Editor's note: There's no such thing as too much pie at Thanksgiving, so this week on Sweets is Pie Week—a different recipe every day.
I'm in love with fall for about two weeks each year; the window of time when it becomes just chilly enough to wear a sweater but the sun still remains up for a reasonable amount of time. It's also the time I start getting excited about using my favorite fall flavors again. Next to Brussels sprouts and bacon sauteed in maple and Sriracha, this pie never fails to bring me back to those couple golden weeks; it's tailor made to suit my tastes, and a slice that I never want to finish.
I make this pie but once a year, to pay homage to the best pie apple of all time, the Northern Spy. Set aside the fact that the Spys are fantastic pie apples for holding their shape and lending superior texture, they also have a unique and complex flavor, a cider-y blend of sweet and tart that plays especially well with the buttery bitterness of the caramel.
Making a caramel apple pie is not all that different from making its traditional cousin, save for the additional step of making and cooling the caramel. If you are unfamiliar with this part of the process, be sure to check out this week's Sweet Technique column on the subject, and note that since the goal is for the caramel to remain in liquid state, there is no need to cook beyond the addition of cream.
Since this pie is an annual treat, I often bring loved ones together at the dinner table to bask in its deliciousness. On occasion, that time has been Thanksgiving, if I'm able to wait that long. When the time comes to dive in, I enjoy watching everyone share a collective moment of reflection as they take first bites. It never fails to remind me of that perfect window of fall, but like all delicious things, nothing gold can stay.
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About the author: Lauren Weisenthal has logged many hours working in restaurant kitchens and bakeries of Brooklyn and Manhattan. She is a graduate of the Artisan Bread Baking and Pastry Arts programs at the French Culinary Institute. You can follow her on Twitter at @evillagekitchen.