Pear & Caramel Pie

I've found a new pie that just *might* be my new favorite.

pear-caramel-pie-11.jpg

For a long, long time, I have loved Lemon Meringue Pie. And in most recent years, this yuzu variation, which is essentially the same thing but with a different citrus. It's the dessert I would make almost every time I would visit Popo. I would crave that pucker-y custard filling and fluffy meringue topping. I'm not sure what I did the last time I made it, or maybe it really is best eaten the same day it comes out of the oven but I have found that I am not really fond of leftover Lemon Meringue Pie anymore. Maybe I am not blind baking the crust enough or maybe I should try brushing the bottom with egg white? Has anyone tried this? But for whatever reason, the fact that the crust gets soggy/syrup-soaked in Lemon Meringue Pie no longer appeals to me. I dread it and in general I really love leftovers and have loved leftover Lemon Meringue Pie in the past. So, I have found that I don't gravitate towards Lemon Meringue Pie as much as I used to unless I know I will be sharing it with enough people to eat it all on the same day. 

But, that doesn't mean I won't ever make it or won't ever eat it again or that it is no longer my favorite. Someone in my family has requested Lemon Meringue Pie for Thanksgiving which I am happily looking forward to making because there is no chance I will run into the soggy bottom dilemma and there will be plenty of people to eat it. Maybe then it will come back up in the ranks as one of my favorite pies once I eat it again.

pear-caramel-pie-8.jpg

This Pear & Caramel Pie is the pie I would make if I knew I wanted leftover pie. Not to say that it isn't best when it is fresh, because it is! It keeps well and makes an excellent breakfast or dessert the next day. Whether or not food keeps well as leftovers is often the motto of the food I make these days. Along with, "Does this use up X ingredient?".

I have always gravitated towards apples in pie but that seemed kind of boring to me this year. My friend Jenny has a Kieffer Pear Tree which produce some of the best baking pears. They are a firm pear and not too sweet, similar to an Asian Pear. When baked, they are still juicy, still hold their shape and pair so nicely with the caramel sauce. Oh, I am such a sucker for caramel anything.

pear-caramel-pie-2.jpg
pear-caramel-pie-7.jpg

I received Yossy Arefi's book, Sweeter off the Vine for my birthday and I knew I had to make this pie.  It's rare that I look through a cookbook and want to make everything in it. Immediately upon reading it, I was drawn to everything—the theme, the photography, the styling, the recipes, the colors and even the design. Since I made that Caramel Cake for my birthday, I still had a bunch of the sauce leftover just waiting to be put into something. So this pie was an obvious must.

I love pies (or any dessert really, that is sweet but not sugary). In this pie, the pears really shine, the crust is wonderfully flaky (I went with my old standard), and the caramel helps create a beautiful "self serving" sauce. No gloopy filling to be found here! 

I ate my slice with an additional drizzle of caramel sauce but whipped cream or vanilla ice cream would have also "peared" nicely with it. ;)

It's been a while since I've eaten a dessert and thought, "Man, this is the stuff!" but that is definitely what went through my mind when eating this pie. It just further solidified my belief in #teampie even after I had the best cake I've had in a long while only the week before. 

pear-caramel-pie-13.jpg
leftover-pie-1.jpg

And what do you do with leftover crust bits and extra filing? Make a leftover mini pie, like this one. 


Pear & Caramel Pie

Adapted from the Pear Pie with Crème Fraîche Caramel from Yossy Arefi's book, Sweeter off the Vine

Caramel Sauce from Style Sweet CA

Ingredients

Crust

Caramel Sauce

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1½ cups heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon flaky sea salt

Pear Filling

  • 2½ pounds ripe but firm pears
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup all purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  • 4 teaspoons lemon juice

For Brushing

  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten for egg wash

Steps

Prepare double pie crust according to instructions. Allow dough to chill at least 2 hours.

To make the caramel sauce, in a large, dry skillet, heat the sugar over medium-high heat. Cook the sugar until it melts into a medium golden color.  Remove from the heat and carefully whisk in the butter, a tablespoon at a time. Whisk in the heavy cream. 

Return the skillet to medium heat and cook until thick, about 5 minutes.  Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla and salt.  Carefully pour into a heat-safe container and cool. Sauce will thicken as it cools. Reserve ½ cup for the pie filling.

As the sauce thickens, remove one half of chilled pie crust dough from the refrigerator. On a lightly floured surface, roll out into a roughly 12-inch circle about ⅛ to ¼-inch thick. Place into a 9-inch pie pan and store in the refrigerator while you prepare the rest of the pie.

To make lattice top, roll out the other piece of dough into a 12-inch circle about ⅛ to ¼-inch thick, and cut into 2-inch wide strips. Transfer the strips to a baking sheet and refrigerate while you prepare the filling.

Peel and core the pears and slice them into ¼-inch slices. Put them in a large bowl along with the sugar, flour, spices, and lemon juice and stir gently to combine.

Add half of the pears to the pie shell, drizzle the ½ cup caramel sauce over the top, then add the remaining pears. Lay out half of the prepared dough strips evenly spaced on top of the filling. Fold every other strip back, then place a dough strip in the center. Unfold the strips you folded back over the center strip. Take the parallel strips that are underneath the center strip and fold every other one back over the center strip. Lay down another strip next to the center strip, leaving a little space between. Unfold the parallel strips over the second strip. Repeat until all of the dough strips have been used.

Preheat oven to 425ºF. 

Trim off the excess lattice and fold the edges of the bottom crust up and over the lattice strips. Crimp the edges together. Slide the whole pie into the freezer until the crust is very firm, about 15 minutes, before baking. 

When ready to bake the pie, place it on a baking sheet to catch any drips. Beat the egg, then brush the top of the pie with egg wash.

Bake the pie until it is a deep golden brown and the juices are bubbling, 45 to 55 minutes. If the crust begins to burn before the filling bubbles, tent it with aluminum foil. Cool slightly before serving. Serve with an extra drizzle of caramel sauce.