Stephanie Norcio runs the beautiful test kitchen at Surfas Culinary District in Culver City, a mecca for top-notch cooking equipment and classes that cater to everyone from young kids to aspiring Master Chefs. Upcoming classes include Chinese take-out and Greek favorites for families and make-and-take holiday pies. Norcio, a whiz of a chef who is great with kids, was kind enough to share this recipe for pie pops. Her crust is amazingly flaky and tasty, but the pops can also be made with pre-made crust (even gluten free).
“To make these fun, adorable pie pops takes a bit of preparation, but know that all components can be made up to a week in advance and stored until ready to assemble and bake,” Norcio says. They have a shelf life of four to five days stored at room temperature and freeze very well for up to two months. Your kids can learn to make them from Norcio in person at a class at Surfas Nov. 23. Learn more at www.surfasonline.com.
– Christina Elston
Caramel Apple Pie Pops
Caramel Apple Filling:
6 -8 medium green apples (1½ lbs)
1½ tablespoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons cinnamon
3 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice, plus 1 teaspoon lemon juice measured separately (reserve juiced lemons and one more teaspoon of juice)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons water
Place the juiced lemons and a teaspoon of the lemon juice in a large bowl. As you peel, core and slice the apples into ⅛-inch slices, toss them with the lemons and juice to prevent them from browning.
Once the apples are ready, combine the cornstarch, cinnamon and three tablespoons of lemon juice to make your slurry (thickening agent).
Place the sugar, water and a teaspoon of lemon juice into a heavy-bottomed stock pot. Mix just to combine and avoid getting bits of sugar on sides of pot as much as possible. Turn the heat to high and do not stir. Watch the sugar until it starts to change colors (which will happen very quickly). Once the caramel starts to turn dark amber in color, drain the apples, stir them in and stir and cook for 5-10 minutes until the apples start to release their juice.
Once the caramel and apples are evenly combined and the amount of liquid in the pan has doubled (to about 1 cup), add the slurry. Cook the apples and slurry, stirring, for 2 minutes, just until it starts to thicken, then stir in the butter. The apples will be very soft.
Remove from heat and transfer the apple mixture into a bowl to chill while you make the pie dough.
Flaky Pie Crust:
12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) very cold unsalted butter
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
⅓ cup very cold vegetable shortening
6 to 8 tablespoons (about ½ cup) ice water
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 mixture is the size of peas. Then, as you pulse the machine, pour the ice water down the feed tube and continue pulsing until the dough begins to form a ball.
Dump the dough onto a floured board and shape it into two disks. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Assembly and Baking:
⅓ cup raw sugar (castor, unrefined, large granule sugar)
2 Tablespoons water
24 Popsicle sticks or lollipop sticks
Apple-shaped or circular cookie cutter about 2 inches in diameter
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Mix the eggs and water very well and set aside.
Sprinkle your work surface with flour and place one disk of pie dough in the center. Sprinkle the top with additional flour. Working from the center of the dough to the edges, roll the dough out evenly to a thickness of ⅛ inch.
Using the cookie cutter, cut as many apple or circle shapes out of the pie dough as you can. Repeat with the second disk of dough. You should end up with about 24 shapes.
Arrange the shapes of dough on a cookie sheet covered with baking parchment and use a pastry brush to brush them all with the egg wash. Top half of the shapes with a tablespoon-size scoop of apple filling. (I like to use a small ice-cream scoop to make this easier.) Top each scoop of filling with a second shape of dough, flipping the shape so the egg-washed side is on top of the filling, and crimp all the edges with a fork. Coat the tops of the pies with more egg wash and sprinkle with sugar (Regular granulated or colored sugar can also be used).
Place one popsicle stick in each pie pop. Bake for 25 minutes or until evenly golden brown, rotating the baking sheet halfway through baking.
Cool and enjoy!