Caramel Apple Pie

Amazing what caramels and chocolate can do to bump up an apple pie.  This is my own recipe -- an award winner.  If you aren't a fan of caramel apples, omit the chocolate and caramels, you'll end up with a pretty great French apple pie. Perfect for Thanksgiving or the 4th of July. It looks really involved, but don't let that intimidate you. It's worth it.  You can make it easy on your self by purchasing ready made crust. 

Speaking of crust this recipe makes enough for two, but since I'm making a crumb topping, I freeze half for another day, or you can use it to make hand pies if you have leftover apples.  

If you are new to pie baking:

1. Buy a silicone pastry mat from Pampered Chef. I can't make pie or rolls without it. It makes rolling out dough SO much easier than trying to roll it out on a counter top or between waxed paper.

2. Get a good rolling pin with ball bearings. It helps you roll a nice even crust.

3. A food processor helps too. If you don't have one, then get a pastry blender (it's a hand tool) to do the work of cutting the butter into the dry ingredients when you make the crust.

4.  I used a 10 inch glass pie pan to bake.

Good luck!! You'll get raves, I promise!!

For the Crust:

2 cups flour plus 1/2 cup for dusting and rolling out 
teaspoon salt
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoons ice water
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar

For the Filling:

5 peeled and cored apples (I use Granny Smiths)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 1/2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon allspice
5  Wherther's soft caramels, cut in half (you can also use Brach's) use scissors to cut.
2 tablespoons semi-sweet chocolate chips

For the Crumb Topping:
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 pinch salt
1/3 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans

To Make Crust:

Place butter and shortening in freezer for 15 minutes. When ready to use, remove and cut both into small pieces.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, sugar and salt by pulsing 3 to 4 times. Add butter and pulse 6 to 12 times until texture looks mealy. Add shortening and pulse another 3 to 4 times. (If you don't have a food processor, use a pastry blender for this step.)

Remove lid of food processor and sprinkle surface of flour mixture thoroughly with ice water. Replace lid and pulse 5 times. Repeat this process until the dough holds together when squeezed.  (If necessary, add more ice water a tablespoon at a time.)

Divide the dough in half. Place each half in a large zip lock bag and seal. While the dough is still in the bag, gently form the dough into a ball, and then press into a rounded disk and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (so the gluten will form).

Place your pie pan in the freezer for about 15 minutes before rolling out dough.

Spray the surface where you will be rolling out the dough with Pam. Do the same with the rolling pin. Then flour the rolling surface and rolling pin well. Remove 1 disc of dough from refrigerator. Roll out from center to about 1/8” thickness. Fold in half, lift into pan. Open and shape to pan. Do not trim the edges as you will fold these back onto the pie when once you have added the crumb topping.

To Make the Filling:

In a large mixing bowl, combine all the filling ingredients except for the caramels. Let stand 15 minutes before filling pie shells.

To Make Crumb Topping:

Place the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter or margarine until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Mix in pecans.

To Assemble:

Carefully place the apple filling into the prepared pie shell. Sprinkle the caramels and chocolate chips over the top of the apples. Cover the apples with the crumb mixture. Fold the edges of the pie crust over the tipping so it makes a border.

Bake at 400 degrees for 50 minutes. To check for doneness, pierce pie with a skewer to see if fruit is tender.

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