Last but not least in the Cool Whip gift basket contest (sorry, the margarita pie didn’t make the cut) is Penny’s Crunchy Caramel Apple Pie. The name alone was enough to get my stomach growling. I had never actually made an apple pie before; the closest being a run of apple cake/tart tatins last fall and an apple crisp I had made just two weeks ago in New York. Clearly I was very excited to take on the classic American apple pie. And no, there were no plans to violate it afterwards in honor of Jason Biggs.
Anyway, this crunchy caramel apple pie seemed quite alluring. Not only was it an apple pie, but it had pecans, caramel sauce, and the stuff that goes atop an apple crisp. All the elements for an awesome culinary experience were there. It all came down to me executing it. Would I be able to tame the fickle apple beast? Pics after the jump…
First things first: I had to make the pie topping. I forgot to take pictures of this process (sorry), but y’all didn’t miss much: I basically combined brown sugar, cold butter, flour, and rolled oats in a food processor and pulsed until the mixture looked to be the size of peas. I then stuck the whole thing in the fridge while I continued on with the rest of the recipe. Here’s the topping quietly nestled next to beer, kimchi, chocolate syrup, and random apple sauce. Oh, that reminds me: I have to throw out that apple sauce.
In a big red bowl goes sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt.
Next I peel, core, and slice about eight apples: half granny smith, half braeburn (at the suggestion of Penny). This step, I should add, is the WORST.
I toss the apple wedges with the flour mixture in the bowl until they’re all evenly coated. I then dump them into an allegedly deep dish crust from Ralph’s. And no, it doesn’t have to be pre-baked.
There are actually way too many apples leftover. Luckily, my pie crust package came with two pie crusts; so I decided I’d just make a whole second pie too.
I retrieved the crumble topping from the fridge and liberally sprinkled it on each pie, effectively making a giant mess in the process.
Both pies are ready for the oven.
I have way too much crumble left over. I put it back in the fridge where it’s been for the past few days. I’ll probably just use it to make an apple crisp next week.
With the pies ready for baking, I must first sheathe the crusts with aluminum foil, lest they burn magnificently in the heat. Of course, now they look like they’re wearing “Pies From The Future!” Halloween costumes.
After twenty-five minutes, I remove the foil. Twenty-five minutes after that I then take the pies from the oven and let them cool off, which is what’s happening here.
Honestly, the pies look pretty amazing as is, but the recipe calls for more indulgence…
As a final touch, I pour caramel sauce atop the pie and then sprinkle with pecans. Heaven.
Even though the pie was still pretty damn hot, I couldn’t wait to snag a bite. I cut a slice after ten minutes of cooling, and oh my goodness it was insanely good. It was like apple pie but — as Ina Garten likes to say — with the VOLUME TURNED UP. The topping afforded us the best of a crisp while the crust reminded us that this was still pie. Meanwhile, the caramel and pecans only served to augment the entire experience. Of all the pies, this was the only one I could barely tear myself away from right out of the oven. The key, however, is to get a bite with all the components, and that’s not necessarily an easy task. Plus, as the pie cools down, it loses flavor. Not significantly, but enough that I’ve felt the need to nuke each remaining slice in the microwave before eating.
As apple pies go, this one was definitely a winner. However, was it enough to stave off the sophisticated decadence of the Chocolate Amaretto Crunch Pie or the simple perfection of the Turtle? Results from the eight-person tasting panel later today…