Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Apple-Praline Pie

Every year about this time my husband starts talking about what kind of food pie we're having for Thanksgiving. The thing is, there really is no discussion. There will be a pumpkin pie because....well, just because. Who doesn't have pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving? And, this year we will have a cherry pie, because it is his favorite pie (and I'm just that kind of wife). My daughter's favorite is the Chocolate Angel Pie, so I may have to make one of those, too. I have many favorite pies, but I think that a fresh, homemade apple pie might just be my ultimate favorite. The thing is, there will only be five of us this year. Four pies would be pushing the boundaries just a bit, no? We don't want gluttony. Actually, while I can handle a bit of gluttony, what I don't want is waste. So, I made my apple pie a week early and I shared it with my co-workers. I may be re-thinking that cherry pie.

My mother-in-law is famous for her apple pies. In fact, until now, I didn't dare try to make one...why compete with perfection? Unfortunately, her pie making days are over--she is officially retired from the kitchen. Rather than try to replicate one of her pies, I thought I'd make one of my own. So, I searched around and found the best of several different kinds of pie. This is what I came up with:

Apple Praline Pie
Printable Recipe

Pastry for a two-crust 9” pie*
¾ cup brown sugar
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon cardamom
1 tablespoon lemon juice
6-7 cups peeled and thinly sliced tart baking apples (I used a mixture of Granny Smith, McIntosh, and Honey Crisp)
3 tablespoons butter, cut up
¼ cup butter
½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
¾ cup chopped pecans
2 tablespoons heavy cream
½ teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 425 ° F.

Fit one piecrust into a 9-inch deep pie plate.

Stir together sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom. Sprinkle the lemon juice over the apples, and then stir the apples into the cinnamon/sugar mixture; spoon mixture into crust and dot with butter. Top with remaining piecrust; fold edges under, and crimp. Cut several slits in top.

Bake pie at 425 ° F for 20 minutes. Reduce temperature to 375 ° F and continue to bake for another 35-45 minutes, shielding with aluminum foil, if needed, to prevent excessive browning. Remove from oven.

Melt ¼ cup butter in a small saucepan; stir in brown sugar and pecans. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly; cook 1 minute, and remove from heat. Stir in cream and vanilla. Slowly, pour mixture over pie; bake for an additional 3- 5 minutes or until topping is bubbling.

*I was on a mission to find the perfect pie crust this year. I had heard from a reliable source that replacing the liquid with vodka was the way to go (thank you Danny Klecko). I googled and found a recipe from Cook's Illustrated that worked perfectly.

I actually found cake flavored vodka...I did use it, but next time I'll just use regular vodka. I couldn't really taste the cake flavor in the finished crust, but sometimes less is more when it comes to flavors.

A friend had given me one of those extra-deep ceramic pie plates. I ended up using 10 large apples and increasing the brown sugar to 1 cup. This was one heavy pie.

 While nothing will compare to my mother-in-law's legendary pie, to me this recipe was a success. Did it pass her critical palate? The verdict is still out on that one. The piece I left for her was completely devoured...except for the pecans, which she carefully picked off. I'm beginning to understand why I have a 15 pound Chihuahua.

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  1. This looks awesome! That topping sounds great...I'm not crazy about double crust pies and would much prefer to have a delicious topping of some sort!

  2. wowzer, I had to come over here after seeing this drool worthy picture.

  3. Apple pie is one of my favorites and this one looks fabulous! I'm afraid I'd have a few nut pickers, too, though :) PS...I've copied your chocolate angel pie to try...I thought it was the same as one I started making 25 years ago, but your filling looks even better...mmmmmm.

  4. This looks amazing! I love the non-traditional topping on this with the pecans! yum yum! Thanks for the tip on the vodka in the pie crust too! I had no idea!

  5. Wow, that looks decadent!! I love all those thin apple layers.

  6. Oh my word. Both how gorgeous that pie looks- and by sharing the vodka instead of water trick. You've just completely rocked my world. Thank you!

  7. I had heard about using the vodka in the crust idea also, but have forgotten to try it, what did you think? Did it make a difference? I love the way this looks and it sounds great. I am already committed to the kinds of pies for Thanksgiving buy have to remember this for sometime soon.

  8. Thanks, everyone, for the nice comments!

    Patti--I did like this recipe and I'm going to use it again. It seemed to make the crust easier to handle without making it tough.

  9. Apple pie is our family's favorite! In fact, I made one for my brother one time; we cut it into four big pieces and between the two of us we ate the entire pie in one sitting! It was soo good. I'll have to give the vodka trick a try - it's so crazy it has to be good.

  10. My sister in law used to make a pie like this with the amazing caramel nut topping. All I can say is Wowza! It was wonderful. I am sure yours was, too. Too funny about your dog....

  11. Your pie sounds delicious! Beautiful as well, I love praline and it would be amazing with apple! Buzz!

  12. Using Vodka instead of water is what I love. I can serve this pie to my drinking buddies

  13. It's a beautiful tart!
    It looks sooooooooooo delicious