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by Wolfgang Puck
Christmas Apple Pie with Dried Fruits
It doesn't even matter whether or not you're cooking that big Christmas dinner at home. When guests invited to a holiday meal offer to "bring something," that something they have in mind is usually sweet. And while some may make a quick stop at a bakery to buy that treat, others take it as a matter of pride to make Christmas desserts themselves.
Fortunately, whether you'll be serving it at home or bringing it to family or friends, it is entirely possible to prepare a dessert that's not only quick and easy but also festive. The secret lies in adding to an already familiar recipe just a few elements that will transform it into something extra-special. My Christmas Apple Pie with Dried Fruits recipe is a delicious example of that idea.
In essence, this Christmas Apple Pie with Dried Fruits recipe is a basic apple pie. It starts with two circles of pie dough, for which you can use store-bought, already rolled out (and rolled up) refrigerated dough or, if time allows and you feel so inclined, your own favorite piecrust recipe. Then, there's the filling -- widely available Granny Smith or Pippin apples, which have that perfect combination of tartness and sweetness, crispness and juiciness -- sauteed with butter and sugar until they're slightly caramelized, spiced up with a bit of cinnamon and nutmeg, cooled, and then tucked inside the dough for baking.
That already sounds like a really good pie, doesn't it?
What transforms Christmas Apple Pie into a great pie for the holidays are some simple seasonal extras. Dried fruit and good brandy are classics of the Christmas table; so, I combine apricots, figs, prunes, Calvados, and Cognac with the apples to brighten the flavor, texture, and color. (You could use other brandies you like, instead, and try other dried fruit such as cranberries, cherries, or raisins.) A splash of heavy cream enriches and mellows the flavors even more.
To give this Christmas Apple Pie extra holiday sparkle, before it goes into the oven I brush it with lightly beaten egg white and then sprinkle it with sugar crystals that give it a gemlike sparkle and little bursts of crunchy sweetness. Look for these sequin-sized decorative pieces of sugar in the baking aisle of well-stocked markets, or in specialty food stores.
And there you have it: a special dessert for your holiday table that's, well, as easy as pie!
Christmas Apple Pie with Holiday Dried Fruits Recipe
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 50 minutes
Yield: Serves 8 to 10 - Makes one 10-inch pie
Christmas Apple Pie with Holiday Dried Fruits Recipe Ingredients
2 ready-to-use rounds refrigerated pie dough
5 pounds organic Pippin or Granny Smith apples (about 10 large apples)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon Calvados or applejack brandy
1 tablespoon Cognac
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/4 cup chopped pitted prunes
1/4 cup chopped dried apricots
1/4 cup chopped dried figs
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 large egg white, very lightly whisked
1-1/2 tablespoons crystallized sugar (for pastry and cake decorating)
Christmas Apple Pie with Holiday Dried Fruits Recipe Steps
Following package instructions, unroll one of the dough rounds and arrange it in a 10-by-2-inch pie plate. Tuck the overhang underneath itself even with the plate's raised rim to make a thicker edge. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes; if using a glass pie plate, remove from the refrigerator 15 minutes before filling.
Peel, core, and quarter the apples. Cut into 1/4-inch slices. In 2 or 3 large skillets over medium heat, melt the butter (2 or 3 tablespoons per skillet, depending on how many you use) and continue cooking just until it turns a light brown color and has a nutty aroma. Immediately divide the apples evenly among the skillets, stirring to coat them and spreading them in an even layer. Evenly sprinkle in the sugar. Raise the heat to medium high and saute the apples, stirring and turning often, until they are tender and lightly caramelized, 15 to 20 minutes. Sprinkle in 1 tablespoon of the Calvados and the tablespoon of Cognac and continue cooking until the fumes evaporate, 2 to 3 minutes longer. Drizzle and stir in the cream until fully incorporated. Empty the apples onto a large baking sheet, spread them out evenly, and leave to cool to room temperature.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. In a small saucepan over low heat, warm the remaining Calvados just until fragrant. Put the prunes, apricots, and figs in a small bowl, pour the Calvados over them, and leave to plump for about 15 minutes.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooled apples and the plumped dried fruit. Stir in the lemon juice, cinnamon, lemon and orange zests, and nutmeg and mix well. Spoon the filling into the prepared pie plate.
Carefully drape the other round of pie dough over the filling. With your fingertips or the tines of a table fork, neatly crimp together the edges of the top and bottom dough all around the rim. With the tip of a small, sharp knife, cut several evenly distributed slits in the top dough. Brush the dough with the egg white and sprinkle with crystallized sugar.
Bake the pie for 30 minutes. Then, reduce the heat to 350 degrees F. and continue baking until the crust is golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes longer.
Carefully transfer the pie to a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature, cut into wedges.
Apple Pie Recipe, Christmas Pie Recipe, Christmas
Wolfgang Puck's Christmas Apple Pie with Holiday Dried Fruits Recipe
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