I recently heard there is such a thing called “salt tooth” which is the same thing as “sweet tooth,” only it’s a label for those who crave salt instead of sweet. I have both (lucky me!), and if you suffer from this as well, salted caramel apple pie is everything we want in a dessert.
It’s got the tart apple component, a puffy + flaky crust, and sweet (sweet sweet!) caramel with a touch of salt. And since the touch of salt in the caramel just isn’t enough for me, I give the crust a sprinkle, too. Let’s just skip the turkey and go right to dessert.
If you’ve never made caramel, try to. It’s therapeutic, much like shoe shopping. The recipe I originally used started with sugar + water, but I later found there is no need for water. Sugar, all on its own, melts down to a beautiful amber liquid and it’s mesmerizing to watch. Once the sugar melts, you add the butter, then the cream, and it turns into heavenly caramel goodness. It’s a great gifting recipe – you an make batches of caramel, pour it in ball jars, pop a lid on, and gift – but it should be kept in the refrigerator (for up to two weeks) unless you follow canning steps to make it shelf stable.
I use a combination of granny smith apples (for tartness) and cortland, empire, or mackintosh for their sweet and tender consistency. And a note about the crust – I do a lattice crust on this pie because it’s pretty and like a puzzle to put together. You can definitely just roll out a single crust and put that on top, then crimp the edges. No rules and no judgement.
Salted Caramel Apple Pie
- 2 2/3 cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1/2 cup frozen solid vegetable shortening, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (MUST BE CHILLED IN FREEZER)
- 6 tablespoons (or more) ice water
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
Mix together the flour, salt, and sugar in a large bowl. Add butter and shortening and mix with your hands or a pastry blender until a coarse meal forms. Combine 6 tablespoons ice water and vinegar in small bowl. Drizzle over the flour mixture and stir with fork until moist clumps form, adding more water by teaspoonfuls if dough is dry. Gather dough into a ball and divide into two even portions. Flatten each into a disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, make the caramel:
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut up into 6 pieces
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon sea salt or fleur de sel
Place granulated sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. The sugar will start to form clumps, but eventually melt into a beautiful thick, amber/copper liquid as you continue to stir. Watch closely and be careful not to let it burn. Once the sugar is completely liquid, add the butter. Again, be careful because the caramel will bubble up quickly with the addition of butter. Stir until the butter is completely melted into the melted sugar, about 2-3 minutes. VERY CAREFULLY and slowly drizzle in the heavy cream while stirring. The mixture will bubble up and may splatter (and you don’t want to get hit by this splatter!). Let the mixture boil for about 2 minutes. It will rise in the pan as it boils. Remove pan from heat and stir in 1 teaspoon of sea salt. Set aside to cool.
Make ahead tip: You can make this caramel in advance and place it in a covered jar or container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Simply warm the caramel up for a few seconds in the microwave before using in the steps below.
For the crust, roll out half of dough to fit a 9 inch pie plate. Roll crust onto rolling pin and lift into pie plate. Press evenly into the bottom and sides. Move on to filling step:
- 2 large lemons
- 6 medium apples, combination of granny smith and mackintosh or personal favorites
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1/4 teaspoon allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- a pinch freshly grated nutmeg
Squeeze lemons into a large bowl, but lose the seeds. Slice apples very thinly (a mandoline is suggested, but I usually skip this). Place apple slices in the bowl of lemon juice. Drain the apples (very important!) and add flour mixture. Toss apples with your hands to coat evenly. Set aside.
Place 1/3 of apple mixture into pie crust. Top with 1/3 caramel sauce. Repeat twice with apples and caramel. I find I have about 1/4 cup caramel left over – you can use this for a drizzle when you serve the pie, OR just save for an ice cream sundae.
Create lattice with remaining pie dough and cut out apple shape if you wish. To lattice, you want lay one set on top then weave in opposite strips, and crimp edges. Brush with a beaten egg (to brown) and sprinkle with sea salt or fleur de sel. Bake for 20 minutes at 375 degrees. Reduce temperature to 335 degrees and bake for an additional 25 to 35 minutes. Let pie rest for at least 30 minutes, and serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream.
*If you find there is a lot of liquid in your pie (i.e. liquid caramel that hasn’t solidified yet), just carefully pour out into sink, or reserve- because the extra liquid is indeed caramel with some juices from the apples.
I’ve linked my favorite cooking tools below. If you have any questions, feel free to leave in the comments and I will do my best to answer!