Tag Archives: apple pie

Caramel Apple Cake Pops (gluten-free!)

Caramel Apple Cake Pops

This is my first recipe post joining Christianna and a delightful crew of bloggers for the Burwell General Store Recipe Swap!  The premise is that bakers/bloggers take a recipe that Christianna passes along and, changing at least three things about the recipe, adapts to their whim and fancy.  Fun, right?!?!  I’ve enjoyed many happy moments paging between the incredible foodies and they’re takes on an old, homey recipe.  It’s just inspiring to see how imaginative people who truly love food can be.  Please check them out at Burwell General Store!

This month’s recipe: Ozarkian Taffy Apples

The caramel apples I remember from my youth were sticky and delightfully, sickeningly sweet; a rare treat reserved for fairs and trips up north to quiet New England towns during the hot summer.

But now I’m an adult.  Living with gluten and dairy allergies, hypoglycemia and a waistline that has started getting smushy since this Dusty Baker thing entered my life!  For the sake of my digestive health, the way my body feels and how I feel in it, I needed to develop a recipe I can feel confident in.  And I did!

Caramel Apple Cake pops!! I’ve seen these floating around the internet food world and, of course, at Starbucks.  They look like a nap to me (as in, if I ever ate one I’d probably clean every apartment in my building, write a novel and then crash for two weeks in exhaustion).  But they’re adorable.  So, I made a healthier cousin to the caramel apple that retains the yummy-tastiness and the visual appeal.  Gluten-free, dairy-free, white-sugar-free, and delicious.

I used my gluten-free cake flour blend because (a) it’s blended already! and (b) it has a lot of starch so will hold together well and support a good amount of moisture.  If you don’t have the time or know-how to blend your own flours, use an already mixed blend like Bob’s Red Mill or King Arthur and simply add 1/2 tsp xanthan gum per cup of flour you use.

To cut down on the fat of basic apple bread/cake recipes, I used apple sauce instead of oil which provided moisture and upped the apple taste.  And to get rid of the white sugar completely, I used pure maple syrup in the cake and sucanat in the caramel.

Speaking of which: next big problem –  candy coating!!  I’m not good with candy.  I mess up “easy” peanut brittle.  My carob coffee and carob coriander candies definitely are yummy, but they don’t involve thermometers or “soft ball” stages.  And I had vowed against white sugar.   So slowly-caramelized sucanat was the best this Dusty Baker could come up with (made while I clicked my cowboy boots on my crumbling linoleum floors and danced to Michael Franti, Dusty style).

Apple Cake Bread

Honest results? My roommate and I loved the cake.  So much so that, while we enjoyed the pop of the caramel candy crunch, it was the cake that took such precedence that we agreed we just wanted to eat MORE CAKE!  It is incredibly moist, and the sweetness seems rich yet light and not overpowering.  If you choose to make the cake on it’s own, I recommend adding a drizzle of maple syrup on top of the cake while uncooked in the pan, and then swirling it with a fork.  This will give the top a great color and caramelization.

But if you want to continue on in making an adorable, caramel-apple miniature with a sweet crunch, continue with rolling this incredibly mushy bread into a ball and drizzling with sucanat caramel coating.

Oh, and according to the nifty nutrition converter at CookEatShare, these only have 57 calories a pop!! Take that, Starbucks, with your 300 calorie woppers!  Thank DOG I didn’t know that when they were sitting in my kitchen!

Caramel Apple Cake Pops

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups chopped apples (I used one Granny Smith and one Braeburn, which came out to a little more than two cups once they had been peeled, cored and chopped)
  • 2 1/2 cups gluten-free cake flour
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seed meal
  • 1/4 cup finely ground almond flour
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup apple sauce
  • 3/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 cup sucanat
  • 4 Tbsp boiling water
  • 1/2 cup finely ground walnuts (optional)
  • 18 candy sticks
  • A foam block or other way to keep the pops upright while cooling

Directions: Cake

  • Preheat the oven to 350°
  • In a large bowl, whisk together your flour, flax, almond flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  • In a small bowl, whisk the eggs thoroughly until creamy.  Add the apple sauce and maple syrup and whisk to blend thoroughly.
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix with a fork or spatula to combine.
  • Fold in the apples.
  • Bake in a lightly greased loaf pan for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  • Cool for 5 minutes in pan, then turn onto wire rack and cool until just slightly warm.

Directions: Assemblage*

  • In a small saucepan over medium/low heat, combine water and sucanat.  Slowly let this melt and combine until it forms a dark syrup.  It should trickle when you pull it from a fork, but in small clumps rather than a stream. This took me about 15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, cut the cake into chunks in a large bowl and smush with your hands until broken.  Roll into 1 1/2 inch balls and place on a plate.
  • When the caramel is smooth, poke a candy stick into the center of a ball to make an indentation.  Then remove the stick and dip in the caramel, and reinsert.
  • Drizzle the cake pop with caramel and press into nuts, if desired.
  • Repeat until all the pops are assembled, or until you’ve eaten all the mushed up cake in the bowl and then blamed its absence on your roommate’s cat.  Wait, what?

*I’m glad assemblage is a real word

Apple Cake Pops

Check Out the Other Creations From The Recipe Swappers!

  • Lindsay puts amazing honesty and simplicity written into her recipes. She loves Oregon, its ingredients and Portland’s lifestyle, and it shows.
  • Chef Dennis is veteran chef in his own right.  The rest of his fantastic food blog can be seen at morethanamountfull.
  • Mari lives in Oregon wine country and is a budding wine connoisseur.  Visit her at The Unexpected Harvest.
  • Boulder Locavore’s  starting point for the recipe swap is always a local-seasonal-organic combination, though her love of international cuisine and cocktails often work their way into the mix!
  • Joy, holding down a dairy-intolerant household, doesn’t let that restrict her love of flavors and food, in fact, it inspires her to do what she does. When you visit her blog, be sure to check out her “ubiquitous about page” and the balcony gardening category.
  • Monique has been food blogging since 2007, and her first recipe was a BLT-inspired chicken pot pie!
  • Shari is our first International participant!  Writing from down under, we cherish her voice in the swap because she brings the results of additional recipe challenges; the seasons are flipped from where most of us are blogging.
  • Jennifer‘s tag line says it all: Life is too short to eat bad food.  At her blog, Adventuresome Kitchen, you will find a passionate food-type, feeding her family amazing meals and living to blog about it.
  • The Cake Duchess.  The name says it all, and Lora’s recipes are rock solid, creative, decadent, inspiring.
  • Pola is a new blogger from Italy, transplanted to the cold Midwestern plains. After years of calling mom to check on cooking times and temperatures of family Italian recipes, she started writing them down. In the process, she is hoping to help new friends discover how to cook simple and authentic Italian food.
  • Mary is a lifelong resident of the San Francisco Peninsula and was diagnosed with Celiac Disease in 2007. Her search for a gluten-free chocolate chip cookie that didn’t taste, look or feel gluten-free inspired her blog and she’s been happily baking ever since.
  • Jamie blogs at Random Acts of Food and has a love for food that only an Italian could! She enjoys cooking and baking in all cuisines for her family and friends.
  • Crissy and Lauren are two recent college graduates who are embracing their passion for all things culinary in the smallest yellow kitchen that ever was.  Their balanced diet of equal parts savory and sweet helps them add a little zest to what they do best!
  • Claire blogs with Texas pride from Dallas. She loves chicken fingers, Law and Order SVU and is left handed.
  • Nay blogs about food at Spicy Living from Portland, Oregon, and joined in on the Lemon Cake swap.  She incorporated lavender and lemon into cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.
  • Cindy, food lover, all-around awesome person and her knowledge about US restaurants is almost encyclopedic. Check out her quirky and fun blog.
  • Sabrina Modelle blogs at The Tomato Tart from the San Francisco bay area, and for her first swap (the Lemon Cake) she made a Brown Sugar Lemon Rosemary Cake with Rosemary Caramel.
  • Nicolle writes the joyful Rhythm of the Seasons from Boulder, Colorado and is looking forward to offering more recipes and menus as the spring, summer and harvest seasons heat up.
  • Linda is a saucy Texan with an encyclopedic knowledge of food. She’s published many cookbooks, won many awards, and has been the source of many belly laughs. When she’s not writing books, her latest creations can be found at Everybody Eats News.
  • Tricia is the founder of Pietopia, an annual pie contest that asks “What does your life taste like, in a pie?” and her beautiful work as an eating designer and blogger can be found at Eating Is Art.

Bourbon Molasses Apple Pie (with candied bacon)

Bourbon Molasses Apple Pie with candied bacon

The problem with living in the best city in the world is that you can plan a refined night for you and your significant other of theatre and a late supper at a French restaurant, and then end up going to the theatre, then a rock club, then a blues club, then an Eastern European dive bar until the wee hours of morning, all the while proclaiming “we live in the best city in the world!”

Naturally, sleeping in the following morning was required.  And then the long subway ride home had me maneuvering construction-ed lines, packed by panicked tourists who ripped the bag of groceries I had been schlepping for far too many transfers.

But at least I was going home to PIE.  Apple pie, with molasses and bourbon and a bit of candied bacon on top.  As I was groggily hitting the elevator button, the boyfriend remarked that I had yet to bake him a pie.  As fellow dusty bakers can understand, this was less of a histrionically domestic complaint and more a phrase of endearment that had me humming on my way to the grocery.   My day had taken a turn to the apple world.  It’s a sweet world.

This is the third version of this recipe, lovingly entitled “Punch Yo Mama Kentucky Apple Pie”.  From my time on the border of Kentucky, I learned that those people do well with delicious food and honor their bourbon.

In the last two test versions the molasses flavor held its own but there was virtually no bourbon flavor.  So instead of heating the bourbon and molasses to make a glaze (which I found killed the taste of the alcohol) I blended them at room temperature with a little tapioca starch to thicken the mixture.  I also included bourbon into the pie crust, finding that the flavor works well baked in flours.  Previously I candied thick-cut bacon with a molasses / brown sugar mixture and baked it into the pie – this time candied thinner bacon and sprinkled it on when serving to retain its crunch.

The result?  The bourbon flavor came though just enough that you’d notice but not be overwhelmed by it.  I had added no sugar to the apples, and they came out sweet and caramely, and the cinnamon gave them a bit of punch.  The crust was a bit too crumbly on day one, but definitely didn’t distract, and was soft and manageable on day two.  (For a flawless crust try my Perfect Gluten-Free Pie Crust) By far the apple/molasses/bourbon combination was killer!  And the bacon was so crunchy and sweet that the crusts don’t even need sugar.

Notes: You can use regular white flour in the crust, or experiment with gluten-free flour blends you like using. This crust was a bit crumbly – I’d stick to my easy gluten-free crust or Perfect Gluten-Free Pie Crust, including the bourbon instead of water as suggested below.  If going gluten-free, just make sure you have enough starch and xantham gum to pull the flour together.  You can also use butter-flavored Earth Balance and omit the egg to make this dairy-free and vegan.  I’m experimenting with sugars lately, and used just a tiny bit in this, but it really doesn’t matter what kind of sweetener you use.  Yes, the flavor will vary slightly, but that’s one of the beautiful things about pies: make a crust and fill it with fruit and chances are you’re going to be happy.

Ingredients:

For the filling:

  • 14 small apples, preferably of three varieties
  • 2 Tbsp. bourbon
  • 3 Tbsp. molasses
  • 2 tsp. starch (I used tapioca)
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon (preferably two different, pungent varieties – I used Indonesian and Chinese)
  • Freshly grated nutmeg, about 1/2 tsp.

For the crust:

  • 1 cup white rice flour
  • 1/2 cup amaranth flour
  • 1/2 cup sweet white sorghum flour
  • 1/2 cup tapioca starch
  • 1 1/2 tsp. xantham gum
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. sweetener – I used sucanat, crushed cane sugar, because I accidentally picked it up instead of fructose, which I was going to try using.  I’m still working on which sweetener I like best for health / baking reasons.
  • 16 Tbsp. butter, cut into cubes
  • 2 Tbsp. bourbon
  • 4 Tbsp. ice cold water
  • 1 egg, beaten, for brushing on the top of the pie.  You can also use egg white, melted butter or water.

For the Bacon:

  • 5 slices of thin bacon
  • Your choice of sugar – brown sugar or sucanat will flavor best

Directions:

Prepare the Filling:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Peel, core and slice apples, and let them sit in a strainer.
  3. In a small bowl, mix molasses, bourbon and starch.  Blend with a fork.
  4. Separate the apples onto two cookie sheets with high rims.  Pour 1/2 of the molasses mixture on each sheet, and mix thoroughly with your hands until the apples are coated.
  5. Sprinkle with each tray with 1/2 of the cinnamon and nutmeg
  6. Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes or until just soft while you prep the crust.

For the crust: I use a standing mixer with the paddle attachment.

  1. Place flours, starch, xantham gum, salt and sugar in the bowl and whisk together.
  2. Toss in butter and start to mix on low speed until the butter is cut in, about 3-5 minutes.
  3. Add the bourbon one tablespoon at a time, and then the water, using only just enough for the dough to pull together.
  4. On a floured pastry board, roll half of the pastry into a disk to fit your pie plate.  I make sure to thoroughly turn and flip my dough so that it doesn’t stick, as gluten free dough can break easily.
  5. Fill the plate with apples, tapping down slightly.
  6. Roll out the top crust, close pie, seal the edges with a fork.
  7. Mix a teaspoon of water with a slightly beaten egg, brush the top of the pie, and sprinkle with sugar if desired (After sampling, the pie was sweet enough without the sugar and would have been prettier if I had omitted it).
  8. Bake for 45 minutes, covering the edges of the pie halfway through to prevent browning, or until top of pie is slightly browned and apples cooked through.

To candy the Bacon:

  1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Fit roasting rack into a cookie sheet and spray with non-stick cooking spray.
  3. Place sugar of choice in a small bowl, and thoroughly coat bacon with sugar.
  4. Place on cooking rack and sprinkle more sugar on top of each slice.
  5. Cook for five minutes and, if desired, turn bacon and sprinkle with more sugar.
  6. Cook for five more minutes, remove from oven and remove bacon to a plate to cool completely before chopping into small bits.
  7. Sprinkle on top slices of pie for serving.

Punch Yo Mama Kentucky Apple Pie – Take One

“Bourbon Bacon Molasses Apple Pie”.

Until today, nothing would come up in a search engine with those five beautiful words strung together.

Now, this is not a healthy pie.  Nor a medicinal pie, except in that it may have magical qualities when trying to lure lovers or tame unruly children.  It blends those delirious tongue-teasers of savory and sweet, the unsuspected crunch of candied bacon embedded in folds of apples both sweet and tart.  A blend of spicy and soothing cinnamon and a dash of fresh nutmeg fuse them together and they sleep contented in a flaky, free-0f-the-demon-gluten crust.  This pie is work, but so worth it.

In making this recipe I combined techniques I’d learned from other kitchen explorations – par-baking apples, candying bacon, blending healthy flours for a gluten-free crust – and am very pleased with the first incarnation.  But this recipe still has further to go; it’s delicious on day one but the bacon sags into an unappetizing texture if you keep eating it on successive days (but if it’s more than you and a roommate trying to wipe it out of existence and you can eat it in one go, bake on).  The bourbon gives a delightfully oak-y slight to the senses, but hasn’t packed a wallop yet.

If you’re looking for a comforting, complex apple pie recipe with a twist, check this recipe out.  It’s fuller-bodied than your traditional American pie, and the flavors round themselves out very well.

This recipe requires three steps: 1. Candying bacon. 2. Preparing your apples. 3. Preparing and filling crust.  Refer to my BAKING BASICS posts for recipes on both filling and a variety of pie crusts.

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons GOOD Kentucky bourbon (I used Blantons, one of my favorites)
  • 3 tablespoons organic blackstrap molasses
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar plus more as desired
  • six strips very thin bacon (from a butcher)
  • About 18 apples, prepared (CLICK HERE for page on apple pie filling)
  • Unbaked pie crust, enough for bottom and top.

Directions: Bourbon Blackstrap Bacon

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Lay a baking rack over a cookie sheet with high rims and spray the rack with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Heat small saucepan over medium/low heat.  Once hot, pour in 2 tablespoons bourbon and heat until it just gets bubbly.
  • Add 2 tablespoons molasses and stir with spatula until the mixture starts to bubble and expand.
  • Add 1/2 cup light brown sugar, mixing in, and bring to heat until the mixture expands again.
  • Turn off heat and let cool slightly.
  • Prepare to get sticky: using your hands, rub each piece of bacon in the bourbon mixture until coated.  By the 3rd or 4th piece the sugar mixture will be cooling and drying out a bit – don’t worry! Just drudge it as much as you can to coat the bacon.
  • Coat entirely with extra brown sugar until completely covered.
  • Lay on sprayed rack and bake in preheated oven for approximately 30 minutes, or until bacon is crispy.  Set aside and cool completely.

Directions: Apple Filling. On EACH tray sprinkle:

  • For this recipe, I used 2 kinds of cinnamon, 1 very spicy and one mild and sweet. I love cinnamon, so I used 2 tsps. of each.  Vary this to your tastes.
  • Sprinkle on each trap 1/4 tsp of ground cloves and 1 tablespoon sugar, preferably something light like palm sugar over regular white sugar.
  • Toss the apples thoroughly.
  • Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes or until the apples are slightly softened.
  • Remove from heat and let cool.

Directions:  Let’s Fill This Thing

  • Use a deep-dish 9″ pie plate (my favorite pie dish is my Emile Henry 9″. It’s wonderfully deep and the ceramic bakes to perfection) and fill it with your bottom crust.
  • Layer the apples in and pack them tightly – the apple should be piled into a very hefty dome.
  • In a small dish, combine remaining tablespoon bourbon and molasses, and drizzle completely over the top of the apples.
  • Place second crust on top, and pinch to close.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 45 minutes, covering the edges halfway through baking so they don’t burn.

This pie is best eaten the same day it’s made, but should be cooled completely before cutting if using a gluten-free crust (they crumble very easily).

Fall Apple Pie

Molasses Apple Pie

October conjures up images of pumpkins, falling leaves and little children running around in costumes.   It’s also the time for the inevitable transition from salads to soups, the pulling of comforters from storage, and for grabbing the hiking boots and tromping through orchards.  And when one can’t get away from the urban jungle to feel the sensation of grabbing a perfectly ripe apple off a tree, you can thank the rising trend of artesinal apples for the variety that can be found at local farmer’s markets and specialty food stores.

I have no magical combination that I use in my apple pies.  Over the years I’ve explored the most local kinds for wherever I happen to be, and generally follow a combination of a 3-apple blend of sweet, tart and complex.  Granny Smith and Golden Delicious are staples, depending on how delicious the particular bunch is.  I also am a huge fan of Macoun, Northern Spy, Braeburn and Mutsu.  I’m even a bigger fan of dozens of varieties I can’t recall, because they just tasted so good when I took that first bite.

The best pies start with a little voodoo: enjoy the magic that is touching, smelling, tasting, and conjuring up ideas of how a combination will taste when baked into a crumbly crust.

I par-bake the apples together while making the crust.  This helps the spices infuse more thoroughly and then you don’t have to bake the crust so long, so it can be flakier and softer than ever.

This crust recipe utilizes a unique blend of gluten-free flours – sweet rice, amaranth, quinoa and flaxseed.  I tried these together for both health and flavor reasons, and was more pleased with this result than any other combination I’ve recently tried.  The rice provides structure, the quinoa both protein and optimum digestibility, the amaranth sweetness and a slightly different texture, and the flax provide a nutty flavor and fiber.

I swirl a tablespoon of blackstrap molasses over the par-baked apples to provide even more depth and complexity – an experiment of old that sent me over the full moon!

Ingredients – Crust :

  • 3/4 cup brown rice flour
  • 3/4 cup quinoa flour
  • 1/4 cup amaranth flour
  • 1/4 cup ground flaxseeds
  • 1/3 cup tapioca starch
  • 2 tsps xantham gum
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tablespoons date or palm sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 sticks unsalted organic butter, cubed small

Ingredients – Apples:

  • A blend of 3 apples, 4-5 each depending on size, peeled, cored and sliced
  • 2 tablespoons palm sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Saigon cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg (preferably freshly ground)
  • 1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 farenheit
  2. Spread apples on 2 baking sheets, and sprinkle evenly with palm sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg.
  3. Bake apples for about 10 minutes in preheated oven, until just soft.  Remove to cool slightly.
  4. While apples are cooking, prepare the crust.  In a standing mixer with the paddle attachment place all crust ingredients, and use a fork or whisk to blend.
  5. Toss in butter.  Start mixing on low, then medium/low, until the crust just pulls together.  If too dry add ice-cold water, a tablespoon at a time and waiting until incorporated to continue adding.  Try not to overmix – make sure the butter is incorporated but don’t go beyond that.
  6. Roll or press half of the crust into a deep-dish pie plate.  Fill with all the apples, layering high.
  7. Drizzle entire tablespoon of blackstrap molasses on top.
  8. Roll out top crust, cover the apples, seal the edges and slice a few vents in the top.  If desired, use a pastry brush to brush with water or melted butter, and sprinkle with palm sugar.
  9. Bake for approximately 30-40 minutes, being sure to cover the edges of the pie halfway through so they don’t brown.
  10. Cool before serving.

Notes: Gluten-free crusts can be hard to roll.  I suggest rolling on a floured piece of parchment or wax paper, flipping the dough after a few rolls, and then using the paper to flip into the plate. Luckily they’re sturdier than traditional crusts, so you can easily refrigerate and roll again.

The crust will crumble initially when cutting.  Refrigerating the pie, slicing and reheating works out best.  No matter how you slice it, it’s a delicious recipe.  The crust is both nutty and sweet, and the flavor of the apples both complex and comfortable.

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