Have you ever had a salted caramel bar?
I don’t mean a confection in which there’s salted caramel sauce, like a “salted caramel brownie” or “salted caramel (fill in the blank).” I mean something like a lemon bar except in place of the lemon curd you have an inch of very dense and firm and well, if you don’t have any cavities or fillings or crowns or other dental vulnerabilities, chewy, but if you do, you just have to swallow like an oyster, salted caramel. Well that’s what they make at Huckleberry, and even though the salted caramel bar recipe is not in the cookbook I have been cooking my way through (I’m at 23 recipes right now out of a hundred and something), it was published a few years ago in Food and Wine Magazine.
And ever since the 1st place KCRW Good Food Pie Contest prize for Best Savory and Best Overall Pie was wrested from my hopeful hands this year by a . . . . galette (which was, I have since the contest learned, a matter of dramatic controversy involving cursing and yelling among the judges as to whether or not a galette constituted a pie), I have been haunted by the most unfathomable pie concoction ideas in my dreams, daydreams and waking consciousness. Meatball pie? Grilled radicchio and melted cheese pie? Persimmon pie? No, I’ve got it . . . an apple (and cranberry) pie with a salted caramel bar bottom!
Yet how to achieve? The bottom crust would have to be par-baked so as to not disintegrate when the salted caramel is poured on top and then later, after chilling, baked with the apples in the oven. Also the apples would have to be somewhat cooked, how about roasted, before placing on top of the chilled salted caramel bottom so that I wouldn’t have to bake the top crust and apple filling too long thereby turning the caramel back up into a hot liquid mess. I had no idea if it would work but I was going to give it a shot.
My first shot yielded slightly undercooked apples and too goo-ey and not distinct enough bottom caramel layer. So I popped the pie back in the oven for 25 more minutes (for a total of an hour, not counting the par-baking of the bottom crust, which took 20 minutes), then chilled it overnight. Voila! Perfection. My husband said it was the best pie he’d ever eaten EVER. And he has eaten A LOT of good pie, I mean a lot. He sends me texts saying “I can’t wait to come home and have another piece of pie.” Ha! The only thing I wonder about is . . . taken together with the last “All Carrot Meal” post, could this crazy pie be a sign that it may be time for me to return to a desk job (as in, too much free time on my hands?). Let’s hope not!
Note how different the pie looks after sitting overnight in the fridge compared to the day it was baked:
If you make this pie, do let me know. It is a lot of work, but worth it.