Comfort food comes in many forms, but if we were doing an informal survey, I'd estimate that at least half of our favorite comforting dishes involve dough or carbs of some sort. That explains a lot when it comes to the pierogi (and the dumpling's) worldwide popularity: how can you resist anything wrapped in soft, chewy dough?
In my book, Pierogi Love: New Takes on an Old-World Comfort Food, I serve up a buffet of unconventional fillings for these classic Polish dumplings, ranging from savory reuben or crab cake pierogies to Nutella and s'mores versions. And with our collective appetite for sweet treats, it seems more than appropriate to turn a traditional all-American dessert of apple pie into a bite-size pierogi that all ages will enjoy.
If you've never made pierogies from scratch before, you'll be very pleasantly surprised by how easy it is to make the dough—no yeast, basically no kneading, and no stand mixer necessary. Just pinch the little pierogies together! Serve these sweetly spiced apple pie-rogies as a family friendly dessert or special snack. They're indulgent when drizzled with caramel sauce or topped with whipped cream, but taste just as good when simply tossed in melted butter.
Make the filling:
Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir in the chopped apples, cover, and cook for about 5 minutes until the apples begin to soften. Uncover and stir in the sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, and allspice. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes until the apples are very soft and liquid is mostly absorbed, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight.
Make the dough:
Whisk the egg, sour cream or yogurt, butter, sugar, and salt in a bowl.
Pour the flour into a separate large bowl.
Gently stir the wet ingredients into the flour. The dough will initially be very dry and shaggy, seeming as if it will never come together, but have no fear: Keep stirring, and it will pull itself into shape.
Once the dough starts to come together, press and smash it against the sides of the bowl with your palms, picking up dough bits and essentially kneading it within the bowl until it forms a ball.
Tip the dough and any remaining shaggy flakes out onto a clean work surface. Knead until smooth, about 1 minute. Cover the dough with the bowl and let rest 15 minutes.
Reserve the egg wash for assembling the pierogies.
Assemble the pierogies:
Line a rimmed baking sheet with waxed paper or parchment paper.
Divide the rested dough into 4 equal pieces with a bench scraper or knife. Set aside 3 dough pieces and cover with the mixing bowl. Roll the remaining dough as thinly as possible into a rough 8- x 12-inch rectangle.
Using a 3-inch round cookie cutter, cut out 6 rounds of dough. If the dough isn’t quartered evenly, you may get 5 rounds from one piece and 7 from another. Resist the temptation to re-roll dough scraps for additional rounds. It seems wasteful, but the dough won’t be as tender the second time around.
Spoon 1 teaspoon filling into the center of dough rounds.
Using your finger, swipe a very scant amount of egg wash—just a light touch—around the edge of the dough round.
Fold into a half-moon shape: Either fold the dough over the filling on the work surface—I call this “the blanket”—or gently cup the pierogi in your hand in a U shape—I call this “the taco.” Gently but firmly seal the pierogi by pinching and squeezing the edges together with your thumb and pointer finger. Start with one pinch at the top, then move to one “corner” of the pierogi and pinch along the edge back to the top. Repeat on the opposite side to finish sealing the pierogi.
Transfer to the baking sheet and repeat with remaining dough rounds and filling. Freeze on the baking sheet, refrigerate up to 3 hours, or cook immediately.
Cook the pierogies:
Boil a pot of water over medium-high heat (fill approximately 1 quart water for every 6 pierogies). Add pierogies and cook until floating, 2 to 3 minutes for fresh and 4 to 5 minutes for frozen.
Toss the pierogies in melted butter and serve, or pan-fry: Heat 1 tablespoon neutral oil (like canola or vegetable) or melt 1 tablespoon unsalted butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add as many pierogies as will fit in a single layer without crowding. Cook until pierogies are brown and crispy, about 2 minutes per side. Repeat with additional oil or butter and pierogies.
MAKE IT AHEAD!
Once assembled, the pierogies can be frozen and stored for up to 3 months. Freeze the pierogies directly on the waxed paper-lined baking sheet until solid, about an hour, then transfer to a zip-top bag. Boil frozen pierogies as noted above.