Recipe:Rosemary Caramel Apple Pie
Every year, beginning in August, my CSA starts inundating me with apples. It’s November now, and they are still coming; apples of every shape color and kind. And, I’ve got an apple tree in my back yard, which drops its fruit long before fall officially arrives. So along with making apple sauce, apple jam, and apple crisp, I’ve been working on a new apple pie for Thanksgiving. A pie based on the idea that apples, salted caramel and rosemary have to lead somewhere good.
A quick web search will lead you to believe that Kraft invented the caramel apple in the 1950s. I don’t buy it. I’m not even buying Slashfood’s take it on it, that caramel apples originated in the late 1800s. Humans have been caramelizing sugar for thousands of years. Surely someone dunked an apple in the stuff, long, long ago. Just because they didn’t do market research doesn’t mean they didn’t recognize a good thing when they tasted it.
I spent my college summers selling and making caramel; at an amusement park, in the Pike Place Market, and on the Seattle waterfront. I knew the recipe for caramel by heart – though it took me a long time to learn to stir the copper kettle, and smile at the customers, without splashing caramel on my arms at the same time. The burns hurt, but in food service, unlike show business, the show really does always go on. You can get some aloe and ice later, but you can’t walk away from boiling sugar.
That caramel all ended up enrobing apples; Red Delicious and Granny Smith, with or without peanuts, and with or without chocolate on top of that. There must have been a tray labeling system that to help us keep track of what kind of apple lurked underneath all those layers. I don’t remember, but I still have a strong preference for tart apples and I still know the recipe. It’s at the heart of every caramel I’ve ever made – even though I don’t have a copper cauldron and I very seldom want the temperature to reach 232° F.
Ideally, it takes two days to make this Rosemary Caramel Apple Pie. Infuse the sugar with rosemary and make the crust on the first day, and caramelize the apples and bake the pie on the second. You can do it in one day, but it builds more stress into an activity that just doesn’t need it. After all, it’s just a pie; a big messy one that I think you’ll love. I know I do.