Most apple pies are sweet-and-wholesome grandma pies. The kind you imagine would be cooling on a windowsill somewhere with birds chirping nearby. All sugar and spice and everything nice.
This pie is naughty. The kind that will spank you without using a switch. A buttery pie crust filled with cinnamon-spiked apples swaddled in Southern Comfort caramel and crowned with praline.
It’s a pulling-out-all-the-stops kind of pie. Like a red bra, it’s completely impractical for everyday situations, but if you need to get a jaw to drop in five seconds flat, it could be your weapon of choice.
Keep it off the windowsill, and serve it up hot.
Southern Comfort Caramel Apple Pie
Adapted from Rebecca Rather’s “The Pastry Queen”
Yield: 8 to 10 servings
Basic Pie Crust:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2/3 cup (11 tablespoons) chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 4 to 5 tablespoons ice water
- 1/2 cup pecans
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar, packed
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup (5 1/3 tablespoons) chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 5 to 6 medium-size tart apples, such as Braeburn, Cortland or Winesap
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
- 1 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup Southern Comfort liqueur
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- Vanilla or cinnamon ice cream
- Whipped cream
- Caramel sauce
- To Make the Crust: Using a food processor, pulse to combine the flour, salt and sugar. Add butter; pulse until the mixture looks crumbly. Add 4 tablespoons ice water, and pulse until the dough begins to form a ball. If it doesn’t, add the additional 1 tablespoon water, and pulse. Gently mold the dough into a disk,; wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
- Clean your food processor (you can just wipe it out) to make the topping.
- To Make the Topping: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Arrange the pecans on a baking sheet in a single layer, and toast them in the oven for about 7 minutes, until golden brown and aromatic. Coarsely chop the nuts.
- In a food processor, process both sugars, the cinnamon, salt and flour for about 1 minute. Add butter; pulse 10 to 15 times, until the mixture is crumbly. Stir in the pecans. Refrigerate the topping, covered, in a a medium bowl until ready to use.
- Transfer the unwrapped pie dough to a lightly floured flat surface. Roll it into a 1/8-inch-thick circle large enough to cover the bottom and sides of a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate. (To keep the dough from sticking, gently pick it up every once in a while and rotate it in place, adding more flour underneath if necessary.)
- Wrap the dough lightly over the rolling pin, and set it in the ungreased pie plate. Press it into place, and crimp the outside edges with your finger or a fork.
- To Make the Filling: Increase the oven temperature to 375 degrees F. Peel, core and cut the apples into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
- When the butter starts to foam, add the apples and sauté for 5 to 8 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together cinnamon and sugar. Sprinkle it on the apples, and reduce the heat under the skillet to medium-low. Simmer the apples for about 1 minute.
- Using a slotted spoon, transfer the apples from the skillet to a large baking sheet, and arrange them in a single layer. (If you heap them in a pile, the hot apples will steam and get soggy.)
- Pour the Southern Comfort into the butter-sugar mixture in the skillet. Simmer the mixture over medium heat at least 5 minutes, until the alcohol burns off. Add the cream, and continue cooking about 5 to 10 minutes, until the mixture is thick as pourable caramel. Return the apples to the skillet.
- Pour the apple filling into the unbaked pie crust, and sprinkle the topping evenly over the apples. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until the filling is bubbling and the topping is brown. Serve the pie warm or at room temperature with ice cream, whipped cream or caramel sauce.