A Bouquet of Apples

We are right smack dab in the middle of another holiday season.  Which means, if you're anything like me, you constantly feel full.  Between the holiday parties, baked goodies at work, and seasonal "specials" (holiday Starbucks turkey sandwich, anyone?) it's almost like we're so busy eating, that there isn't even enough time to digest!  So at a time like that, what's a girl to do? (No, the answer is not "practice self control and stop eating," -- not this girl, or this post, anyways.) So, really it's a question (and answer) of lesser evils.  If you can't abstain entirely, at least indulge in a lighter dessert. (And when I say lighter, I mean in taste -- I make no promises as to the calorie count.)

Bouquet of Apples Pie
adapted from hipfoodiemom

Pie Crust


First part
8 Tbsp butter, softened
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 tbs granulated sugar
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 cups quick oats
pinch baking powder
pinch baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt

Second part
1 tbs brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
4 tbs butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Beat the butter and sugars in a large mixing bowl.  This is best done with a stand mixer.  It can be done with a hand mixer (I've tried it both ways,) but it's very difficult to prevent the materials from clumping when using a hand mixer, which means you have to stop every 30 seconds or so, scrape the whisks, and then start the process again. If done with a stand mixer, mix until light pale yellow and fluffy -- if using a hand mixer, you won't reach this color or consistency -- just mix until well combined.
Add the egg yolk and mix well.
Add the remaining dry ingredients until well incorporated, and a soft dough starts to form (cookie dough consistency.)
Spread the mixture onto a pre-greased/pre-buttered cookie sheet so the dough is approximately 1/4 inch thick.
Bake for 10 minutes or until cookie is just set, but still soft. (Keep the oven on.)

After the cookie has cooled, break into small pieces and add to food processor.
Add in salt and brown sugar and process until the mixture resembles a fine sand.
Turn the crumb mixture out onto a clean surface and mix with butter until you can form a ball without the mixture falling apart.
Press into a 10 inch tart pan.
Bake for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, while the crust cools, make the filling.


3 cups whole milk
12 egg yolks
1 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt

Heat the milk on medium on the stove.  Stir relatively frequently to make sure that it doesn't burn.
While the milk heats, whisk the remainder of the ingredients in a separate bowl (with the exception of the vanilla.)
When the milk starts to bubble (gently,) add the mixture to the milk and stir constantly over medium heat until the custard thickens.  This shouldn't take very long.  If there are lumps in the custard (which mine always have) beat with a hand mixer until smooth.
Add the vanilla.
Refrigerate for a couple of hours.

Up until now, everything can be done anywhere from a couple of hours to a couple days in advance of serving.

About an hour prior to serving (or prior to whenever you have to be ready to host your party/dinner/fabulous get-together,) take the custard out of the refrigerator and whisk until creamy.  Smooth into the prepared pie crust.




3 Gala Apples (as red as possible)
Apricot preserves
Lemon juice

Cut the apples in fifths -- basically stand the apple upright and make four cuts, yielding the core in the middle, and four slices surrounding it (one on each side.)

Lay the cut aspect of each slice (the side without the skin) against a mandoline, and slice so that each slice is very thin, yielding a somewhat circular slice for the two larger sides and a semicircle shape for the two smaller sides.

The circle/semicircle should be majority flesh of the apple, with the skin only at the rim.

 Place the apple slices on a paper towel and microwave, starting at 15 seconds at a time, until the slices are pliable enough to roll without breaking. Be careful not to overheat, since then the apple slices will become too soft to prop up in the custard.

Using the full circular slices, roll tightly and place into the custard.  Then using the semi-circular slices, roll more loosely (really just bend into an arched shape and place around the tightly rolled apple) to resemble flower petals.  Pack the apples as tightly or as loosely as you wish.

When you've filled the custard with as many flowers as desired, brush lightly with warmed apricot jelly thinned with lemon juice.  This will prevent the apples from getting brown before they're served.

I'm so in love with how beautiful this pie is when it's done.  You'll have to excuse my multiple photos -- like I said, I fell hard for this pie, and I just couldn't narrow the pictures down to just a couple. More than one person exclaimed that it's almost too pretty to eat (note, I said almost.)  If you're looking for something to take one of the many holiday parties this season, this pie definitely brings the wow factor.  And, like I mentioned before, it's not heavy at all.  It's actually the perfect cap to a holiday meal -- a little fruit, a hint of sweetness, and a touch of beauty to round out the evening.


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