Boozy Brown Butter Apple Pie

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There are many wonderful pie recipes out there but, for me, nothing pairs up better with apples than brown butter. The dark, earthy, aromatic flavors perfectly compliment the sweet vibrancy of good apples at their ripest, and I’ve added a little bourbon to tie them together. If you have your own crust recipe that you prefer, please use it! The butter vs. shortening battle is one that will never be won. In making this pie be sure to use good, fragrant apples (I prefer Granny Smith and Pink Lady).  Like anything, it’s what’s on the inside that counts.

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Crust:

3 C. Unbleached All Purpose Flour
1 t. Salt
1 T. Sugar
1 Cup Vegetable Shortening
½ Cup Ice Water (more or less as needed)
1 t. Vanilla extract

1. In a large bowl combine flour, salt, and sugar.
2. Using a pastry blender cut shortening into flour mixture. Work with hands until dough is shaggy.
3. Sprinkle in the water and the vanilla and toss with a fork until just combined. Work with hands until dough is homogeneous.
4. Separate the dough into two equal parts. One will be used to line the pie plate, and the other for the top.
5. This dough can be used immediately, or can be wrapped in wax paper and refrigerated until you are ready to make your pie. If storing for later be sure to let it come back up to room temperature before rolling.

Filling:

½ Cup Unsalted Butter
3 T. Flour
¼ Cup Water
½ C. Sugar
¾ C. Brown Sugar, Packed
2 oz. Good Bourbon
½ Split Vanilla Bean, or 1 Tsp. Pure Vanilla Extract
6-8 Apples of your choice peeled, cored, and sliced thin.
1 ½ T. Tapioca Pearls

1. In a heavy pot begin to melt butter on low heat until it is completely liquefied, then increase heat to med-high. Here you must watch carefully as the water begins to cook off and your butter begins to darken. This will happen fast!
2. Continue to stir making sure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pot. You’ll begin to notice that the solid fats in the butter turn dark brown. When butter begins to give off a nutty, fragrant smell and you’ve achieved a deep yellow/golden color remove pot from heat temporarily to suspend browning.
3. Once removed from heat mix in 4 T. of flour. Return pot to burner and continue to stir until a paste is formed.
4. At this point you can add your sugar, your brown sugar, and vanilla, bourbon, then water. Stir to combine and boil until it begins to thicken.
5. Add the apples and stir.
6. Here’s where the magic begins!  One of the best reasons to precook the apples like this is it really pulls out the flavor.  You’ll begin to notice the apples breaking down, and the caramel will thin out. The flavors begin to combine and it smells wonderful.
7. The cook time here will vary. If you are using Granny Smith apples you will need to cook them a bit longer. The flavor is the best, but they sure are starchy! When the apples are tender (smaller pieces will begin to fall apart) remove the pot from heat and stir in 1.5 T. of tapioca pearls (these will hold your pie together).
8. Allow to cool as you prepare your crust.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Construction:

1. Pour apples into your prepared pie shell and smooth/compress with a wooden spoon to achieve a nice dome shape.
2. Dress pie with a lattice top like I did,  or roll out remaining crust into a circle large enough to cover your pie.  Invert crust on top of pie and, after cutting off any excess dough with a sharp knife crimp edges with a fork. To form a vent cut two slits in center of pie to form an X.
3. Brush the top of your pie with milk and sprinkle with sugar. This achieves a really nice color and texture when baked.

Baking:

1. To catch any potential juices, place pie on a cookie sheet  and position on the center rack of your preheated oven.
2. Bake for 35-45 minutes. As the apples are mostly precooked your main goal is to a achieve a nice golden brown crust.

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Enjoy!

Recipe by Faron Vassen, Instagram: milkandstone 

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