Apple Bourbon Pot Pie is a truly special treat. This is where comfort food meets dinner-party-worthy dessert. All the elements can be made ahead for easy entertaining (includes an alcohol-free option).
What I love about this recipe is that it has all the great attributes of a good Apple Pie, but it looks fancy enough to serve at the end of a dinner party or holiday meal. In fact, at first glance you might think this is just an apple pie served in a ramekin.
But there are differences. A normal apple pie filling is not too juicy because it would be impossible to slice the pie without it oozing all over the plate.
When I thought about making an Apple Bourbon Pot Pie I wanted to create a filling that had a “sauce” holding it all together. You know, like the way a Chicken Pot Pie has the gravy binding the chicken and veggies together.
I started the filling the way I start Apple Pie filling, by macerating the fruit. As I’ve explained many times, macerating helps the fruit hold it’s shape when it’s cooked (see the link in the helpful hints section for a detailed explanation). What I didn’t want was a pot pie filled with applesauce.
The filling needed more liquid besides the juice from the apples to form a sauce. Apple cider came to mind right away. I prefer cider to apple juice because I like the full-apple flavor over the mostly sweet flavor of apple juice.
I amped up the flavor of the filling with a little bourbon. You could use Applejack, Calvados, rum or any other liquor you choose. If you don’t want to use alcohol just replace the bourbon with more apple cider.
A hint of cinnamon and vanilla rounds out the flavor perfectly.
Helpful hints for making Apple Bourbon Pot Pie:
- Macerating the apples will prevent them from completely breaking down and becoming like apple sauce. See this post to read more about the science behind macerating fruit.
- Granny Smith apples are a good choice for baking. In general, you want an apple that is very firm and has a good balance of sweet and tart flavor.
- The alcohol in the recipe is optional, but alcohol is not used to give a boozy flavor. Read this post to find out why using a little alcohol enhances the other flavors in the apple filling.
- To work ahead you can make the pot pies up to the point where you cover the ramekins with the dough. At this point you can wrap the tray of pies and refrigerate several hours or overnight before baking. The pies might take a few extra minutes to bake if they are cold when they go into the oven.
- Cutting a slit in the top of each pie allows steam to escape. This will keep the crust crisp and minimize boil-overs.
- Placing the ramekins on a tray makes it easier to move the pies to and from the oven and also prevents any juices from spilling in the oven.
- 3 pounds (1.3 kg) apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2" cubes
- 1/2 cup (4 oz, 113g) brown sugar
- 1/2 cup (4 oz, 113g) apple cider
- 1/4 cup (2 oz, 60 ml) Bourbon (optional, see note)
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 vanilla bean
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/2 recipe Classic Puff Pastry (or use 1 sheet of frozen dough)
- 1 egg whisked for egg wash
- Combine the chopped apples with the sugar, cider, bourbon, salt and cinnamon. Split the vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds. Add the seeds and bean pod to the apples. Set aside to macerate for at least 1 hour and as long as 3 hours. (See Note)
- Drain the apples, saving the juice. Combine 1/4 cup of the juice with the corn starch. Set Aside
- Put the apples and the rest of the juice in a large saucepan. Cook over medium-high until the juices begin to boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue cooking until the apples are crisp-tender, stirring often. The apples should still hold their shape. The exact time will depend on the type of apple, estimate 10 minutes.
- Add the corn starch mixture to the apples. Increase the heat to medium-high and return to a boil, stirring constantly. Cook until the juices are slightly thickened and become translucent. Transfer the apple filling to a container and cool to room temperature. Chill until ready to use. The filling can be made 2-3 days ahead.
- Preheat the oven to 350F. Place 6 1-cup ramekins or a large casserole dish onto a sheet pan.
- Divide the apple filling between the dishes (or pour into the casserole dish).
- Roll the puff pastry to a 1/4" thick. For individual pies use a biscuit cutter to cut six 4.5" circles. For a large pot pie use the entire sheet.
- Brush the edges of the ramekins with egg wash. Place a dough round onto each dish and fold the edges over. (see note) Make a slit into the top of each small pie or a large "x" if making one larger pie. Brush the tops of the pies with egg wash and sprinkle with granulated sugar.
- Bake until the pastry is puffed and lightly browned, about 20 minutes.
- Serve warm.
If you don't want to use alcohol increase the apple cider to 3/4 cup.
Macerating the apples will prevent them from completely breaking down and becoming like apple sauce. See this post to read more about the science behind macerating fruit.
To work ahead: Once the pastry is on top of the ramekin the tray can be covered and refrigerated for several hours or overnight. Egg wash and sprinkle with sugar just before placing in the oven.
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