats and what kind of pan you are using. Watch carefully after ten minutes because they can go from perfectly browned to burnt in seconds. This is one time when that light bulb inside the oven can really come in handy, so you don’t have to keep opening the door.
Here are a few of the cookies. (We ate the rest as soon as they came out of the oven smelling all floury and buttery and sugary). The Nutella is a real winner, by the way.
Pie cookies will always be delicious if you have a delicious pie crust recipe to start with, and of course now that you know about the Perfect Pie Crust, you definitely will make champion pie cookies. In the spirit of fairness, I have to mention the pie challenge throw down that came from Kris Bordessa in Hawaii, with her similar but not identical heritage recipe for pie crust at Attainable Sustainable. Feel free to compare our pie crusts for your pie cookies.
And do share your own creative uses for leftover pie dough. But never, never throw it away!