The Perfect Caramel Apple Pie for the Holiday Season
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- 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 4 tablespoons vegetable shortening
- 6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into chunks
- 5 to 6 tablespoons ice cold water
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 tablespoons corn syrup
- 1 cup heavy cream, room temperature
- 4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- For the filling: 7 cups (2 1/2 to 3 lbs., approx.) apples, pared and sliced (I prefer a few Honeycrisp and Granny Smith)
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Juice of one lemon
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons Calvados
- 4 tablespoons cornstarch
- 3/4 cup caramel sauce
For the pie crust, in a food processor, place flour, salt and sugar. Pulse to combine. Add shortening and butter and pulse until small pea-size pieces remain. With the processor running, add water through the feed tube until the dough just comes together. Put in plastic wrap and shape into a disc. Place in refrigerator to chill. Roll out for a pie crust, top crust, or lattice.
To make the caramel sauce, place the sugar in kettle over medium-high heat. As sugar begins to melt around the edges, stir to ensure even melting. Continue to stir until all sugar is melted and even in color. (Note: I like to go to a dark amber color, which almost makes the caramel a little bit bitter. If a sweet caramel is desired, cook the caramel to a lighter color.) Remove from heat and slowly add in cream, stirring constantly. It will bubble vigorously. Once all the cream is added, continue to stir until smooth. Add corn syrup and butter. The cold butter stops the sugar from cooking. Stir until smooth and then add in vanilla. Let cool.
Place apples in large kettle or dutch oven and add sugar, salt, lemon juice and butter. Cook over medium to medium-high heat until the apples just begin to become tender. Pre-cooking helps the apples to not shrink as the pie bakes.
Remove from heat and add calvados and caramel sauce. Stir to combine and let cool to room temperature. It’s important to cool so when placed in prepared pie shell, the shell won’t soften and cornstarch won’t clump.
Once cool, stir in cornstarch and pour into prepared pie shell (there may be too much liquid). Before placing on a double crust or lattice top, brush edge with water to seal. Roll and crimp edges and sprinkle the top with sugar.
Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and place in preheated 375-degree oven. Bake for 45-75 minutes until the pie is bubbling throughout and the crust is nicely browned. The crust may need to be covered around the edges to prevent too much browning.
Remove from oven and cool completely before cutting or serving to ensure the filling sets.