Southern Comfort Caramel Apple Pie
This Saturday brings my nerdy and foodie sides together. March 14th is Pie Day. This year is the ultimate π Day since, at 9:26 and 53 seconds, it will be 3.141592653 (OK, I’m proud to be a nerd) Although I’m more of a cake person, this is not the weekend for that! Although my brother will say his favorite pie is Boston Cream Pie as a way to still have cake.
My favorite pie is strawberry rhubarb reminding me of summers in my Grandmother’s Vermont kitchen. With spring around the corner and the DC snow beginning to melt, I have dreams of banana cream and lemon meringue, French silk and coconut custard. But, for pie day I want to focus on something more decadent and over the top.
I am not sure where this recipe originated, and I have seen it on multiple blogs. I believe it started with Rebecca Rather, a Texas pastry chef known as the Pastry Queen. Generally, I’m not a huge fan of apple pie. I like it, but generally think there is something more exciting to have. This is not your standard apple pie, though. This pie is not for the faint of heart. It is loaded with butter and Southern Comfort. It is heaped with apples that bubble through the crunchy topping. This is for holidays and celebrations. This is when you want to wow your friends and family.
This pie has a lot of step and ingredients. It is not something you can toss easily together but is well worth the time and effort. This is the ultimate pie!
Southern Comfort Caramel Apple Pie
Basic Pie Crust
2 c. all-purpose flour
½ tsp. salt
2 Tbsp sugar
⅔ c. chilled, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
4 to 5 Tbsp ice water (I use Apple Brandy)
½ c. pecans
⅓ c. sugar
3Tbsp packed dark brown sugar
½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. salt
⅓ c. all-purpose flour
⅓ c. chilled, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
5-6 medium apples
½ c. unsalted butter
3 Tbsp cinnamon
1 c. sugar
¾ c. Southern Comfort liqueur
½ c. heavy cream
** I use a blend of apples. I use half Granny Smith and half of another sweet baking apple like Gala or Pink Lady.
** You can substitute whatever pie crust recipe you prefer.
1. Preheat the oven to 350 ° F
2. Crust ~ Mix together flour, salt, and sugar.
3. Add the butter. Using a food processor or pastry cutter, pulse until the mixture looks crumbly.
** I use a mixture of shortening and butter. In this case, I use 8 Tbsp butter and 3 Tbsp shortening.
4. Add the ice water (or other liquid) and mix until dough just begins to form a ball. Add additional liquid, as needed, only 1 Tbsp at a time. Mold into a disk and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for about an hour.
5. Topping ~ Spread the pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 7 minutes. Coarsely chop
**Toasting the pecans amplifies their flavor. I prefer to do this in a DRY sauté pan – no oil. I just shake the nuts around in the pan over medium heat until they begin to brown and you can smell the nutty aroma. Be careful not to burn.
6. Mix both sugars, cinnamon, salt, and flour. Add butter and pulse until the mixture is crumbly. Stir in the pecans. Refrigerate, covered, until needed.
7. Roll the chilled dough on a lightly floured surface into a ⅛ - inch – thick circle large enough to cover the bottom and sides of a 9 – inch DEEP-DISH pie plate.
8. Transfer the dough to the ungreased pie plate and crimp the outside edges.
9. Filling ~ Increase the oven temperature to 375 ° F. Peel, core, and slice the apples into ¼ - inch – thick slices.
10. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When butter starts to foam, add the apples and sauté for 5 minutes.
11. In a separate, small bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle over the apples. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer the apples for 1 minute more.
12. Using a slotted spoon, remove the apples to a large baking sheet. Leave as much of the liquid in the pan as possible.
**Lay the apples out flat on a sheet pan. If you pile them up or put them in a bowl, they will become soggy and mealy.
13. Pour the Southern Comfort into the butter – sugar mixture in the skillet. Simmer over medium heat for at least 5 minutes until the alcohol burns off
**To determine if the alcohol has burned off, take a deep smell over the skillet. It will burn your nostrils if there is still alcohol.
14. Add the cream and continue cooking about 5-10 minutes until the mixture is thick like pourable caramel. Return the apples to the skillet.
**Take the time to make sure the caramel is really thick. Adding the apples back adds more liquid that will thin it out. If you leave it runny at this point, the finished pie will not set properly and will run when cut.
15. Pour the apple filling into the unbaked pie crust and sprinkle the topping evenly over the apples.
16. Bake ~ 50-60 minutes until the filling is bubbling and the topping is brown. Bake on a baking sheet to catch spill over.
17. Serve warm or room temperature with caramel sauce, ice cream, and/or whipped cream.
I make hand-whipped cream almost every day. I am able to flavor it as I like and have control over the sugar content. This is super easy and adds an amazing aspect to any dessert. If I am making a large amount, I will use my kitchen aid, but I usually use a simple bowl and whisk.
For this pie, I make whipped cream that is slightly sweetened and add a good splash of calvados before whisking.