It’s funny that there are certain shortcuts I’ll sometimes take with my baking like using frozen pie crusts, doctoring up cake mixes for cupcakes, and flavoring up canned frosting. Yet when a recipe tells me to use caramel ice cream topping, my first response is “screw that – I’m making my own caramel!” There are so many ways this can go wrong. I’ve burned the sugar on multiple occasions (though I suppose I could pretend I’d done that on purpose & have burnt caramel sauce), I’ve stirred my sugar too much (or not enough) had clumps in the final sauce, I’ve used crappy butter in the final stages. But when I get it right, the finished sauce is so much better than anything you can get out of a jar or by melting caramels that it’s worth the extra work.
So when I had a hankering for apple pie to serve at Thanksgiving dinner, I went for a caramel apple pie. I have a recipe in my arsenal that has done well in the past, but I wanted to do a crumb topping & that recipe calls for double pie crust.
I started with the salted caramel sauce. And then, just like every time I look up the recipe, I wanted to drop everything and run off to Paris for a while. I use this recipe from Smitten Kitchen and it is the one recipe I go back to for caramel again and again. It does make a difference if you splurge on the butter – this is not a time to buy cheap butter.
Once my sauce was made, I started working on the pie. I started with this recipe, but modified just a bit it to suit my own tastes.
Salted Caramel Apple Pie (or Crisp)
For the Pie:
single pie crust, prepared as instructed on package or recipe (I used a frozen deep dish crust)
1/2 cup sugar
3 tbsp flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
6 cups sliced peeled apples (I used a mixture of Granny Smith & sweeter apples I needed to use up)
1/4-1/2 cup salted caramel sauce
For the topping:
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup quick-cook oats
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 375.
In large bowl, mix together sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt. Add apple slices & stir to coat. Add mixture to prepared pie crust. Drizzle salted caramel sauce over apples.
Prepare the topping: Mix together all ingredients except butter, then add butter (use pastry blender or your clean hands). Mix until it resembles coarse crumbs.
Place topping over pie, covering the top evenly.
Bake for 50-55 minutes or until top is golden.
I overdid it on the apple slices, so I placed the overflow into a couple ramekins & baked it for about 20 minutes.
This was delicious, although as you can see from the first picture it didn’t stay very pie-like. My apples were a little too juicy and the pie crust just crumbled under them. I would make this again, but I think next time just as an apple crisp without the pie crust (and maybe a smidge less sugar since I have the salted caramel sauce). For me it’s all about the apples & the crunchy crumb topping anyway.