My great-great grandmother was known for her sweet caramel pie and her even sweeter spirit. She was alive until she was 99 years young. Unfortunately for me, she suffered from Alzheimer’s most of the 15 years I got to know her, so I never got to try that legendary caramel pie. But I do hear about it year after year, so this holiday season, I thought I better attempt my own. The simplicity and nostalgia of a caramel pie has always intrigued me.
My first ever caramel pie was gorgeous with a mile-high meringue. But it didn’t set well. My second pie set perfectly, but we decided it lacked pizazz, umph, the X factor. So for the 3rd attempt, I took a public vote. Add apple, pear, or both? We ended up somewhere right around a tie….so I went with both!
It turned out amazing! We loved it. The fruit just added some texture and depth to the already glorious caramel flavor. You could easily do just apple or just pear, but the tart apple and the sweet pear complimented eachother so well. So enjoy!! As with any recipe, make it your own, so that it graces your table often.
For the Crust:
- 5 c. flour
- 1 1/2 c. butter
- 1/2 c. butter flavored Crisco
- 1 1/4 c. milk
- pinch of salt
For the Fruit:
- 3 Granny Smith Apples
- 2 Pears
- 2 T sugar
For the Caramel:
- 3/4 c. sugar
- 2 c. milk
- 3 egg yolks
- 4 Tbs. flour
- 3/4 . sugar
- 1 T. butter
- 1 tsp. vanilla
For the Meringue:
- 4 egg whites
- 1/4 c. sugar
1. For the crust, sprinkle a pinch of salt into your flour. Cut in your butter, and mix until crumbly.
2. Add in the milk and mix until smooth.
3. On a well-floured surface divide dough into 2 manageable balls. Knead in more flour until the dough is really smooth and not sticky.
4. Roll out one of your balls until its roughly 14 in. in diameter or big enough to cover your deep dish pie pan in the bottom and up the sides.
5. Carefully fold it in half and using a large spatula pick it up and place in your pie pan. Unfold and gently press into your pan and crimp your edges. *The remaining dough can be vacuum sealed or put in a freezer bag and frozen for your next pie*
6. Pie experts have pie beads to pre-bake crusts…..but I don’t, so I use mason jar lids to keep the crust from bubbling. Whatever you use, place on your crust, and bake at 375 for 10-12 minutes, or until your crust starts to brown.
7. While your crust cooks, slice your apples and pears into bite size pieces. I like to leave the skins on, but most people don’t. So peel your fruit or don’t. Make it yours!
8. Place in a heavy bottomed pot with the sugar, and cook over medium heat until softened. Remove from heat, and let cool in a separate bowl. You’ll need the pot.
9. Don’t forget about your crust! Remove from the oven and let cool.
10. In the same heavy pot you used for your fruit, caramelize 3/4 cup of sugar. Whisk it often over medium heat until it begins to turn brown and liquify. Don’t rush this step…too much heat will burn your sugar instead of caramelize it. You’ll definitely smell the difference!
11. While your sugar is caramelizing, mix your other ingredients in a separate pot. 2 cups of milk, 3 egg yolks, 4 T. flour and 3/4 cup of sugar. Whisk continuously over med-low heat until thickened.
12. The custard and the caramel should finish at about the same time. When they do, pour one into the other and whisk continuously.
13. Continue to whisk until it’s thick….even thicker than it already is; about 5 minutes. This is the step I cut short in my first attempt…and the reason my pie didn’t set.
14. Spread your cooled fruit into your pie crust.
15. Pour your thickened caramel custard over your fruit. It will set as it cools.
16. In yet a separate bowl or with a stand mixer, beat your egg whites. Add in the sugar and continue to beat, until stiff peaks form. Stiff peaks just mean when you pull the beater out, the whipped egg whites point straight up. They don’t curl over like a wave.
17. Gently, with a rubber spatula, scoop your meringue out onto your pie. It’s important that your meringue touches the crust on all sides or it will flop.
18. Bake in a 425 degree oven until it’s starting to brown on the spoon lines. Don’t walk away…it happens quickly.
19. Remove from the oven and let cool completely before cutting.
20. Leftovers can be stored in the fridge, but the meringue will start to disappear and flatten after about 8 hours.