Crisp, sweet apples dipped in gooey, golden melted caramel. As a kid, my Mom made caramel apples especially around this time of year. It was a treat most of our Moms made. Caramel and apples are a natural combination, blending delightful autumn flavors with creamy and crisp textures. But what if we deconstruct the caramel apple into an apple pie that is layered with a creamy caramel sauce and toasted pecans? Well, we have something quite wonderful!
This pie deserves a delicate, flaky pastry crust to cradle those apples. Start with a buttery pastry dough then sprinkle it with toasted pecans. Next, slice up some beautiful McIntosh apples, perfect for baking with their slightly sweet but tart undertone.
Toss them with cinnamon, freshly grated nutmeg and dark brown sugar bringing out the best of this favorite fruit.
Now comes the fun. Melt creamy caramels with a touch of half and half, creating a luscious sauce that you drizzle in the center of those apples.
It’s certainly a lot easier to eat than a caramel apple! Fall will never be the same!
Caramel Apple Pie with Toasted Pecans
5 McIntosh apples, peeled, cored and sliced thin – about 6 cups
¼ cup dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
3 tablespoons flour
40 caramel pieces, 11-ounce package
¼ cup plus one tablespoon half and half, divided
½ cup toasted chopped pecans
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 prepared pastry crust, uncooked (*Our favorite pastry dough recipe is below.)
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
In a large mixing bowl, combine the sliced apples with the brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and the flour. Stir well to thoroughly coat the apples.
In a small saucepan, melt the caramel pieces with ¼ cup of the half and half over low heat. Stir occasionally and cook until the caramels are completely melted into the half and half and the sauce is smooth. Set aside while you prepare the pie.
Gently settle the pastry dough into a deep-dish pie plate or 10” cast iron skillet, that has been sprayed with a cooking spray. Leave the edges of the pastry dough; you’ll fold them over before baking.
Sprinkle the toasted pecans in the bottom of the crust, keeping a small handful for topping the pie.
Spoon half of the apples into the pastry crust. Pour the caramel sauce over the apples.
Top with the remaining apples.
Fold the edges over the apples.Whisk the egg together with 1 tablespoon half and half to create an egg wash. Using a pastry brush, brush the egg wash over the exposed crust. Sprinkle with the granulated sugar.
Place the pie on the lower third rack of the oven (not the bottom rack) and bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes. Remove the pie and brush the exposed apples with maple syrup and top with the remaining handful of toasted pecans. Return to the oven and bake for an additional 5 minutes or until the apples are tender when pierced with a sharp knife. If the crust begins to brown too much before the apples are tender, place a piece of foil loosely over the top and continue baking.
Let the pie cool slightly before cutting into it. (If you can wait!) The juices will set up a bit as it cools.
Serve warm or at room temperature… A bit of ice cream certainly doesn’t hurt!
*For the pastry:
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling out the dough
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
¾ cup unsalted butter, 1-1/2 sticks
1/3 cup cold water
1 tablespoon milk
Cut the butter into cubes and chill in the freezer for about 30 minutes.
Combine the flour, kosher salt and sugar in a food processor, mix for about 5-10 seconds. Scatter the cold butter cubes on top of the flour and pulse about 10 times, just until the butter is the size of peas.
Add the cold water and process about 5-10 seconds, or just until the water is blended into the flour and butter. You’re not looking for the dough to gather into a ball. Don’t over process or your pastry will be tough.
Turn out the mixture on a lightly floured surface and lightly dust your hands with flour.
Gently pull the dough together and press into a disc. Roll out the dough into a round about 15”-16”, turning occasionally so the dough doesn’t stick to the surface. Gently roll the dough around the rolling pin and unroll onto a parchment lined baking sheet, which has been lightly sprayed with a cooking spray.