Kick Off Pie Season With Cronut Mastermind Dominique Ansel

As he preps for Pie Night, the pastry superstar shares a decadent recipe you can make at home
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If seasons were desserts, you know fall would be a pie. Specifically, it would probably be a decadent apple pie, with peak-season fruit nestled warmly in a buttery, rich, flaky crust. Dominique Ansel understands this, and he created a salted caramel apple pie that will transport you to a land of sweaters, leaves, and plaid shirts, in a single bite.

But Ansel, the pastry chef and mad scientist who invented the cronut–a croissant-doughnut hybrid so delicious that it inspired New Yorkers to queue up outside his Manhattan bakery for hours in the vain hope of securing one before the day’s allotment sold out–is not one for doing just enough.

So, instead of creating that perfect pie and calling it a day, he instead is turning his restaurant 189 by Dominique Ansel into an entire wonderland of pies for four nights in October. The Pie Night menu will include no less than 10 different pies, sweet and savory, and a ticket to the event gets you access to as many slices as you can consume in a 90-minute session. In other words, heaven.

In addition to his own creations, which include a yuzu-fresh blueberry pie, strawberry-rhubarb cheesecake pie, and a harvest squash, blistered cherry tomato, and lemon ricotta pie, Ansel invited some famous collaborators to submit their own recipes. Pie Night guests can sample Ruth Reichl’s sour cherry crostata, Aaron Franklin’s brisket shepherd’s pie, Wolfgang Puck’s chocolate cream pie, and even actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson’s green chile chicken pot pie.

Those all sound incredible of course, but let’s get back to that salted caramel apple pie. Over years of Pie Nights, it has become known as the number one must-try.

We were able to get the recipe straight from the pie-master himself, so after your taste at Pie Night inevitably leaves you craving more, you can make your own DIY version at home. Break this out when you need to win the potluck.

Pie Night takes place at 189 by Dominique Ansel, 189 The Grove Drive, on October 8-11, with sessions at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. nightly. Tickets ($59) must be purchased in advance via Resy.  

189 dominique ansel pie night salted caramel apple pie dominique ansel recipe
Salted Caramel Pie by Dominique Ansel

Photo: Courtesy of 189 by Dominique Ansel

Salted Caramel Apple Pie by Dominique Ansel

For Salted Caramel Sauce

Ingredients:
2 cup sugar
2 2/3 cups heavy cream
4 tbsp light corn syrup
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
2 tsp fleur de sel

Method:
In medium pot, bring all ingredients to a boil, gently stirring occasionally. Once the mixture has reached 230°C/445°F on a candy thermometer(it will get noticeably thicker), remove from the heat and pour into a non-plastic container (i.e. a pyrex or metal mixing bowl). Let cool to room temperature.

Once at room temperature, whisk well and then chill in the fridge until needed (TIP: the caramel sauce can be made up to 2 weeks ahead; you can also drizzle it over ice cream or add into your coffee!).

One hour before you’re ready to assemble the pie, remove the sauce from the fridge and bring to room temperature.

For Pie Dough

Ingredients:
4 cups flour
2 tbsp sugar
1½ tsp salt
3 sticks unsalted butter, cubed
2/3 cup cold water

Method:
In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine flour, sugar and salt on medium-low speed (about 30 seconds).

Increase speed to medium and stream in cold water, followed by the butter. Continue mixing on medium speed (about 2 minutes) until combined. (Do not overmix.)

Transfer the dough onto a floured surface and divide in two balls. Flatten each into a disk, wrap in plastic and chill for at least 2 hours (or overnight).

For Apple Pie Filling

Ingredients:
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1¾ tsp bourbon
2/3 cup apple cider
7 1/3 tsp corn starch
1/3 tsp salt
3/4 tsp nutmeg
3/4 tsp cinnamon
9-10 Gala or Honeycrisp apples, peeled, cored, sliced

Method:
In a medium pot, melt the butter, sugar, and brown sugar over medium heat, stirring gently with a rubber spatula. Once melted, add in half of the sliced apples, toss until apples are evenly coated, then cover and cook over medium, stirring occasionally, until the apples are soft, tender, and light golden brown (about 20-30 minutes).

Add bourbon to the pot and gently stir to deglaze, then bring the mixture to a boil for 2 minutes until the alcohol has evaporated.

In a mixing bowl, combine apple cider, cornstarch, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon with a whisk until combined. Add to the pot and gently stir until incorporated. Add the remaining apple slices and cook on medium for another 8-10 minutes until the apples are tender. Remove from heat, let cool to room temperature.

Assemble and Bake

Ingredients and supplies:
Pie dough (chilled)
Coffee filter or parchment, and rice or dried beans (to blind bake the pie crust)
Apple pie filling (cooled)
Salted caramel sauce (cooled)
1 egg, beaten (for egg wash)

Method:

Butter and flour a 9-inch pie dish (or spray with non-stick cooking spray). On a well floured surface, roll out 1 ball of dough into a 14-in round that’s 3mm thick, then transfer to the prepared pie dish, pressing gently down and up the sides. Trim off the excess with a paring knife. Chill in the freezer for one hour.

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Blind bake the pie crust. First, line the pie shell with a coffee filter or parchment, and fill with rice or dried beans. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until light golden blond. Remove the coffee filter and rice/beans, bake for an additional 5 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool.

Pour cooled apples into the cooled pie shell.

Roll out the other ball of dough to 2mm thick, then cut into strips that are 1” wide and 12” long. Arrange half of the dough strips across pie. Form a lattice by arranging the other half of the strips diagonally across the first strips. Seal the edges by pressing around the rim of the pie with a fork. Trim around the edges as needed.

Brush the surface of the pie with egg wash. Bake for 25-30 minutes until crust is deep golden brown. Let cool on a rack for 30 minutes, then pipe salted caramel sauce on top and serve.


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