November 26, 2013

Salted caramel apple pie (not a moment too soon)

This is important.

I know we are all busy right now, but there is something that needs to be communicated immediately, and I know of no better channel: Salted Caramel Apple Pie, people. Salted Caramel Apple Pie!

Are you making an apple pie for Thanksgiving? Good. Me too. Now, slowly back away from that age-old, standard recipe that lies tattered on your countertop, ready to go. (It’s hard, I know. It’s going to be okay, I promise. Your grandmother will eventually forgive you.) Replace it instead with that one, down there. The one in that not-at-all romantic, not-even-a-little-bit-nostalgic hyperlink. (Gah! It’s like I don’t even know myself anymore.)

I was reluctant at first, too. It’s hard to let go of a favorite recipe. And this new recipe, well, it seems too fancy in a way. It seems like it will most certainly be a letdown—especially for those of us who like our apple pies and our fruit desserts simple, the way they used to be. Well, this recipe might change things for you. And it’s worth a try—just once—to do something a little different. It is a holiday, after all.

Apart from the flaky, tender crust (perfumed with the slightest whiff of apple cider vinegar), and the tart apples that have been baking in autumn spices, oozing down to a sublime version of their former selves, the thing that really clinches this, as you may have gathered from the title, is the salted caramel. Caramel that you make on the stovetop as a separate step; that you sprinkle with Maldon sea salt; that becomes amber and beautiful and that makes your whole house smell like sugar and cream. You take this caramel and you drizzle about half of it over the apples in the pie. Then you make your lattice. The other half of the caramel? Well, that you warm up later and drizzle over each slice as you serve it. Extra props if you’ve had the wherewithal to also make some whipped cream—it will glide over your warm pie into a lovely, creamy, caramel-specked puddle.

The real benefit here is that this pie actually improves with age. It was leaps and bounds better after it’d had 12 hours in the fridge to mellow. Heat it up a bit before serving, and let the caramel do the talking. Your guests will do that incredibly gratifying thing of being totally quiet—hushed by the delicious food that is before them. Focused eating. Quiet, happy, focused eating.

That’s my plan for Thursday.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends.

Salted Caramel Apple Pie
The recipe comes from the newly released Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book

Find it, in very unromantic form, here. (I’m waiting for my actual copy in the mail.)

Really helpful tips on how to make a lattice (effortlessly) via the Kitchn.

Some notes to guide you through: This pie is very lemony, especially the first day. If you prefer something a little less tart, I would cut the amount of lemon juice in half. Next, I prepared the apples before I rolled out the dough (not what the recipe suggests, but it worked great). For the caramel: The recipe linked above provides no reference on how long it will take to achieve caramel; mine took about 20 minutes. The trick is to watch it closely and to wait for it to become a deep amber color. Be careful as you stir the caramel mixture—it will be scalding hot. To achieve total pie perfection, give the pie at least 12 hours to mellow in the fridge (24 or more is ok, too). Lastly, although this is not detailed in the recipe, I strongly recommend using the extra caramel to drizzle over each slice of pie that is served. This simple action completes it.