Thursday, November 17, 2011

Caramel Apple Pie

I'm about to make a grandiose statement and I am giving you fair warning so you will be prepared.

This pie is epic.

Award-winning, even.

(Seriously.  I won 2nd place in a pie baking contest.  Why not 1st place, you might wonder.  Well, let's just say that the first place prize went to a pie that contained Oreos.  I think that tastebuds are a bit misguided when they prefer chocolate over caramel, but that is just my humble opinion!)

This pie is a bit over the top, I will admit, but sometimes it is fun to do a little indulging.  It's even a bit time-consuming, but well worth it!  Let's consider the components, shall we?

Graham cracker crust.  Caramel.  Pecans.  Apples cooked in butter and brown sugar.  Cheesecake filling oozing between the slices of apple.  Fresh sweetened whipped cream.  More caramel.


Indulgent.  Award-winning.  Perfect.

Caramel Apple Pie
Adapted from Doughmesstic

Double Batch of Homemade Caramel Sauce

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (take it up a notch and use cinnamon graham crackers!)
3 tbl. sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/3 cup butter, melted

3/4 cup caramel sauce
1 cup chopped pecans

Apple Filling:
5 crisp apples (I used Gala), peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
5 tbl. unsalted butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon

Cheesecake Topping:
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 tsp. vanilla
1 egg
1 tbl. lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar

Whipped Cream:
3/4 cup heavy cream, whipped until stiff peaks form
2 tbl. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup homemade caramel sauce
1/4 cup chopped pecans, optional

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In the bowl of a food processor, process 1 package of graham crackers until finely ground.  In a microwave safe bowl, melt the butter.  In that same bowl, add graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and cinnamon to the melted butter and mix well.  Press into a 10-inch pie plate and up the sides.  Bake for 6-8 minutes until golden in color.  Remove from oven and cool completely.  Pour caramel sauce into pie shell and sprinkle with chopped pecans.  Refrigerate pie shell while making apple filling.

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter and add brown sugar, salt, and cinnamon.  Stir with a wooden spoon.  Add apples and cook until apples are soft and tender (but not mushy--you don't want applesauce!!) about 15 minutes, stirring often.  Cool for 10 minutes before pouring into pie shell.

Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.

In the mixing bowl of a stand mixer (or any other mixing bowl), combine softened cream cheese and sugar until smooth.  Add egg, lemon juice, and vanilla extract and beat until thoroughly combined.  Pour over apple filling.

Bake for 30 minutes until a cake tester (or toothpick) comes out clean.  Remove from oven and let cool.  Refrigerate for about 4 hours or overnight.

In mixing bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the heavy cream, sugar and vanilla together until stiff peaks form.  Using a spatula or a spreader, spread the whipped cream over the top of the chilled pie.  Generously drizzle top of whipped cream with caramel sauce and top the edges of the pie with additional chopped pecans if desired.  Refrigerate again until ready to serve.

Before serving, let pie stand for about 30 minutes, coming close to room temperature.  Slice and serve.

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