RECIPE: "You Got your Apples in my Pecan Pie" Pie
On my quest to find the perfect entry for the recent apple pie contest I won, I tried a few pie ideas. This was one that almost became my entry. Almost! My husband and I love making pecan pies for our daughter's school craft fair/bake sale. People have pre-ordered it and even have commissioned us to make extra ones for their holiday dinners. It is a popular pie at the bake sale. The pecans are processed until you get a thick nut-butter. Then you add eggs and such to create a pecan custard. You get a nice crisp outside and chewy, melty inside with pecan pieces for decoration and texture. The recipe comes from an old Paul Prudhomme cookbook we found for 2 bucks at a resale store back in the 90's. It is frayed and torn, and has had much love over the years.
So I wondered, what if I created an apple layer on the bottom, with a pecan top? Could that be a unique take on both kinds of pie by merging them together? Similar to the old Reese's Peanut Butter Cup commercials (I know, I am totally aging myself). My family tried it and they voted for it to be the entry for the contest. I think it would have been a viable contender, but I felt the sage approach (see last post) was more unique. After agonizing over it, almost not even entering at all, getting a firm talking to from my 9-year-old about the drawbacks of being a quitter, I went with the brown butter sage one instead last minute. I think my husband was still bummed I did not go with this one.
But back to this pie. I think this pie would be a great Thanksgiving dessert, and I will say your younger guests will like it a lot...more than the sage brown-butter one. That pie is complex and different. It's not as friendly to children's palates like this one is. And this pie screams for some vanilla or caramel ice cream on top and some chicory coffee. Oh baby!
"You Got your Apples in my Pecan Pie" Pie
6 Tbsp. butter, chopped in 3/4 inch slices
1 cup plus 1 Tbsp. all-purpose white flour (pastry flour is even better)1/8 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. sugar
2.25 oz. cream cheese, very cold
1 Tbsp. apple juice with ice
1 1/2 tsp. cider vinegar
4 cups mix of apples (mostly gala, some golden delicious and some zester mixed in)
1 tsp. Frangelico or other nutty liquor
1/8 cup brown sugar
1/8 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. butter
1/2 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. cornstarch
1/3 cup dark roasted pecans
1/2 cup dark corn syrup
1 Tbsp. melted butter
1 tsp. vanilla
pinch of salt
1/2 cup pecan halves for the top
Make the bottom crust:
Cut up your butter into tablespoon-size chunks, wrap in plastic wrap and freeze for 30 minutes. In a Ziploc bag, add the flour, sugar and baking powder and freeze it as well for 30 minutes. In a food processor, pulse the flour a couple times.
Cut up the cream cheese in 3 chunks, and pulse into the flour until it looks like coarse cornmeal. Add the butter and pulse until the butter is the size of small peas.
Add the cider vinegar and pulse a few times. Add the chilled juice and pulse until the dough will come together when pressed with your finger (Do not over mix). If it doesn't, add a teaspoon more of juice and pulse a couple more times. Keep doing this until the dough comes together when pressed. It won't look like it will in the processor, and that's OK.
Pour the crumbly mixture on a large sheet of plastic wrap. Using your hands, fold the edge of the plastic wrap under your knuckles and press the dough. Keep doing this motion, using the plastic wrap as your barrier and helper to form the dough quickly into a ball. Fold it over itself a couple of times, then flatten into a disc. Cover completely with the wrap, and shape in your hands into a flat, round disc, about 1/4-1/2 inch thick. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least1 hour. Take it out ten minutes before rolling to make your life a little easier.
Roll dough out between two lightly floured sheets of plastic wrap into a circle to fit your pie pan giving yourself and extra 1/2 inch overhang. Peel the top saran piece off. Slip your hand under the saran and dough while placing your pie pan upside down above. Flip the dough over with the pie pan and place into the pie pan right side up. The plastic wrap will be on the top now. Peel the plastic wrap off after adjusting the dough to fit nicely. Press dough gently into the pan. Cut an even 1/2 inch overhang. With any extra dough, knead into a little ball and roll until flat again, Cut some decorative leaves (8-12) and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap the bottom crust as well as the leaves, and let rest in the fridge until ready to use. Can be done the night before.
Peel core and slice 3-4 cups of apples (pictured here, I used Johnathan which I think were too soft, personally. I like a mix; Gala is the right sweetness as well as holds a little shape while cooking. You can mix in a Macintosh or Golden Delicious for softness and juice, and maybe a Honeycrisp, Zestar or Granny Smith for some firmer tartness.) and mix with the sugars, Frangelico, and spices. Let macerate for 1 hour. In a large saute pan, add 1 Tbsp. butter. Melt over medium heat. Add the apples and cook on medium heat until beginning to soften. Take off heat and add cornstarch. Mix and set aside.
Make the pecan custard:
Brown the pecans in a small fry pan over medium heat until well browned but not burnt. Let cool. In a food processor, puree the pecans, scraping down the sides, until a thick paste forms. Add the eggs and dark corn syrup and process some more until smooth and creamy.
Assemble and Bake:
Place a baking sheet at the bottom-most rack in your oven. Preheat oven to 375˚ for 20 minutes.Take out your bottom crust and pour the apples in a layer evenly on the bottom. Next, pour the pecan custard over the apples. Take the pecan halves and starting in the outermost edge, create a circle with them. Create a second smaller circle in the center. Bake the pie directly on the baking sheet for 30-50 minutes. Cover the edges with tinfoil if it is getting brown too quickly. Bake the separate leaf decorations the last ten minutes of cooking. Take them out when nicely golden. The pie is done when the pecan filling is set and does not jiggle at all. There should be a dry top. Let cool for ten minutes. After that, you can place your baked leaf decorations in the open circle area in between the pecan circles. They will stick as the pie continues to cool and release steam. Serve warm with some ice cream.