Apples, apples everywhere

The whole bottom shelf of our refrigerator is currently full —of apples. I subscribe to the “apple a day” theory and have an apple for breakfast just about every day, so I’ve been stockpiling them while I can.

Like many of you, my apple of choice is the Honeycrisp, and I’ve yet to find one that I like better, although there are a few of the newer varieties that come close. My stash of Honeycrisps is earmarked solely for eating, but lately I’ve come across a couple of recipes that just might convince me to part with a few of these precious fruits.

This first one, provided by Pillsbury, was a first-place winner at the Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Crusts Pie Baking Championship at the 2009 Maryland State Fair.

Apple Cheesecake Pie

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with foil; place in oven.

Using 1 box refrigerated pie crusts, prepare as directed on box for two-crust pie using a 9-inch glass pie plate.

In a large bowl, beat two 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened, with ½ cup granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1 teaspoon almond extract with electric mixer on high speed until smooth. Beat in 2 eggs, scraping bowl continually. Pour into crust-lined plate.

In another large bowl, toss 8 cups apples, peeled and thinly sliced, with 1½ tablespoons lemon juice. Stir in 2 packed tablespoons brown sugar, 4 teaspoons cornstarch and 1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon. Spoon apple mixture over cream cheese mixture.

Unroll second crust on lightly floured work surface. With a 2- to 2½-inch apple-shaped cookie cutter, cut out apple shapes. Reroll scraps and cut out additional apple shapes. Using a spatula, gently arrange apple shapes on top of pie to cover most of filling. (Alternately, a traditional lattice top crust can be used.)

In small bowl, beat 1 egg white with 1 tablespoon water until well blended. Brush over apple shapes. In another small bowl, mix 1 teaspoon granulated sugar and ½ teaspoon cinnamon; sprinkle over apple shapes.

Place pie on foil-lined cookie sheet in oven. Cover pie with sheet of foil to prevent excessive browning. Bake 20 minutes; remove foil and bake 20 to 25 minutes longer, or until crust is golden brown. Cool in wire rack. Refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight. Serve cold. Store covered in refrigerator.

Caramel and apple are a delicious pairing, and looking back at this blog, I noticed that I’ve managed to share a number of caramel-apple desserts on this site. This pie, however, seems to be a new offering.

Caramel Apple Pie

Cut 1/3 cup butter into 1¼ cups all-purpose flour. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon milk over mixture and gently blend with a fork. Continue to gently moisten the dough, 1 tablespoon at a time, using 3 tablespoons more milk, until all the dough is moistened. Shape into a ball.

On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a 12-inch circle. Ease pastry into a 9-inch pie plate, trim edges, fold under and crimp. Don’t prick pastry.

In a large bowl, mix 1 cup sugar, ¼ cup flour and 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon. Add 6 cups apples, peeled and coarsely chopped; toss to coat. Transfer to the pastry-lined pie plate. Combine 2 tablespoons caramel apple dip and 2 tablespoons milk; drizzle over apples.

In a mixing bowl, combine 1 cup flour and ½ cup packed brown sugar. Cut in ½ cup butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over filling. Cover edge of pie with foil to prevent overbrowning. Place on baking sheet.

Bake in 350-degree oven for 30 minutes; remove foil and bake for 25 to 30 minutes more, until golden. Cool 10 minutes. Drizzle about 1/3 cup more of caramel dip over top. Cool pie on wire rack.

This week marks the 24th year since I started here at the Daily Globe. While, like every job, it’s had its ups and downs, the people I’ve met along the way have made it all worthwhile. Thank you for your encouragement, comments, story suggestions and contributions.

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