We had an apple pie contest at Organic Valley this week. Our contest was inspired by Organic Valley’s holiday ad campaign which features a Caramel Apple Pie. As you can imagine, working at a company that is all about delicious, organic food means the cooking contests around here have stiff competition!
I decided to do something a bit non-traditional and made an apple pie with a Southern Comfort caramel sauce. I’ll admit that I’m more of a cake baker than a pie maker, but this pie still came together easily for me. A little time consuming for sure, but not particularly difficult.
This pie combines all kinds of delicious things; the crust is flaky and buttery, just like a good crust should be, the apples retain their texture and have that amazing, spiced caramel sauce and the topping bakes into something that is like a mix between a streusel and a praline. I’d highly recommend serving the pie warm with a scoop of homemade vanilla bean ice cream or some whipped cream. Despite being served to the judges without whipped cream or ice cream, this pie was still awarded the best apple pie made with a homemade crust!
Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a stand mixer fit with the paddle attachment. Stir briefly to blend the ingredients. Add in the butter and mix on medium-low speed until the mixture resembles coarse sand and the largest pieces of butter are the size of peas. Mix in the cold water until the dough just comes together.
Shape the dough into a disk and cover in plastic wrap. Chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes while you prepare the rest of the pie.
Use a food processor or a pastry cutter to combine the sugars, cinnamon, salt and flour. Cut in the butter until crumbly. Stir in the chopped pecans and refrigerate until ready to use.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the butter has melted and started to foam, add the apples and sauté for 5-8 minutes until the apples are slightly softened and have released some of their juices. Add the sugar and apple pie spice and cook for another minute. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the apples to a baking sheet or cutting board, leave as much of the liquid in the pan as possible. Arrange the apples in a single layer so they won't get soggy.
Pour the Southern Comfort into the butter-sugar mixture in the skillet and simmer over medium heat until all the alcohol burns off, around 5-10 minutes (smell the mixture at a close range, if it burns your nostrils the alcohols is still cooking off). Add the cream and simmer until the mixture is very thick, but still pourable, about 5-10 minutes. Turn off the heat and set aside.
Roll out your pie crust on a floured surface and place it in a deep dish 9-inch pie pan. Add the apples back into the skillet with the sauce and stir to coat. Pour the apples and sauce into the pie pan (do not fill more than 1/2 inch below the top of the crust). Sprinkle evenly with the topping. Place a cookie sheet under the pie pan to catch any liquid that bubbles over and bake for 50-60 minutes until the filling is bubbling and the topping is brown. Cool before slicing.
*Ideally this pie should be made in a deep dish pie pan, if you don't have a deep dish pan it can be made in a regular pie pan, just make sure you don't fill it too full. I ended up having some leftover apples at the end, but,I certainly didn't let them go to waste, leftover caramel-y apples are delicious warmed up and served over ice cream!
A former member of CROPP’s Sustainability Department, Annie has relocated to Indiana but remains a CROPPie at heart. Annie has a M.S. in Environmental Studies from the University of Montana and continues to work in the field of environmental sustainability. When she and her yellow lab Boomer aren't outside exploring local hiking trails, Annie can usually be found in the kitchen. While she cooks for subsistence, Annie’s real passion lies in creating indulgent baked goods for friends and family.