mini-pies

A variety of mini-pies can give Thanksgiving guests a sweet choice. (Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times / November 17, 2012)

Short of any family drama, the biggest dilemma most of us face at the holiday table revolves around dessert. Specifically: Which pie do I choose? (Or, rather: Why do I only get to try one?)

Why stop at one? Friends and family, there is a solution: The mini-pie.

At first glance, it looks exactly like a traditional pie … but miniaturized. Same rich and buttery crust with that tell-tale flake, same flavorful filling. All scaled down, "Mini-Me"-style. It may even have the same artfully crimped edges, only they're tiny. Delicate even.

Call them what you will — tiny pies, muffin tin pies, cup-pies (à la the show "Pushing Daisies") — they're essentially pies baked in muffin tins. And you can bake batches at a time.

You don't need anything fancy to make the cute little guys — a couple of standard nonstick muffin tins will do, maybe one or two tiny cookie cutters if you want to get fancy. As for ingredients, a single standard pie's worth of filling and two to three single pie crusts are enough to give you a dozen or so mini-pies.

They make a perfect project. Though mini-pies are a bit more involved than throwing together a standard pie — you are, of course, forming and filling a bunch of smaller pies rather than one of, well, normal stature — they are fun to make. Vary the crimping for the crusts, add little lattice tops if you'd like. Use tiny cutouts baked from spare bits of pie crust to garnish the pies. Let your creative juices flow, albeit on a size-restricted scale.

Probably the only thing more entertaining than actually making the pies is watching your guests gleefully devour them. The little pies are great when you're planning for company or potlucks. Did I mention holiday dinners? And they make perfect homemade gifts, each treat individually wrapped for family and friends.

Of course, you could just keep a batch all to yourself. No dilemma there.

noelle.carter@latimes.com