A fabulous combination of apples, caramel, crumbly topping and thin, flaky crust, this pie is best made a day ahead, which makes it ideal for a holiday meal.
The easiest way to cut the caramels is with strong kitchen scissors, or you can use a knife. Be sure to toss the caramel pieces with the cornstarch immediately after cutting or they'll stick together.
Vanilla ice cream makes a great accompaniment to the pie, which should be served at room temperature. It can be stored, uncovered, at room temperature for up to 2 days after baking.
Servings: 8 - 12
- For the crust
- 1 cup flour
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons vegetable shortening
- 3 tablespoons salted butter
- 4 tablespoons chilled orange or apple juice
- For the topping
- 3/4 cup unbleached flour
- 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 6 tablespoons chilled salted butter
- For the filling
- 10-ounce vanilla caramels, unwrapped and cut into 3 or 4 pieces each
- 1/4 cup corn starch
- 5 medium Granny Smith apples (about 2 to 2 1/4 pounds), peeled, cored and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
- 1 tablespoon chilled salted butter, cut into small pieces
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
For the crust: Combine the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times to mix. Add the shortening and butter, then the juice, pouring it evenly over the contents of the bowl. Process just until a ball of dough forms, about 10 seconds.
(Alternatively, if you do not have a food processor, use shortening and butter that are well chilled but not frozen, and cut into -inch cubes. Combine the flour and salt in a medium bowl. Add the cubes of shortening and butter, then use a pastry blender or 2 knives to combine until the consistency of the mixture resembles petite peas. Pour the juice evenly over the mixture and combine with a fork until the dough comes together.)
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Flatten the dough into a disk about an inch thick; wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour and up to 2 days.
For the topping: Combine the flour, brown sugar and salt in a medium bowl. Use a pastry blender or 2 knives to cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Refrigerate until ready to use.
For the filling: Toss the caramel pieces with the cornstarch in a large bowl until they are well coated, then add the apples, butter and lemon juice; stir to combine.
When ready to assemble the pie, position an oven rack in the lower third of the oven; preheat to 350 degrees. Place a 9-inch pie plate on a rimmed baking sheet.
Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface and roll it into a 12-inch round of uniform thickness. Carefully transfer to the pie plate, allowing the edges to hang over the rim. Trim the edges and crimp the rim decoratively. Press the dough trimmings together into a ball and roll out to about the same thickness as the pie shell. Use a cookie cutter to cut out five to eight leaves or other decorative shapes. Transfer the cut shapes to a plate and refrigerate until ready to use.
Spoon the filling into the unbaked pie crust, mounding it in the center; it will sink during and after baking. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the filling and gently press it into place.
Transfer the pie on the baking sheet to the oven; bake for 1 hour. Working quickly, remove the pie from the oven and arrange the chilled leaf cutouts on top of the crumble. Return the pie to the oven and bake for about 15 minutes or until the filling is bubbling and the pastry cutouts have lightly browned.
Transfer the pie to a wire rack and cool to room temperature.
NOTE: You can use a readily available brand of caramel, such as Werther's or Kraft; a high-end fleur de sel caramel; or any other plain vanilla caramel. Ellen Connorton says she has had good results with all of them.
From Ellen Connorton.
Tested by Candy Sagon.
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