Kitchen Adventures: As easy as apple pie

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Food column by Becca Owsley

By Becca Owsley

Food in the fall often means baking something with apples.

An apple pie with a big scoop of ice cream is a standard dessert in the fall. But there are variations on the apple pie that are just as delicious and remain as easy as the original. One of my favorite things to eat in fall is caramel apples. When I found a recipe that basically was a caramel apple in the form of pie, I just had to try it.

It is a recipe that won the “Pie of Emeril’s Eye” contest on “Good Morning America” a few years ago. Hats off to its creator. It more than deserved the win.

There were a few problems while baking, but they were all my fault for getting in too much of a hurry to get the pie done. I didn’t let the crust cool completely before adding the caramel and the bottom of the springform pan might have been put in upside down. One of those two things made the crust stick to the bottom of the pan and it wasn’t easy to serve.

Regardless of the complications, there were no complaints about the taste, even if it was pretty messy to serve.

An apple peeler, corer and slicer kitchen tool was handy when slicing the apples thinly for the pie. This tool uses a vise grip to attach it to the counter top. The apple is attached to a spike on the end of a rod. Then you crank the rod that twists the apple as it peels and slices. The device not only makes slicing and peeling apples easier, but it’s pretty fun to use.

For aesthetic purposes, a springform pan makes for a clean look when serving. This is a pan with sides that unlock and can be removed. But if you don’t have one, you could always serve from the pie plate.

Both the kitchen tool and springform pan can be purchased in most kitchen supply departments and specialty stores.

Some people say you can’t be a southerner unless you like pecans, but I’m not a fan of the pecan so I left them out of the recipes. For those of you who do like pecans, it will add an extra crunch to the dish.

The end result is more like an apple caramel cheesecake than an apple pie but it tasted amazing.

Becca Owsley can be reached at (270) 505-1741 or bowsley@thenewsenterprise.com.

Candy Apple Pie
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
Apple Filling:
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 egg
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.
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.
In a large 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.
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.

Source: MiMi Hodge, winner of "Good Morning America’s" “Pie of Emeril’s Eye” contest, 2000