WITH THANKSGIVING close at hand, dinner preparations are being divvied up across the nation. The host usually takes on the turkey due to its lengthy cooking time. Other items are more easily transported by guests -- salad, dinner rolls, mashed potatoes and pies.
For the last several years, I've been the official apple pie baker at our family gatherings. This is not because I am a master pie maker, but more because I happened to find a really great recipe a few years back -- caramel apple pie with toffee streusel.
My dad's birthday is in early November. The man doesn't have much of a sweet tooth, but he does love a good apple pie. This year I decided to make a pre-Thanksgiving pie test run. I switched things up and left off the toffee streusel, opting for a simpler caramel-only version.
Verdict? Still good, but we all missed the streusel -- particularly my brother-in-law. And it is for his benefit that I continue to make the pie every year.
My brother-in-law loves this recipe so much that last year I doubled my effort and made two pies -- one for Thanksgiving dinner and one for him to eat the next day. He's one of those lucky individuals with a hummingbird style metabolism who is as likely to show up to Thanksgiving dinner on his bike pulling my nieces in a trailer as anything else. He can handle an extra pie.
Taken from a comment on my blog Julie Jams, he states, "It is no exaggeration for me to say that this was the best apple pie I have ever had in my whole life. No joke, I could eat that stuff 24/7."
So, if you're in the market for an alternative to a tired apples-plus-spices pie -- or, heaven forbid, something from supermarket freezer section -- give this recipe a whirl. But, beware, it disappears quickly. Skip an extra helping of mashed potatoes and make a bee line to the dessert table.
CARAMEL APPLE PIE WITH TOFFEE STREUSEL
For the crust:
- 3 c all purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 c plus 1 TB unsalted butter (cut into pieces and chilled)
- 1/3 c ice water
- 1 TB white vinegar
- 1 egg, beaten
Combine the flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or fork until the mixture resembles cornmeal.
In another bowl, mix the water and vinegar with the beaten egg. Add the liquid mixture to the dry flour mixture one tablespoon at a time, tossing with a fork to form a soft dough.
Divide the dough in half, rolling into two balls. Flatten the balls into discs with your palm, cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.
When it is time to make the pie, roll the dough to an 1/8 inch thickness between two pieces of parchment or plastic wrap. Roll from the center out and give the dough a quarter turn between rolls. Place the bottom crust in a nine inch pie plate, cover the top crust until the filling and streusel are added.
For the filling:
- 6 c peeled and sliced apples (Jonathan, Granny Smith, combo)
- 1/2 c packed brown sugar
- 1/2 c white sugar
- 1/4 c all purpose flour
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 TB lemon juice
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 4 TB heavy cream
- 4 TB unsalted butter
In a large bowl, sprinkle the sliced apples with the lemon juice. Add the sugars, flour, spices and salt to the apples and toss to combine. Add the vanilla and heavy cream.
In a large heavy skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the apple mixture and cook for eight minutes, stirring frequently. This creates the caramel sauce.
Turn the apple filling into the pie shell and make the streusel.
For the streusel topping:
- 1/2 c all purpose flour
- 3 TB sugar
- 1 TB butter
- 2 chocolate coated toffee bars, crushed (use a large zip top bag and a rolling pin)
Combine the flour and sugar in a bowl. Mix the butter in with a fork. Add the toffee and mix. Sprinkle the mixture over the apple filling in the crust.
Add the top crust. Seal and flute the edges. Brush on a beaten egg white and sprinkle with sugar. The pie should be baked low in the oven, close to the heating element. After the first 15 minutes, slip a rimmed baking sheet under the pie to catch caramel drips.
Bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees; bake for an additional 45 minutes. Remove the pie from the oven and let it cool on a wire rack.
If you're not quite up to preparing a full meal this year, take note: Two fine local restaurants will be serving Thanksgiving meals, and . Reservations are limited; please call ahead to secure a spot.