Wednesday, October 6, 2010

An apple a day...


Pastry chefs and bakers are an amazing bunch...it astounds me the things they can make with sugar and flour and chocolate. And I happily eat most any dessert on any given night. 

Unfortunately, as you may have gathered from my prior pastry rant, I don't consider myself a baker. Sure, I always serve homemade dessert at dinner parties...I can follow the directions of a recipe and the dish will turn out just fine. But I don't have the patience to bake tray after tray of cookies, or the understanding of the ingredients to make things rise or puff or set. 

So in trying to come up with my own dessert dishes, it has to be something that doesn't involve too much chemistry. 

With the changing weather, I've been thinking a lot about apple pie. Years ago, when my uncle had apple and peach orchards, my mom would make homemade pies with his fruit. This was the kind of fruit you felt lucky to be eating...it was perfect. I've heard stories that my grandfather would hoard his peach pie and not share with anyone. Another story goes that if the customers at my uncle's fruit stand squeezed a peach, they would receive his wrath for handling the fruit that way. His fruit was ripe...no need to poke or prod or squeeze. He didn't take kindly to people bruising it. Not knowing if this was just lore, I called my dad to verify the story. He chuckled and said, "Hell yes, he'd yell at them!" I can so picture that.
                                               
My uncle no longer has his orchards, so my mom no longer makes pies. I'm sure she is quite pleased about this since she hates all things involving cooking and baking. I suppose then that I have to lay the blame on my uncle for selling his orchards. Otherwise, I might still have homemade apple pie.

I wanted to come up with a dessert that included the flavors of an apple pie, without all the work. So here's my easy version of the pies of my past...

Caramel Apple "Pies"

(Makes 6 individual desserts)                                                                 

2 apples, peeled and sliced (I used 1 Honeycrisp and 1 Granny Smith)
1/2 cup sugar, plus extra for topping
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons butter
24 caramel squares
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 sheet puff pastry, defrosted (or 2, depending on the size of your dishes)
1 egg

Whipped Cream:
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1-2 tablespoons sugar
1/4-1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

In a large pan, saute apples with butter, cinnamon and sugar until the apples start to soften. Stir in cornstarch. Remove from heat.

Put caramels and cream in a small pot and heat over medium heat. When caramels start to melt, stir constantly until completely melted.

Spoon caramel into the bottom of each dish, then top with apples. Cut the puff pastry to fit the the top of the dishes, leaving some filling showing on the sides. Brush pastry with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, or until pastry is puffed and golden brown.

For whipped cream: Whisk cream, vanilla, cinnamon and sugar in a mixer until peaks form. (Add more sugar and cinnamon to taste, if desired.)

Top with whipped cream and serve warm.


These little pies received much praise. The bubbly caramel and the cinnamon whipped cream gave this classic dessert a fun twist. Next time you don't feel like rolling out pie crusts, give these a try.

And remember: don't squeeze the fruit. At least not when you're being watched...

41 comments:

  1. This looks perfect! My kind of baking for sure!

    That's a funny story about your Uncle...I can just imagine a bunch of old ladies coming in tapping his fruit only to be put in their place! Funny :)

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  2. Karen, I'm with you on the whole baking thing! I love cookies and piece, but haven't baked much of anything besides banana bread since I was in high school. This looks fantastic!! Great recipe...

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  3. I had butchers in my family. Trust me, you don't want to hear those stories.

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  4. I love your take on apple pie! Sounds like the perfect dessert; easy, tasty and impressive looking.

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  5. Yes I am pleased that my brother no longer has the orchard and that I no longer have to bake.
    Mom

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  6. Mmmm puff pastry crust. I love the pic. I wouldn't even manhandle the fruit first.

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  7. Yum! If you're looking for some simple but tasty recipes, check out my friend Megan's blog - http://megan-deliciousdishings.blogspot.com/

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  8. Karen, I enjoy your writing. Very entertaining. And the pie looks delicious. Bless you, for using a sheet of ready-made puff. I'd be ready to hang up the apron if you went all French Cheffy and rolled your own! I've been eyeing the puff pastry in the freezer for days now...

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  9. This looks great! What a fun idea :) I love changing up traditional recipes.

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  10. A great idea for an apple "pie". Apples, caramel and cinnamon are the best!

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  11. These look lovely. When you say caramel squares, do you mean some kind of candy? Like soft caramel candy?

    I love those cute dishes too.

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  12. What a fantastic and comforting dessert. Apples really shine in pies/tarts or anything with pastry as hard as it is to make

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  13. This is a perfect dessert for the season! Really worth trying!

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  14. Looks good...I also don't have much patience for baking. I do it once in a while to force myself out of my cooking comfort zone, but something ends up happening...like batter all over me, perhaps ;)!

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  15. I love apples. They are great in almost anything, espcially pies! Yours look delicious, which reminds me that I have not bake a pie in ages. Will have to make it soon. Thanks for sharing.

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  16. Awesome dessert for Autumn. I'm not much of a baker either. As a matter of fact, the only time I've ever attempted an apple pie it was a complete disaster. Haha.

    As always your photos are great. Your pastry has a perfect color.

    Matt Kay

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  17. Clever twist on a classic! I'm just like you when it comes to baking--too much presssure and science and not enough patience! I can only imagine how amazing the peaches and apples must have been from your Uncle's orchard. Great golden colors in this dish!

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  18. the crust looks very cripsy, yum yum.

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  19. Love it... this is a fabulous treat!

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  20. I would love an apple pie on a cold day....makes me smile. Love how you make it with puff pastry. That looks easy. I made one recently using French pastry...my first time in making apple pie....very happy I did that.

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  21. I think this is a fantastic way to simplify the pie-making process and still get to enjoy apple pie! Very smart.

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  22. Perfect fall dessert! Great recipe.

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  23. I am so impressed! Great idea for individual desserts. Used puff pastry to make my turkey pot pie and it looks so nice. Now you gave me a reaon to buy another pack; thank you.

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  24. This looks wonderful! I do love apple pie, it is my favorite of all pies!

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  25. I have trouble with baking, especially pastry, too. Puff pastry is a great solution!

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  26. My kind of dessert! Easy and fun...but mostly delish. Yummm!

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  27. Yum, I love fall desserts! The crust looks so flaky and buttery!

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  28. i must steal this dessert for one of my sunday dinners hehe :)

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  29. Say no more I am already convinced that these babies tasted great. I only wish I had a bite.

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  30. @ Emma - The caramel squares are individually wrapped candies in clear cellophane...I used Kraft. http://www.kraftcanada.com/en/products/a-c/candy/kraftcaramels.aspx

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  31. I love baking, this looks SO GOOD and perfect for fall! Thank you so much for sharing and visiting our blog too.

    Jenifer

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  32. Your pie looks so tasty! Yum!

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  33. very creative. I've never made anything with puff pastry but after seeing this, I might just have to try!

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  34. Post was removed because Anne didn't proof read her comment :)

    Wow Karen! This recipe looks fantastic! I love using puff pastry and I love apple pie. It's a match made in your kitchen!

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  35. I love this recipe!

    I'm featuring it on my Friday Favourites feature this week! Feel free to check it out! :)

    R.
    akajolie.blogspot.com

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  36. Karen, thank you for this wonderful dessert. It is easy to make and so YUMMY! It really is one to try, not just admire the photos. I will definitely make this again. It is truly a keeper.

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  37. Hello, I haven't had any chance to say thank you for being an online friend on Foodbuzz. Thank you :)

    What a talented cook you are. This look superb!

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  38. My kiddos would love these! I would because they are much easier to make than messing with a whole pie.

    While I enjoy cooking I am more comfortable baking.
    ~ingrid

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