It’s late winter here in the Northwest, and I am missing a bit of the warmth of where I grew up: Phoenix. I am missing family even more. I would love to hop on a plane to go see my mom and dad, but work is busy, kiddies are sick, and house needs tending. It’s always something. While by no means replacing getting a long hug from my mom, something that does remind me of home is my mom’s caramel pie.
Actually the whole experience of making pie is a rather fond childhood memory–from start to finish. I remember waiting as patiently as I could while my mom would roll out the pie crust; just waiting for a few leftover tid bits. I would sit at the oven watching the tender crust blind bake along with the cinnamon sugar roll she would always make with the extra dough. And then there was the filling; pumpkin, lemon, or my personal favorite, caramel. Getting to lick the spoon was always the highlight of afternoon. I rarely stuck around for the meringue whipping, but now as an adult realize this to be enchanting all on its own as well.
So given my pining for for home and the fact that I love rich things when it is cold out, it seemed like a perfect day for my favorite sweet treat: caramel pie. As luck would have it, I happened to have all the ingredients on hand. It helps that none of the ingredients are exotic; this is a good old-fashioned pie with cupboard ingredients.
I did take the liberty of making four individual pies instead of one larger pie. I did this for a few reasons. Sometimes when I make this pie, it weeps after cutting. I also wanted to be able to add a little decoration to each pie. It seemed fun for each person to get their own pie. And let’s face it, it’s adorable!
Gramma’s Caramel Pie
6 Tbsp Butter, very cold
1 ½ cups All-purpose Flour
½ tsp Kosher Salt
1 Tbsp Sugar
3 Tbsp Shortening
3 to 4 Tbsp Ice Water
2 cup Brown Sugar
½ cup Flour
2 cups Milk (2% or whole)
4 large Egg Yolks, beaten
1 Tbsp Butter
1 tsp Vanilla
4 Egg Whites (from above)
6 Tbsp Caster/Baking Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla
¼ tsp cream of tartar
MISE EN PLACE
- Measure out ingredients for crust and refrigerate.
- Separate eggs.
- Measure out other filling ingredients.
- Measure out meringue ingredients.
Dice the butter and return it to the refrigerator while you prepare the flour mixture. Place the flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse a few times to mix. Add the butter and shortening. Pulse 8 to 12 times, until the butter is the size of peas. With the machine running, pour the ice water down the feed tube and pulse the machine until the dough begins to form a ball. Dump out on a floured board and roll into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Roll out on a well-floured board into a circle, rolling from the center to the edge, turning and flouring the dough to make sure it doesn’t stick to the board. Fold the dough in half, place in a pie pan, and unfold to fit the pan. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned.
Take dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. Add to saucepan and mix in milk gradually. Cook until boils and thickens with big bubbles. Temper egg yolks with a small amount of caramel mixture and then add back to saucepan. Cook again to boiling. Add butter and vanilla. Mix well. Let cool and pour into pie crust.
Beat egg whites alone until stiff peaks form. Add sugar, vanilla, and cream of tartar. Mix well. Spread over filling and crust. Brown in oven (on broil) until tips are golden brown. Pop in the refrigerator.
Sifting dry ingredients is great for guaranteeing no lumps.
When separating eggs, be sure to NOT get any yolk in whites.
Be sure to temper eggs or you will end up with scrambled eggs.
Be sure to remove icky white stuff from egg yolk or you will end up with lumps in filling.
Be sure to spread meringue all the way to the crust to form seal.