For the crust: Add the flour, cornmeal, powdered sugar, and salt to the food processor. Pulse a couple times. Then cut the shortening into cubes and pulse it into the dry mixture. Add 3 tablespoons of ice cold water and pulse until the dough comes together. Add a little more water if needed.
Dump the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap and divide it into a large and small piece, about an 80/20 split. Shape the dough into two disks, then wrap both pieces and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Peel and dice the apples.
For the filling: In a small sauce pan, add the butter and remaining six ingredients over medium heat. Stir and bring to a simmer. Then pour the syrup over the apples and toss.
Take the larger disk of dough out of the fridge. Roll it out on a well-floured work surface to approximately 1/8 inch thick. Using a drinking glass with a 3 ½ -4 inch wide rim, cut out dough circles. Press the dough circles into muffin tins. If you gather the extra pieces and re-roll, you should be able to get 14-16 circles.
Fill each crust with an equal portion of apple mixture. Roll out the smaller piece of dough. Using a 2-3 inch decorative cookie cutter, cut out tops for each pie. Place each top on the pies and brush them with the remaining syrup from the apple bowl.
Bake the mini pies for 15 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 350 degrees F, and bake another 15 minutes. If the tops are already golden after the first 15 minutes, lay a sheet of foil over them. Allow the pies to cool completely before trying to remove them from the muffin tins.
NOTES:Silicone muffin pans make it extremely easy to extract the pies. If using metal muffin tins, run a small sharp knife around ONE rim at a time, and gently dump one pie out into your hand, before moving on to the next.If you would like to make this as a whole 9 inch pie, make the crust as directed and split the dough into equal pieces. Then DOUBLE the amount of apples and syrup mixture. Bake the pie for 30 minutes at 425, then 30 minutes at 350.