Desserts

Bourbon Caramel Apple Slab Pie

by Shawnda on December 18, 2013

in Apples,Christmas,Pies and Tarts,Thanksgiving

Bourbon Caramel Apple Slab Pie

Butter + Apples + Bourbon + Heavy cream = the best 10 pound apple pie you’ll ever sink you teeth into.

At dessert or breakfast.

Bourbon Caramel Apple Slab Pie

It’s a mash-up of 1) The Pastry Queen’s Southern Comfort Apple Pie, the very best apple pie I’ve ever eaten and 2) Tara’s Slab Apple Pie, the most beautiful apple pie I’ve ever seen. And I’ve made it 3 times in the last 3 weeks. 3. Times. That’s 30 lbs of apple pie!

Did you click the link to look at Tara’s version? No? I’ll wait. Because sweet flaky, buttery baby Jesus.

Bourbon Caramel Apple Slab Pie

The homemade pie crust is incredibly buttery and flaky and the apples inside are lightly coated with a cinnamony (it’s a word) bourbon caramel sauce. If you’re doing the math at home, that’s 5 sticks of butter.

And it’s so totally worth every single bite.

Bourbon Caramel Apple Slab Pie

Bourbon Caramel Apple Slab Pie

Sweet apples are served family-style in a bourbon-caramel sauce, underneath a buttery, flaky homemade pie crust.

Ingredients

  • For the crust
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 4 sticks (1 lb) of cold butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1-1 1/4 cup very cold water
  • For the filling
  • 6 lbs apples, peeled and sliced thin (I used a combo of Honeycrisp, Granny Smith, and Braeburn)
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup bourbon
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 egg, beaten with 1 Tbsp water

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt,
  2. Add the cubed butter (I cut the sticks into quarters lengthwise and then make 10-12 cuts for small cubes) to the bowl, toss to coat, and then cut the butter into the flour until the butter cubes are about the size of small peas. You can use a pastry cutter or two knives. I use my fingers - it's a workout!
  3. Add 1 cup of the cold water and stir with a spoon at first, and then use your hands to fold the dough a few times to create one large ball - add the additional water if necessary to bring it all together.
  4. Divide the dough into two pieces - I weighed the ball and pulled 2/3 off for the bottom crust, leaving the remaining 1/3 for the top crust.
  5. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.
  6. Preheat the oven to 375.
  7. To make the filling, melt the butter over medium heat in a large pot (you'll be adding the apples to the pot - I use my big "pasta pot").
  8. Stir in the sugar, salt, and cinnamon.
  9. Let the mixture come to a slow steady boil and cook for ~10 minutes.
  10. Add the whiskey and cook for another ~10 minutes.
  11. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and heavy cream.
  12. While the mixture is cooking, line a 11x17 jelly roll pan with parchment (or just butter it).
  13. Flour your work surface and roll the bottom crust to a rectangle larger a few inches larger than then pan.
  14. Transfer it to the pan, making sure it is big enough to hang over the edges, and then put it back into the fridge.
  15. Roll out the top crust to about the same size of the pan.
  16. Put the apples in the still warm caramel sauce, stirring until all of the apples are coated.
  17. Pour the apples into the prepared pan, spreading out into an even layer.
  18. Top with the other crust, fold the excess crust over the top crust, and then crimp the edges.
  19. Take a knife and cut several small venting slits over the top of the pie and brush with the egg wash.
  20. Bake in the top of the oven (with a large pan or foil on the shelf below - you will get spatters and drips) for ~45 minutes, until the crust is golden brown.
  21. Take out, let stand for ~15 minutes, and then enjoy with an optional (just do it) scoop of Salted Caramel Gelato on top.

Notes

Yields: ~18 servings

Adapted from The Pastry Queen and Smells Like Home

Estimated time: 2 hours

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Gingerbread Caramel Popcorn

by Shawnda on December 16, 2013

in Appetizers,Candy,Christmas,DIY

Gingerbread Caramel Corn

I am all cookied out. Every single cookie that I brought home from last weekend’s exchange is gone. I didn’t eat them all, because that would be a terrible idea, but I had my share. And now I can’t even bring myself to edit the photos for the butterscotch cookie post that’s hanging out in my drafts folder.

I’m so over cookies that I’m actually looking forward to a spinach salad for lunch.

Gingerbread Caramel Corn

What I am not over, besides that salad, is caramel popcorn. But not just any caramel corn. Caramel corn spiked with a generous dose of gingerbread spices.

It’s Christmas in a bowl… you know, if you’d ever put Christmas into a bowl and then try to ruin it by sitting on the couch to hate-watch a Homeland mini-marathon. But at least while the frustratingly empty minutes tick by, your house smells like gingerbread and you have handful after handful of spicy, crunchy gingerbread caramel corn to keep you company.

Gingerbread Caramel Corn

Caramel popcorn gets a holiday makeover with a generous dose of gingerbread spices.

Ingredients

  • 6 cups popped popcorn (the yield from 1/3 rounded cup of kernels)
  • Cooking spray or parchment paper
  • 6 Tbsp butter
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar*
  • 3 Tbsp light corn syrup
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Scrapings from 1 vanilla bean (can substitute 1 tsp vanilla extract or paste)
  • 2-3 tsp gingerbread spice (purchased or homemade)
  • * I don't buy brown sugar so I substitute with 1 tsp molasses + 1/3 cup granulated sugar.

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 300.
  2. Spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray or line it with parchment. Have a rubber spatula handy.
  3. Pop the popcorn and transfer it to a large bowl.
  4. Heat the butter, sugar, molasses, corn syrup, and salt in a medium sauce pan over medium-high heat, stirring frequently.
  5. Once the mixture comes to a boil, add 2 tsp gingerbread spice and cook another 5 minutes.
  6. Let a little of the mixture cool on a spoon and then taste - not gingerbread-y enough? Add another tsp of spices.
  7. Remove from heat and add the vanilla.
  8. Stir and immediately pour over the popcorn.
  9. Use a rubber spatula to stir until the popcorn is nicely coated and then transfer to the baking sheet, spreading out to an even layer.
  10. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring once halfway through.
  11. Let cool ~15 minutes before eating.
  12. Store leftovers in a ziptop bag on the counter... if you have leftovers.

Notes

Yields: 6 1-cup servings

Adapted from Bourbon Caramel Popcorn

Estimated time: 45 minutes

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Orange and Cranberry Curd Squares

This truly is the most wonderful time of the year.

After our Fairy Mermaid Princess (Princess Mermaid Fairy?) waved goodbye to the last of the trick or treaters, we turned off the lights and gave The Little her choice of Hocus Pocus or Charlie Brown to help wind down from the excitement of the night. Because nothing blows a 3 year old’s mind more than seeing other kids dressed in a costume.

Momma, look! That boy has a face on top of his other face!

She, who ended up sleeping in her Mermaid Fair Princess tutu-dress thingy – again – chose Charlie Brown… Christmas. So here we are, on November 1st with the first holiday dessert of the year already half gone.

Orange and Cranberry Curd Squares

In my defense, we didn’t have a single piece of Halloween candy left over. So we went with the next best thing for breakfast today: Orange & Cranberry Curd Squares.

You might recognize the recipe from its cousin post, Grapefruit Curd Squares. Because next to a margarita, those bars are still the greatest things to happen to a grapefruit.

And these bars aren’t that far from being the greatest things to ever happen to cranberries. Or cranberry juice, I should say.

Orange and Cranberry Curd Squares

Pies will get their moment to shine but for now, we’re perfectly happy ushering in the holiday season with a batch of beautiful citrusy & tart cranberry bars.

Plus, it’s far harder to pass off a piece of pie as breakfast.

Orange-Cranberry Curd Squares

A citrusy shortbread cookie topped with a beautiful red cranberry curd.

Ingredients

  • For the cookie base:
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • Zest from 2 small oranges, divided (and fruit reserved for juicing later... or just eating)
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, cold and cut into 8 pieces
  • For the cranberry curd:
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup cranberry juice*
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 Tbsp yogurt or sour cream
  • Powdered sugar, for serving
  • 1-2 drops red gel coloring (optional)
  • *We're talking about the pure, unadulterated 100% "why did I wear white today" cranberry juice, brands like RW Knudsen. Not the juice cocktail kind with pear and apple juice.

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Spray an 8x8 baking pan with non-stick spray.
  3. Add flour, salt, sugar, 2/3 of the orange zest, and butter pieces to the small bowl of your food processor and process for ~1 minute, until the butter has been completely distributed into the dry ingredients and there are no traces of powder left. (You can do this by hand, it will just take a few minutes longer - just smash the sugar with the orange zest first to better distribute the orange flavor.)
  4. Spread mixture evenly into the prepared baking pan and press down firmly.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes, until the edges brown.
  6. Let cool for 20 minutes.
  7. Whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt in a medium mixing bowl.
  8. Whisk in the remaining orange zest, cranberry juice, eggs, and yogurt until thoroughly combined and lump-free.
  9. Not overall thrilled with the color of the mixture? Consider adding just a drop or two of red gel coloring. Happy now? Great, let's move on.
  10. Pour over cookie crust and bake for 20-25 minutes, until just set - the center should jiggle but not be fluid when you gently shake the pan.
  11. Let cool in pan for 30 minutes and then run the tip of a knife around the edges of the pan to loosen.
  12. Allow to cool completely before cutting into 12 squares and serving dusted with powdered sugar.
  13. Leftovers will keep a few days covered, at room temp or in the fridge.
  14. Fabulous eaten cold and called breakfast. Not that I'd know.

Notes

Yields: 12 servings

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma's Lemon Curd Squares

Estimated time: 2 hours

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Bourbon & Salted Caramel Popcorn

by Shawnda on October 17, 2013

in Appetizers,Candy,DIY

Bourbon & Salted Caramel Popcorn

I hesitate to oversell and call that bowl of awesomeness “amazing” because it’s “just” caramel popcorn. But if caramel popcorn can be called amazing, then that stuff most certainly is amazing.

It’s “just” popcorn coated in caramel sauce and baked. But that super easy caramel sauce is made in barely 10 minutes, without even requiring a candy thermometer.

Bourbon & Salted Caramel Popcorn

And then that super easy caramel sauce is spiked with a generous bit of salt, a vanilla bean, and an ounce of bourbon. That bag of sweet and borderline-stale stuff you get in the foil bag at the baseball game? It has nothing on the molasses and vanilla notes in this grownup version.

“Just” amazing? Yeah. It totally is.

Bourbon & Salted Caramel Popcorn

I imagine that just about any whiskey would work. The first batch disappeared so quickly and used the last of the bourbon that I had to make a second batch with Crown Royal Black.

But I like run and stuff and therefore have no problems justifying caramel popcorn for dinner. Or breakfast.

Bourbon & Salted Caramel Popcorn

A grown-up homemade caramel popcorn spiked with bourbon and vanilla bean.

Ingredients

  • 6 cups popped popcorn (the yield from 1/3 rounded cup of kernels)
  • Cooking spray or parchment paper
  • 6 Tbsp butter
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar**
  • 3 Tbsp light corn syrup
  • Heaping 1/4 tsp salt, plus more for sprinkling**
  • Scrapings from 1 vanilla bean (can substitute 1 tsp vanilla extract or paste)
  • 4 Tbsp bourbon (or other whiskey)
  • * I don't buy brown sugar so I substitute with 1 tsp molasses + 1/3 cup granulated sugar.
  • ** Don't dig your caramel salty? Use a level 1/4 tsp of salt.

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 300.
  2. Spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray or line it with parchment. Have a rubber spatula handy.
  3. Pop the popcorn and transfer it to a large bowl.
  4. Heat the butter, sugar, molasses, corn syrup, and salt in a medium sauce pan over medium-high heat, stirring frequently.
  5. Once the mixture comes to a boil, cook another 5 minutes.
  6. Remove from heat and add the whiskey (watch up for splatters) and vanilla.
  7. Stir and immediately pour over the popcorn.
  8. Use a rubber spatula to stir until the popcorn is nicely coated and then transfer to the baking sheet, spreading out to an even layer.
  9. Taste a couple of kernels - not "salted caramel" enough? Sprinkle with more salt.
  10. Bake for 35 minutes, stirring once halfway through.
  11. Let cool ~15 minutes before eating.
  12. Store leftovers in a ziptop bag on the counter... if you have leftovers.

Notes

Yields: 6 1-cup servings

Adapted from Real Simple

Estimated time: 50 minutes

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