Friday, December 30, 2011

I Didn't Eat One Pineapple at the Pineapple Room

Warm Chocolate Bread Pudding with lots of fun extras
And that's a good thing.  Being from Hawaii, you'd think I love pineapple.  But I don't.  In college, my friends would order the "Hawaiian Pizza," thrilled that I'd be able to experience a taste from home.  Here's the thing: I hate pineapple on pizza.  And "Canadian Bacon" (which is just a fancy way of saying "ham", by the way), is kinda ewww.  So pineapple plus fake bacon?  Double ewww.

But I'm a fan of Alan Wong's and I've never been to his highly-rated Pineapple Room, so my family and I visited one night.  And I'm so glad we did, because we all agreed: this was one of the best meals we've ever had on Oahu.

The Pineapple Room is a casual yet beautiful restaurant located in Ala Moana, one of the largest outdoor malls in the world, and my favorite shopping mall on the island.  Simple yet cozy, the focus is the quality of the food--a wonderful mix of Asian cuisine with a Hawaiian twist. 
Chinese Style Pan Steamed Onaga, so pretty and so tasty

The real food was all delicious (the Onaga was perfectly steamed and bursting with flavor), but of course I was giddy about the desserts!  All of the choices looked incredible, and I wanted them all.  But that would just be silly.  So so silly.  (Note: I will be back. Oh yes, I will be back).

The vanilla ice cream slowly melting into a pool of creamy goodness
We were set on ordering 2, and then our lovely and very charming waitress twisted my arm and convinced me to go with 3 (what she said: "I also recommend the Japanese strawberry cheesecake...".  Me, interrupting: "OK!").  The Warm Chocolate Bread Pudding with Peanut Butter Vanilla Anglaise, Vanilla Ice Cream and Carmelized Bananas were an obvious choice (Note: it contains peanut butter.  Enough said).  This decadent treat was a tasty combination of moist, light chocolate cake, doused in a creamy vanilla ice cream, topped with a light peanut butter glaze (I would have been happy with a bowl of that peanut butter sauce by itself), and topped with delicately carmelized bananas.  Such a wonderful mix of flavors, textures, and temperatures!

Then there was the Japanese-style strawberry cheesecake.  This delicate masterpiece was light and fluffy with a crunchy cookie-like crust, and topped with fresh strawberries.  A sweet strawberry salsa complemented this lovely little dish.
A yummy and healthy (remember, strawberries are a fruit) dessert.
The most fun dessert, and my favorite of the 3, was the Haupia Tapioca Halo Halo.  The fact that this dessert was on the menu was completely unexpected.  Since I'm a giant sucker for anything a bit different from the norm, I was intrigued.  Halo Halo is a Filipino dessert that usually involves shave ice, evaporated milk, and fruits or beans.  Alan Wong took this traditional dessert to a new level by making it gourmet, Hawaiian-style.

Halo Halo!
The Halo Halo begins with a base of coconut shave ice, haupia tapioca, and mango kanten.  Icy, creamy, and jelly-ish, it's an explosion of yummy differences. Sweet corn and azuki beans are infused throughout.  And sprinkled on top, a fruity mix of bananas, melon, strawberries and pineapple (I skipped the pineapple).  So many different flavors blended together for a refreshing, fruity treat.

And to top off this perfect meal?  A bit of shopping, of course! 

The Pineapple Room by Alan Wong
1450 Ala Moana Blvd
Honolulu, HI 96814

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Hawaiian Style Blueberry Macadamia Nut Pancakes with Secret Sauce

Pondering life on Gorgeous Lanikai Beach
I've visited some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, but my favorite will always be a little hidden gem on my home island of Oahu.  One of the reasons I love it is because it's a secret beach.  (My apologies to the locals who might be a tad nervous about me sharing this information, but it's so beautiful it should be shared.  Plus, I just saw it listed in "1000 Places to Visit Before You Die" so, sorry everyone, cat's out of the bag).  

If you continue past Kailua Beach, you will enter a very small residential area called...Lanikai.  Ahhhhhh. The name alone brings a  smile to my face.  

So anytime I'm on Oahu, of course I make time for relaxing and catching up on reading at Lanikai ("The Happiness Project" by Gretchen Rubin is my book of choice at the moment.  I also have 6 half-read books sitting on my nightstand but that's another story).  And to make the experience even more spectacular, on my way, I always stop at the Boots and Kimo's in Kailua, another hidden gem that can also be a tad difficult to find.  Not only do they have the best Macadamia Nut Pancakes on the island, Boots and Kimo's could be the coolest name for a restaurant ever.

I just love to say Boots and Kimo's
Boots and Kimo's is the hands-down winner of the best pancakes on the island.  (They seriously win Honolulu's Best Pancake Awards annually; surprisingly, I'm not just making this up).  So while the menu is extensive, it's not too difficult to figure out that my order will somehow involve pancakes.  And since they're famous for their Macadamia Nut Pancakes, at least one order of these always find their way to our table.  
Blueberry Macadamia Nut Pancakes with Secret Sauce

Now I bet you're thinking, "Uh thanks lady, pancakes with macadamia nuts, whoopee", but let me tell you, these aren't just any old pancakes.  Oh no.  These pancakes are special.  Why?  Because they contain a Secret Ingredient.

The pancakes themselves are lovely--light, fluffy, buttery--everything a pancake should be.  But it's the sauce that sets it apart.  It's just a rumor, but supposedly, the sauce is made of melted macadamia nut ice cream.  Wow.  Just let the weight of that statement sink in for a minute.  A triple stack of wonderful pancakes dripping in creamy, frothy, melted macadamia nut ice cream is pure yumminess.

And adding to the deliciousness, blueberries!  Yay for Today's Special!
For your clarification, my helpful mom conveniently
points to the pancakes.

Here's the thing, I don't even care if the rumor is true.  These pancakes are so delicious, the 30 minute plus wait time is absolutely worth it (they don't accept reservations so cross your fingers that it's not a crazy busy day).
The crew ready to chow in the super fun 
football-themed restaurant

On a side note, a few years ago, we ran into a few secret service men--easily spotted by their earpieces-- hanging around the restaurant, trying to blend in (a note: bright red shirts covered in giant hibiscuses and cursive ALOHA's might make you stand out a bit).  President Obama tends to stay in this area when he vacations in Hawaii, so we jumped to the conclusion that he must have placed an order.   I have no idea this is true, but don't you just love the idea of the Leader of the Free World taking a call with the Kremlin, while munching on Boots and Kimo's Macadamia Nut Pancakes?

Boots and Kimo's
151 Hekili St
Kailua, HI 96734
(808) 263-7929

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Matsumoto's: Shave Ice with a Surprise

My sister Aulani and I getting really excited!
It's a given.  If you visit the North Shore, you stop at Matsumoto's. 

I love stopping at Matsumoto's because that means two very important things have happened: I'm home! And we're driving to the North Shore!

Of course there are probably hundreds of shave ice places on Oahu, but Matsumoto's has always been my go-to stop since I was a little girl.  (By the way, say "shaved" and you'll get a slap on the head from a local.  You're welcome, Greg).

The drive to the North Shore is one of my favorite things to do when I'm back at home visiting family and friends.  It's not hard to see why.  The gist is, you drive around the beautiful island viewing some of the most gorgeous scenery in the world, occasionally stopping to eat some of the best food in the world.  Perhaps you can see why I like this idea.

Wonderful Waimea Bay

Lush Pali Lookout

And as much as I love New York, and all of the wonderful places I have had the privilege of visiting, for me, Hawaii has the best of everything, especially when it comes to food. 

The iconic sign that hangs above the little shave ice shack
Shave ice is such a lovely treat, especially after a hot day at the beach.  So after a stop at Waimea Bay, we pulled into a pretty packed Matsumoto's parking lot.  Normally we battle it out with vans and buses full of tourists, and a line snaking around the corner, but today was our lucky day: a parking spot under the trees, and a line of only 20 people!  Score!

One of the reasons I love this place is that even though it's incredibly successful, they've kept everything pretty much the same, just as I remember it years ago.   

So many flavors, so little time!
Despite the abundance of flavors, I tend to stick to a few favorites: coconut, guava and lychee.  Trust me, I've tried almost every flavor, and I officially declare these three as the best.  
Icy, sugary, bean-filled yumminess

The really cool thing about Matsumoto's is that in addition to the finely shaved ice, you can choose your own surprise!  At the bottom of your little cone, you can choose from ice cream, azuki beans or both.  I was feeling beany so I went with the lovely, slightly sweet azuki beans. 

Getting down to the good stuff

After slurping every last drop of sugary syrup, fishing out every last bean, and taking a bite of my mom's ice cream, we bid farewell to our favorite little shave ice stop. 

A hui ho, Matsumoto's.

Matsumoto Shave Ice
66-087 Kamehameha Hwy
Haleiwa, HI 96712

Thursday, December 22, 2011

I Think I Just Found The Best Cookies in NYC

Soft, gooey, nutty chocolate goodness.
It's true, my friends.  Never mind New York City.  I'm pretty sure I've just eaten the best cookies on earth.

Now I realize I've only lived here for a few months, but during this time, I've been highly dedicated to finding the very best desserts my new city has to offer.  And trust me, I've done a really good job so far.
This next wondrous discovery was recommended by quite a few people, especially when I mention I have a dessert blog.  This was a typical comment: "well obviously you've been to Levain." Disappointed head shaking would ensue when I muttered an uncomfortable "uh, no".  So when my friend Rebekah, a fellow Dessert Lover, came to visit, it was the perfect opportunity to finally enter the hallowed doors of the famous Levain Bakery.

Oh Cookie, I think I love you.
After dinner at 'Cesca, a lovely little neighborhood gem, we decided to walk off our Italian carb fest and headed to the nearby bakery, in an awesome attempt to continue the carb extravaganza. 

At first we walked right by it.  Besides the fact that I was born with zero sense of direction, this isn't hard to do.  Why?  It's tiny.  I mean, teeny weeny.  And it's below street level so it's even more difficult to find.  The only reason we even saw it is because of the crowd of people coming in and out of the tiny screen door (ok I'm making this place sound like the Keebler Elf Factory; the screen door was in fact regular-people sized).
(A side note: My directionlessness is legendary.  I even get lost in my hometown.  My sisters will happily tell you the now classic story of how I got lost in Waianae, which happens to be about 45 minutes from my house.  I think.  But I digress).

We found it! Hooray!

As we descended the little steps to the bakery counter, I got excited--and I wasn't the only one.  Everyone in the small space seemed to be sporting a giddy little grin, especially the ones stuffing their faces with some of the largest, most gorgeous cookies I've ever seen.
The beauty of Levain bakery is in its simplicity.  There are only 4 cookies!  Utterly brilliant!  I like to think they focus on making the 4 best cookies in the universe, and that's it. They do have other amazing baked goods too, but these Cookies are the Hero!

Of course we bought one of each, plus a buttermilk Oatmeal Raisin scone, all in the name of serious baking research.
Here they are, in all their delicious glory:
1. Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookie
2. Dark Chocolate Chip Cookie
3. Oatmeal Raisin Cookie
4. Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip

Welcome to Cookie Heaven

How to describe these sugary treasures?  My friend Paula tried once ("see, they're soft but also chewy and on top they're a bit hard...oh just try them")  Well, she was right.

They're extremely unique for two reasons:

1. They're HUMONGOUS.  Little Cookie Mountains.  You can gently cradle this softball-sized treat in the palm of your hand.
2. They're a crazy mix of TEXTURES.  Soft on the inside--almost underbaked which is my favorite way to eat them--yet slightly crumbly, and perfectly crisp on top.  Now you're probably thinking what the hell is she talking about, but here's where I'll quote Paula: oh just try them.

To explain my Love of Scones, I offer a mathematical theorem:
Scones are made of Butter.  Butter is Good. 
Therefore, Scones are Good.
I had a favorite, of course.  If you know me even a little bit, you'll know that I kinda enjoy the heavenly taste of God's gift to man, aka Peanut Butter.  The Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookie left me utterly breathless.  A perfect combination of not too sweet but richly flavored dark chocolate cookie dough mixed with a proportionate amount of mini Peanut Butter chips.  Bravo, Levain.

The next day, after a ridiculously necessary vigorous morning workout, Rebekah and I met one of her friends at Sarabeths (love love love Sarabeths!).  After introductions were made, Andrew hands me a rather heavy paper bag and says, "I hear you have a dessert blog, have you tried Levains?"  Well hello, new best friend.

By the way Bekah, all this counting was for you. :)

Levain Bakery
167 West 74th St New York, NY 10023

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Gourmet Football Food: Have They Gone Too Far? (Answer: No)

Cinnamon sugar popcorn with a super
secret ingredient: 3 scoops of melted butter
There's something about watching a sporting event live that gives any game (even golf) a whole new level of excitement.  Speaking of golf, on tv, it's like watching grass grow (sorry Dad).  In person, it's a bit more interesting (in fairness, I may be referring to a celebrity pro-am game where I basically stalked Drew Brees).  Hockey?  Channel surf time.  But in person?  I turn into a raging idiot who can't wait for the next fight ("Is that BLOOD? AWESOME!" This would be a direct quote from me at a recent Rangers game).

My favorite sport of all time is football.  I grew up watching it and learning about it from my dad and have become a passionate supporter of some of the worst teams in the universe (Buffs, thanks for sucking it up for about a decade.  Jets, you're not making me very happy this year either).  

Our fun picture with the Cheerleaders.  I mean Flight Girls.
My friend Sylvia, a fabulous fellow football fan,  recently flew from LA to meet me for a riveting Chiefs vs Jets game (aka "The S*%# Bowl") at the Metlife Meadowlands Stadium in beautiful, scenic Rutherford, NJ.  

I could have taken this little red-headed kid. 
One of the funnest things about football, besides the food--I'm getting to that--is the pre-game activities.  Sylvia and I showed up a bit early in anticipation of exploring all the fun things to do! 

First, pictures with Flight Girls--not to be confused with cheerleaders because that's just silly.  This is different because these girls wear Top Gun uniforms, carry pom-poms and cheer, but again people, learn from my mistake, they are NOT cheerleaders. 

Next, warm up drills on a little fake field!  Oh wait!  DENIED.  Apparently this was a contest for little kids only. Awww.  I was just a bit disappointed. 

So we moved on to the truly important task of finding which football foods we wanted to eat.  The MetLife Stadium offers a huge variety--even Gluten Free food stands, which I must say, I did not see one person approach the entire game.  

Look at these amazing options! Maple French
Toast Sugar Popcorn! At a stadium! 
I was most excited about The Food Network, which apparently has a little deal with the stadium, catering to "football foodies" who might want something more than a hot dog and a beer.

So in the spirit of supporting the Jets, my team since 2010 (long story and perhaps Mark Sanchez was a factor), I decided to try a few things, starting with The Food Network stand.  First on the list, Maple French Toast Sugar Popcorn!  Very warm and buttery, it was a nice little snack but very difficult to eat with gloves on (it was sooooo cooooooold). 

Jets green cotton candy, in a surprisingly fun flavor.
So I gave it to our nice neighbors, who then rewarded me with some of the stadium's signature green cotton candy.  Hmmmm.  Not my first dessert choice, but they enticed me with this: "You'll never guess what flavor it is".  Ok nice neighbors, I'll bite.  Sylvia guessed Mint.  Well that's a perfectly reasonable guess, isn't it? 

For some reason, the first thing that came to my mind was Green Tea.  In my defense, if they can serve Sun-Dried Tomato Caesar Salad, and call their cheerleaders Flight Girls (yeah, I'm not over that yet), why not serve Green Tea Cotton Candy? 

Thank goodness I'm not in charge of cotton candy flavors.  The smart people at The MetLife Stadium chose Green Apple--a much, much better idea.  I'm not a huge cotton candy fan, but I have to tell you, flavored cotton candy is a pretty spectacular.

Ooooh pizza....
We also ended up eating gorgonzola pear and margherita pizza, a cinnamon pretzel stick, a hot dog, and 2 Mrs. Fields cookies.  You know, just a few things.

The game finally wound down, which for Sylvia, a die-hard Chiefs fan, could not come soon enough.  Between my incessant chanting "And that's a JETS FIRST DOWN!" and my awesome touchdown dance (both of which happened about every 10 minutes), we were ready to go home.  Thank goodness our driver knew exactly where to pick us up ("Hello lady, I'm at the stadium, near a flag. Where are you?"  What I wanted to say: "Great, I'm the girl in the black jacket.")  Another story entirely.

MetLife Stadium
102 Route 120
East Rutherford, NJ 07073 

Friday, December 16, 2011

Fact: Peanut Butter Is Awesome. Bigger Fact: The Peanut Butter Co. is Awesomeness x 1000

If everyone dreamed of dark chocolate peanut butter,
the world would be a happier place. 
To say that I'm a fan of peanut butter is just plain silly.  "Fan" doesn't begin to cover the all- encompassing obsession I have for this superfood.  I'm not sure why peanut butter has such a hold on me, but for some reason I cannot control myself around it.  

In fact, I cannot keep peanut butter in my house.  Why?  Because one of my joys in life is to sit on my couch with a jar of peanut butter and a spoon and before I know it...the entire jar is gone.  Poof.  In one sitting.  I've seriously done this a few times.  (You say "eww", I say Winner!)

The Peach Smoothie.  Just kidding.
If you have never eaten peanut butter with a spoon, I don't know what you're waiting for.  (To really connect with this story, I suggest taking a spoon to a jar of peanut butter while you read this).    

And if you're feeling really wild and crazy, here are two fun ideas that you should maybe try: sprinkle some M&M's into the peanut butter jar and gently scoop out a little mound of the creamy mixture dotted with M&M's for a crunchy, colorful mixture that's oh so tasty.  Or another random idea, mix a spoonful of peanut butter with a spoonful of Nutella; double dip for optimum deliciousness.  These are just two amazing ideas I've heard about that I can imagine were really successful. 

Ok back to my story.   So now that you better understand my obsession with peanut butter, you might be able to see that I was a teensy bit excited when I learned that there was a restaurant entirely devoted to peanut butter.

Friends, it is my pleasure to introduce you to The Peanut Butter Company.

I visited this lovely establishment with my friend Ryan, a fellow Peanut Butter Junkie, who flew to New York just to visit this restaurant (this statement may be slightly embellished.  But just slightly).
The Elvis.  I'm All Shook Up.
Ryan ordered The Elvis, a grilled peanut butter sandwich filled with bananas, honey and bacon.  Delightful.  A purist, he ordered just a peanut butter sandwich.  Silly.  I, on the other hand, got a bit out of control...

The Peanut Butter and Pumpkin Sandwich, which comes with
a little carrot and disappointingly, non-peanut butter covered
potato chips.  (You say "eww", I say "yes please").
I ordered the PB&J of the week, The Peanut Butter and Pumpkin Sandwich.  There were so many delectable choices (my second choice was Dark Chocolate Dreams--dark chocolate peanut butter with cherry jam, stuffed with shredded coconut...holy good idea), but the fact that I adore both Peanut Butter and Pumpkin-anything made this decision not as difficult as I thought.  I also ordered the Peanut Butter Smoothie, a wonderful frozen blend of peanut butter, bananas, honey and soy milk.  YUM.

More gratuitous peanut butter porn.
I bought many, many things. 
Then I bought some gifts.  Mostly for others.  Dark Chocolate Dreams and Old Fashioned Creamy for some fellow Peanut Butter Junkies, Peanut Butter Brownie mix (sorry Angelique, that was meant for you but didn't quite make it), a Peanut Butter cookie (pretty good but it could have used More Peanut Butter!), and a Peanut Butter button.  Yup, I bought a button.  Because I want everyone to know that I'm officially "Team Peanut Butter Co".  Also it had a picture of a cute little monkey on it.  Feel free to call me The Gift Shop Sucker.

Old Fashioned Smooth would be my favorite:
I like it pure and classy.
The Peanut Butter Company
240 Sullivan Street
NY, NY 10012

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Apricot Buckwheat Quince Green Tea, the Most Clever Dessert Ever Created

Not only is each plate mouthwateringly yummy,
they are gorgeous to behold.   I mean, come on,
I could frame this.
What did I do Wednesday night?  Oh, I just had one of the most Memorable Meals Of My Life.   
Now I know I tend to exaggerate—it’s just my nature—but I’m not kidding here, people.  This place had incredibly unique, yet equally tasty food, excellent service, a warm and fun ambience, and of course, impeccable desserts.
One of the contributing factors in my recent move to New York was, honestly, food.  New York has the most inventive, diverse restaurant selection per square inch than any other city on the planet.  This is a scientific fact, based on absolutely nothing.
I love learning about new chefs, dishes, and restaurants.  I’m a big fan of The Food Network and The Cooking Channel—Unique Sweets, Best Thing I Ever Ate, Cupcake Wars and Giada DeLaurentiis tend to clog up my DVR--which is how I learned about WD-50.

Monkfish, Smoked Barley, Beet-Mustard, Nori.  If you've
never had smoked barley, run to the nearest smoked
barley store.
WD-50 serves the most unique, delicious, and humorous dishes I have ever come across.  This restaurant is the brainchild of Wylie Dufresne ( seriously one of the coooooolest chef names ever).  I have been dying to try this restaurant since I moved to New York.  So, as is typical with these types of places, I booked the first available reservation at a decent dining hour, which was on a Wednesday night at 6:30pm.  6 weeks later…

The day arrived.  And with it, a crazy rainstorm that robbed me of any cabs within a 2 mile radius.  So instead I took the slowest train in the history of trains-- the appropriately named “F”.  It got me close enough to the restaurant that I could swim to Clinton Street, but I still arrived 15 minutes late.  Gulp.  (The nightmare running through my head: “I’m sorry, our next available seating is at 11pm.  In 2014.”)
Everything Bagel (except it's Ice Cream!), Smoked Salmon Threads,
Crispy Cream Cheese.  Clever and Delicious.

Luckily my friend Keri arrived on time, and the hostess didn’t seem at all perturbed by my late arrival.  We were seated immediately and gravitated to the Tasting Menu.  11 courses containing some of the most unbelievable food combinations I’ve ever seen?  And we were celebrating Keri’s birthday?  Easy choice.

The real food was phenomenal, but of course I was geeking out over the—not 1, not 2, but 3 incredible desserts that we would have the privilege of trying.  (In actuality, it became 5.  Can you believe it? 5 desserts! AHH!)
You'll never guess what this is so I'm just gonna tell you:
Sweet Shrimp, Miso Noodles, Chicory, Yuzu.  Delectable.

Foie-lafel. Get it? HA! It took me a second,
then I burst out laughing. So clever!

Quail, Chartreuse Yogurt, Turnip, Nutmeg.
I had no idea how much I loved quail until now.

 And now, to the incredibly unique desserts...(for those of you who are counting, #5 is at the beginning of the story)

Milk chocolate, black bean, plaintain, soy, peanut
An exotic mix of unbelievable flavors, and
gorgeously presented.  We did a lot of staring.

Candied Egg Yolk, brown buttermilk, jackfruit,
hazelnut.  I can't begin to describe how surprisingly
mouthwatering this little ensemble turned out to be.  I wonder if they'll let me order this to go...

These fried rice pudding balls arrived perfectly
warm.  To Die For is one way to explain them.
Another treat they should sell by the dozen.

Frozen "rice krispy treats".  Delicious!  Refreshing!
A perfect end to the meal!

 What an experience! There was such intelligence infused into this meal, I experienced a pleasant disconnect between my mouth and my brain.  When I would read the description of the upcoming dish on the menu, I had a picture in my mind.  And every time, what arrived blew me away.  
I also need to give a shout out to the staff.  The service could not have been more impeccable.  Our waitress, as well as the entire waitstaff, was extremely knowledgeable about every dish, and you could almost feel their passion for the food.  That can't be taught.  Oh, and Wylie himself happened to be in his own kitchen!  When do you see that happen?  The hostess informed us that he's always there.  Wow.
There's something special going on at WD-50; I highly encourage you to experience it for yourself.
50 Clinton Street
New York, NY 10022

Monday, December 5, 2011

My Signature Spiced Caramel Apple Deep Dish Pie

Before...and After!
Though I've only made it twice, it was so amazingly delicious and received such worldwide acclaim (from the 5 people that tried it), I hereby declare my Signature Thanksgiving Pie...drum roll please...The Spiced Caramel Apple Deep Dish Pie!  Oooh even the description makes my mouth water.

I made this extraordinary pie at Thanksgiving last year, and it was the obvious winner over every other pie made by my friends and family.  **This statement may or may not be verified by aforementioned friends and family who, granted, also made some yummy pies.  (I come from a competitive family.  You've been forewarned if you ever dare play a game of flag football with us).
The Amazing Pies of 2010.  Oh Look!  There's
the Best Caramel Apple Deep Dish Pie Ever!
I decided to make the pie again this year, with some changes.  I started with a base recipe, but I should tell you that I don't follow recipes very well.  It's not that I think I know better (bake with me once and you'll realize I clearly do not), I just like putting my own spin on everything.

I found an online recipe called "Caramel Apple Pie II" (Boh-ring.  I improved upon the pie name just a little.  I love naming things.  When I was little I wanted my job to be Crayola Crayon Namer--who doesn't want to color with Supersilly Purpleness?)

It's a pretty easy recipe, a little time consuming.  It took me about 30 min to prepare the pie, then another 45 minutes to bake.  Here are the steps I followed.  I included the real recipe below.

1. Buy/Make 2 Deep Dish Pie Crusts: I thought I'd save time so I bought a pretty crappy frozen pie crust.  I'm still trying to figure out how the grocery stores work around here.  Sometimes I feel like I moved to Turkey.  Turns out I should have just made the pie crust from scratch (more on this later).

The very perfect frozen pie crust

2. Slice Some Apples.  I like to use a variety of apples, for the burst of color and the mix of flavors.  Granny Smith are a favorite, and I also found some wonderful organic Honeycrisp apples at the Lincoln Square Farmer's Market.  How you slice the apples is key: I used an apple corer (what an awesome invention) and a mandolin to slice the apples very thinly.
Gorgeously cored and mandolin-sliced apples
3. Add cinnamon, sugar, lemon and flour to the bowl of apples and mix thoroughly.  I also added a secret ingredient this year because I walked by the spice counter at Trader Joe's and thought the bottle looked really cute.  Welcome to the recipe, Pumpkin Pie Spice.
Makes a great pie filling, or snack...
4. Add a thin layer of the apple mix to the pie crust.
Layer #1: yummy Apple filling
5. Then add a layer of caramels.  Then a layer of apples.  Then a layer of caramels.  You get the idea.

An extremely generous layer of caramels
6.  Keep building layer upon layer until you've built a beautiful dome of apples and caramels.  (I skipped the toffee layer since I more than made up for it with these little caramels).
Delicious Caramel Apple Mountain
7.  Cover the layers with the second deep dish pie crust.  Now this is where I ran into trouble.  I planned to take the second frozen pie crust from its shell and elegantly drape it over the apple mix.  The pie crust had other plans.  It decided to crumble like an old dry cookie.  Thank you, frozen pie crust that I will never buy again.  So I had to make my second pie crust.  I quickly grabbed some flour, butter and water and made what turned out to be one of the ugliest pie crusts known to man.  I hate making pie crust.  It's truly an art, as I learned from my mom and my friend Amy, both of whom could win pie-crust making competitions.
Not my finest hour, but I made it work.
Miraculously, this silly homemade crust fit.  I then designed a
little flower on top and egg washed the crust.
8. Place it in the oven, covered in foil for the first 30 minutes or so.  Then uncover to help the crust turn crispy and brown.

Et voila!  The Spiced Caramel Apple Deep Dish Pie
9.  Let cool and then eat it.  I actually didn't have a chance to try this lovely pie.  I had two Thanksgiving meals that day and was a bit full by the time I arrived at the second meal, so I left this wonderful treat at my friend Margaret's house.  She reportedly enjoyed it to the last bite.

I guess I'll just have to make another one next year.

  • 1 recipe pastry for a 9 inch double crust deep dish pie
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 5 cups thinly sliced apples
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 20 caramels, halved
  • 2 tablespoons milk


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  2. To Make Taffy: In a small bowl combine brown sugar, melted butter or margarine, and 1/3 cup flour. Mix well and set aside.
  3. To Make Apple Filling: Place apples in a large bowl. Add white sugar, 3 tablespoons flour, cinnamon, and lemon juice. Toss until all ingredients are mixed well and apples are thoroughly coated.
  4. Spoon half of apple filling into pastry-lined deep-dish pan. Top with half of caramels and half of taffy mixture. Repeat process with remaining apple filling, caramels and taffy mixture. Place top pastry over filling and seal well (this is very important--if edges are not sealed, caramel will leak out all over). Cut steam vents and brush top crust with milk or light cream.
  5. Cover pie with foil and place on a baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil from pie and bake for another 20 to 25 minutes, until crust is golden. Serve warm.