I was getting a toothache while I was making this pie. Every step felt like another cup of brown sugar and I was worried that it was going to taste like a spoonful of sugar.
However, after tasting it I started wondering why I was so worried about that. It definitely was one of the most sugary pies that I've made, but the apples, graham-cracker crust, and whipped cream were enhanced by the added caramel. I'm not sure it could have taken any more sugar, but I while eating it, I definitely didn't want any less sugar. This is definitely one of those pies that you can count on being a crowd pleaser no matter the crowd.
I don't know how I came across this pie exactly. There are several people who have posted about this recipe but ultimately it was because of what was written on the Doughmesstic's blog that made me want to make it. She told about last year's rigged Martha Stewart pie contest--one that I also attended. It's maybe only funny to read if you were there or if you're interested in reading about what it's like to go to the Martha Stewart show.
In any case, whether it was rigged or not, there was no competition between the pies that I took and this pie (though this wasn't even a finalist). So, I'm over being upset about the contest being rigged--mine were not this tasty, that's for sure.
Also, I must say that this is a pie that Ryan hasn't actually tasted (yet). My boss gave me a bunch of apples so I brought this pie in and shared it with my boss and the rest of the office. I set it out on the break room table and it within 1/2 hour the pie pan had been licked clean and there were people monitoring others slices so they could hopefully get a bigger pie of the pie. So, needless to say, I'll have to make a special one just for him.
One other note, I made the graham crackers and the caramel sauce from scratch rather than buying them at the store. Several people have commented over the past year about how that seems crazy of me to make these cheap, store-bought ingredients, however, I would like to once again bear my testimony about how much better the finished product tastes with just a little bit more preparedness and a lot less HFCS. I mention it here because I think that is especially true for this pie since it is so simple.
The caramel recipe is below (by the way there is a lot of extra but it is super easy and perfect for other things like ice cream or dipping apples--so don't let it go to waste) and, I will link you back to my blog post that has a graham cracker recipe (the same one I used here).
So...I really don't think that there's more to say on this one. It's delicious and even if it was a big spoonful of sugar, it seemed to make the medicine of work go down a lot smoother.
Candy Apple Pie
(Adapted from MiMi Hodge, winner of Good Morning America’s “Pie of Emeril’s Eye” Contest, 2000)
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs*
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup caramel ice cream topping**
1 cup chopped pecans
5 Granny Smith apples (peeled, cored, sliced very thin)
5 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Cream Cheese Topping:
8 ounces cream cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup heavy cream, whipped
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup caramel ice cream topping
1/4 cup chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
For the Crust: In a medium bowl, combine the crumbs, sugar, cinnamon and melted butter. Mix well and press into a 10-inch pie plate and up the sides. Bake for 6 to 8 minutes until golden in color. Remove pie shell from oven and cool completely. Pour caramel into pie shell and sprinkle with 1 cup of chopped pecans. Refrigerate pie shell while making apple filling.
For the Apple Filling: In a large (12-inch) skillet over medium heat, melt butter and add brown sugar, salt and cinnamon. Stir with a wooden spoon. Add apples and stir. Cook over medium to medium-high heat for 15 to 20 minutes until apples are softened and tender. Let cool for 10 minutes and pour into pie shell. Reduce oven to 350 degrees F.
For the Cream Cheese Topping: In a medium bowl, using a hand-held mixer on low speed, combine cream cheese and sugar for about 1 minute until smooth. Add egg, lemon juice and vanilla and beat for 1 minute or until fully blended. Pour over apple filling in pie shell. Bake for 30 minutes until an inserted knife comes out clean. Remove pie from oven and let cool. Refrigerate for 4 hours. Let stand outside the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Top with whipped cream, caramel and pecans, and swirl with a knife. Slice and serve.