Apple Pecan Salted Caramel Pie

Sometimes, you just want a slice of the classic – and hey, what’s more classic than an apple pie?

Of course, even the classics could use a little tweaking. Back in the day, it was enough for us that a dessert be simply, unalloyedly sweet, but, happily, we’ve moved on from those days. Now we look for more textures, more layers, more balance between the sweet and the tart, the spicy or the salty. So we take a handful (or two) of pecans and a smidgen of salt, add a dimension and make a better apple pie.

We also tried to make it a little prettier by gussying up our crust. Here she is before going into the oven.

And here she is, out of the oven, fresh, fruity and fragrant. Because we couldn’t decide what crust we’d like more, we made a mix between a butter crust (those little leaves!) and a crumb crust. Stick with a crumb topping, if you like. It will work beautifully. We crushed the pecans, but as you can see, only ever so slightly. When we make this pie again in the future (as I am sure we will), the only thing we’d change in this recipe is to add maybe just another half handful of pecans.

The apple of choice for this recipe: the Fuji variety. We have used it before in several apple-filled baked goods and it has yielded lovely results. It’s sweet but tart and it carries sweetness and spice very well. But baking them as raw filling might not achieve the texture you normally want in an apple pie. The trick, then, is to pre-cook. Don’t worry, the Fuji apple is firmer than other baking apples (like the Gala or the Golden Delicious). Your filling will stand up to pre-cooking and a round of baking in the oven.

Related: Here is an excellent guide and taste test on Finding the Best Apples for Baking from Serious Eats.

For the bottom crust:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour (plus more for dusting)
1/2 cup / one stick of butter
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
4-5 tbs ice cold water
1 tbs lemon juice or vinegar

For the filling:
6-7 Fuji apples, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup pecans, lightly crushed
1 cup light brown sugar
1 1/4 evaporated milk
3/4 stick unsalted butter
3 tbsp cinnamon
2 tbsp ground ginger
1 tbsp nutmeg
1 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp lemon juice

For the crumb topping:
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/4 stick unsalted butter, softened and cut into small pieces
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup pecans, lightly crushed

Make your bottom crust. Combine butter (cubed for easier handling) and mix in 2/3rds of the flour, salt, sugar and water. Work until no dry flour remains and the dough is clumpy. Add vinegar or lemon juice. Sprinkle the remaining flour and work until all the flour is incorporated. Roll into ball. Transfer to a large bowl. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours. Roll and place in a well-greased 9-inch tart pan. Trim and crimp edges. Put aside the dough that you trim off for shaping if you want to create small butter crust pieces for your topping.

Make your filling. Sprinkle apples with lemon juice. Combine dry ingredients in large bowl and add apples. Toss to mix. Add evaporated milk. Melt butter in skillet or pan. Add apple mixture and cook approximately 10-12 minutes or until apples are soft and the liquid has thickened and turned golden. Add lightly crushed pecans. Set aside to cool.

Make your topping. In a bowl, combine flour, light-brown sugar and salt. With your hands, work in butter until large, moist clumps form. Sprinkle lightly crushed pecans. Optional: Take left over trimmed dough, roll out and cut them into any shape that you like. Chill, covered, until ready to use.

Assemble your pie. Preheat oven to 400ºF / 204ºC. Pour your filling into your pie crust. Sprinkle crumble topping. Optional: Place your butter crust pieces on top of the filling. Bake pie for 40 minutes (add 15-20 minutes baking time if baking the pie frozen) or until pie juices bubble and topping is a golden brown color. Cool on wire rack.

Have some pie. Slightly warm, maybe with a slice of French vanilla or salted caramel ice cream.

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2 thoughts on “Apple Pecan Salted Caramel Pie

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