Apple-Caramel Pie

I call this pie a delicious disaster. It was soooo good, but the recipe could use a little work. I found it in
Delicious Disney, a cookbook I couldn't help picking up when I was in Downtown Disney a few weeks ago. A little digression: I love this cookbook for the simple reason that there are little Mickeys hidden in the food pictures -- some obvious like the drizzled cream on strawberry soup and some more subtle like an herb cutout on a piece of fish. They're adorable!

But back to the pie. This is the first recipe I've tried from Delicious Disney. The title and picture easily convinced me: Apple-Caramel Pie. And when I saw it had sugar cookie crust, it was a done deal.

The first problem I encountered, though, was that the pie is supposed to be made in a springform pan (mine's been hanging out at my parents' house since some distant holiday). I thought I could just make it in a deep pie dish. It was called a pie, afterall. And I didn't mind not being able to take the sides off. It was just going to be eaten at home and not displayed or showed off anywhere.

Step 1 was to butter the pan, which my boyfriend eagerly volunteered to do for me and proceeded to be a perfectionist about. There's no problem with being a bit OCD when it comes to buttering pans -- lessens the likelihood of anything sticking.

While he did that, I mixed a package of Pillsbury sugar cookie dough with flour in the KitchenAid.

Then I pressed the dough into the well-buttered dish. I walked away and moved onto peeling apples, and my boyfriend stepped in again with these newfound OCD tendencies and pressed, smoothed, and evened out the dough. It really did look much better when he finished. Maybe I was just too tired to care as much as I usually do about presentation.

Then we got a good system going with me peeling apples and him slicing them. But here's where I encountered another problem. The recipe says to cut the apples into half-inch thick slices. I advised my boyfriend to go a little thinner than that, but I was skeptical. I kept looking at the picture in the book and looking at our apples. Next time I make this, I'm going to follow my instincts and cut the apples into 1/4- to 1/8-inch thick slices. They would have layered much better.

We tossed the apple slices into a bowl of cinnamon, sugar, and flour and then spread them over the crust.

Here came my next issue. The recipe said to pour 3/4 cup of caramel over the apple slices.

Three-fourths cup is a lot of caramel. I think 1/4 would be enough, and it should be stirred into the apples rather than poured on top. At any rate, I covered the caramelly mess with foil and baked it for an hour.

While it baked, I prepared the streusel, or crumb topping. I was supposed to make it with the KitchenAid, but I've always just used a fork to make streusel, so I stuck with what I knew worked. It consists of all the usual ingredients: flour, sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, melted butter, and -- a bit of a surprise -- vanilla extract.

When the timer finally went off, I removed the foil from the pie to reveal deliciously syrupy apples.

I covered these with the crumb topping, which was probably way too much topping for this size pie, but I used it all anyways because I happen to really like crumb topping. Again, my suddenly perfectionist boyfriend watched over my shoulder and stepped in to smooth and evenly redistribute the crumbs.

Back into the oven went the pie I had already half-eaten with my eyes. It took about 20 minutes for the crumb topping to harden a little and lose its super crumbly consistency.

Then -- after more waiting, this time for the pie to cool -- I drizzled it with icing made of confectioner's sugar and a little water.

And then more caramel.

And it was really good. The caramel and apples were a little soupy at first, but once I removed one wedge, all the liquid gathered in the empty spot, and the rest of the pie was fine. I think next time I would make my own sugar cookie dough. Pillsbury dough is good enough when you want sugar cookies in a pinch, but it's maybe too sweet for this recipe. Once we have an appetite for apple pie again -- because I'm sure we won't for a while after splitting this between the two of us -- I'm going to give this another shot with my fixes, and I'll post a whole recipe for you.

In the meantime, what's your favorite way to eat apple pie? Do you like crumb topping like I do? Or do you prefer top crust? Do you eat your pie with ice cream or cheese?