There’s something about delicious pie crust, combined with warm apples, then mixed with a sweet dulce de leche sauce that I’ve wanted to create for a long time. With my husband Jason out of town for the weekend, I had some free time to turn the kitchen up side down and experiment with making a dulce de leche apple pie from scratch!
So what is dulce de leche? It’s a Mexican caramel, also called “cajeta” that is typically made from goat’s milk, however it is also commercially available from cow’s milk too. I decided to make my “milk candy” version with sweetened condensed milk, here is a simple dulce de leche recipe you can make at home. The end product is a sweet, sticky, rich and caramelized candied milk.
Here are the steps for the Dulce de Leche Apple pie…
I chose to make a ginger almond and pecan crumble to top my pie for extra flavor and texture. Below are some of my favorite cookies to eat and use in baking.
The crumble is a combination of oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, flour, butter, sliced almonds, pecans, ginger and almond cookies.
I used a classic pie dough recipe called Pâte Brisée, which is extremely versatile for sweet and savory pies.
One of the most important steps is to cut the butter into 1/2″ pieces, then chill of freeze the cubes. This prevents the butter from melting when you begin to incorporate the butter into the flour.
Once the dough is allowed to rest for at least 30 minutes, roll out the crust to the desired shape or form into the pie pan. Allow the dough to rest for 40 minutes in the refrigerator to relax the gluten, then freeze for 20 minutes to solidify the butter.
I used a combination of granny smith and gala apples for the filling. The granny smith gave nice structure and tartness, while the gala was tender and sweet. I cut the apples into 1/4″ slices to ensure that the apples would be cooked through yet still hold it’s shape.
The apples were mixed with the dulce de leche, sugar, cinnamon, cornstarch, vanilla and apple cider.
Add 1 cup of the ginger almond and pecan crumble to cover the apples.
To create a lattice crust roll out a 13 by 10-inch rectangle, cut the dough into 8, 13-inch-long, 1 1⁄4-inch-wide strips. Separate them slightly and freeze them on the baking sheet until very firm, about 30 minutes. Freezing the lattice strips makes it much easier to weave the strips together without tears or breaks. It also helps the lattice maintain its shape during baking.
Lay 4 parallel strips evenly over the filling. Weave a fifth strip in the opposite direction, lifting the strips as needed to facilitate weaving. Continue to weave in the remaining 3 strips, one at a time, to create a lattice. Trim the overhanging edges of the dough to 1⁄2 inch. Press the edges of the bottom crust and lattice strips together and fold underneath. Crimp the dough evenly around the edges of the pie using your fingers.
The dulce de leche apple pie before baking; use a beaten egg for the egg wash and brush the surface of the crust to create a nice golden brown color after baking.
The dulce de leche apple pie fresh from the oven, I added candied pecans in the small openings of the lattice crust for extra sweetness and crunch! Here is simple recipe for candied nuts.
A beautiful slice of the pie; golden brown lattice crust, candied pecans, ginger almond and pecan crumble, with dulce de leche apple filling.
The apples are tender and not too sweet, and the dulce de leche sauce is nestled in between the layers of apples. Lay the apples closely together when assembling the pie so you get a nice dense apple filling and don’t lose too much height after baking.
I’ve added multiple components to this pie; candied pecans, homemade dulce de leche, crumble, and lattice top. However, the great thing is you can omit or keep as many elements as you like! For example, just top the pie with the crumble, or just the lattice. The best part is experimenting, your pies will only get better with more practice. Don’t worry, I’m sure none of your friends or family will complain, just as long as you share!
A twist on classic apple pie; Dulce de leche apple filling topped with a ginger and almond cookie crumble and beautiful lattice crust.
- 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
- ¼ teaspoon fine salt
- 1 egg white
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup pecans
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour, plus flour for rolling
- 1 ¼ teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons of sugar
- 2 ½ sticks (10 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces, chilled
- ¼ cup of ice water
- 1/3 cup ground almond cookies
- 1/3 cup ground ginger cookies
- ¼ cup sliced almonds
- ¼ cup pecans
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
- 2/3 cup rolled oats
- ½ +1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 8 tablespoons unsalted sweet cream butter (4 ounces), cut into ½” pieces, chilled
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/3 cup white granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- Pinch of salt
- 2 pounds of sliced apples, ¼” slices (Granny Smith and Gala)
- 4 tablespoons dulce de leche
- 2 tablespoons apple cider
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 8 ounces of ginger almond and pecan crumble
- ¼ cup candied pecans
- 1 egg for egg wash
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar for sprinkling
- Heat the oven to 425°F and arrange a rack in the middle.
- Pour milk into a pie plate and sprinkle with salt. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and place in a roasting pan. Place the roasting pan in the oven and add enough hot tap water to reach halfway up the sides of the pie plate. Bake for 1 hour.
- Remove the roasting pan from the oven and remove the pie plate. Carefully uncover the plate and whisk the mixture until smooth, about 1 minute. Replace the foil and return the pie plate to the water in the roasting pan. Place back in the oven, adding more hot water so that it remains halfway up the sides of the pie plate. Continue to bake until the dulce de leche is dark golden brown (about the color of peanut butter), about 3 hours more. Check every hour to see if more water is needed for the water bath.
- Remove from the oven and transfer the pie plate to a wire rack. Remove the foil and whisk the dulce de leche until smooth, about 3 minutes. Let cool to room temperature.
- Preheat oven to 300°F. Put sugar, cinnamon, salt, ground cloves, and ground nutmeg in a plastic bag, shake to mix.
- Put egg, water, and vanilla in a bowl. Beat until slightly foamy, add pecans and coat well. Lift pecans out of bowl with a slotted spoon and put into the bag of sugar and spices. Shake pecans in bag making sure they are well coated.
- Bake 40-45 minutes on a baking pan lined with silpat or lightly greased aluminum foil. 15 minutes into the baking, stir up the pecans with a fork. Let cool completely.
- Sift and combine the flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl, then add the butter and toss to coat with flour. With your hands or a pastry blender, work the butter into the flour, tossing and incorporating any pieces of butter that have settled at the bottom of the bowl, until the butter pieces are no larger than a pea. Drizzle ¼ cup of the water over the top and, using a fork, mix the dough until it just holds together when pinched. Knead the dough until it is completely smooth and the butter is incorporated.
- Divide the dough in half, with one piece slightly larger than the other (the larger piece will be for the bottom crust). Shape each half into a 1-inch-thick disk, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or for up to a day.
- If the dough is too hard to roll, let it rest at room temperature for a few minutes. Lightly flour the work surface and the rolling pin. Lightly dust the top off the larger disk of dough with flour and roll it out to a 13-14 inch round about 1/8 inch thick: roll outward from the center, rotating the dough frequently and adding a little flour to the work surface or dough as needed to prevent sticking. Fold the dough in half and transfer to a 9- to 10-inch pie plate, gently easing the dough into the corners and up the sides. Fit the larger piece of dough on a 9 to 10 inch pie plate, letting the excess dough hang over the edge; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 40 minutes, then transfer to the freezer and freeze for 20 minutes.
- Lattice Crust: Roll out and trim the second piece of dough into a 13 by 10-inch rectangle, cut the dough into eight 13-inch-long, 1 1⁄4-inch-wide strips. Separate them slightly and freeze them on the baking sheet until very firm, about 30 minutes. Freezing the lattice strips makes it much easier to weave the strips together without tears or breaks. It also helps the lattice maintain its shape during baking. (See Pie Assembly for lattice crust instructions)
- Grind almond and ginger cookies in a food processor or place in a bag and crush with a rolling pin.
- In a medium sized bowl, combine cookies, sliced almonds, pecans, flour, brown sugar, rolled oats, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.
- Add the chilled cubed butter to the mixture. Using your fingers break down the butter into the mixture to create small pea sized pieces of butter in the crumble topping. Once mixed, press the crumble together gently to form larger crumbles.
- Refrigerate or freeze until ready to use.
- Preheat oven to 425°F. Use center rack in oven. In a small bowl combine the sugars, cornstarch, spices and salt.
- In a large bowl, mix the dulce de leche, apple cider and vanilla. Add the sliced apples to the large bowl, toss with dulce de leche mixture. Add dry ingredients to the apples and toss to combine. Add filling to the chilled pie crust. Top with 1 cup of the crumble.
- Lattice Crust: Using the chilled strips of lattice, lay 4 parallel strips evenly over the filling. Weave a fifth strip in the opposite direction, lifting the strips as needed to facilitate weaving. Continue to weave in the remaining 3 strips, one at a time, to create a lattice.
- After letting the strips thaw and soften for a few minutes, trim the overhanging edges of the dough to 1⁄2 inch. Press the edges of the bottom crust and lattice strips together and fold underneath. Crimp the dough evenly around the edges of the pie using your fingers. Brush crust with egg wash then sprinkle crust with sugar.
- Bake for 30 minutes at 425°F. Then turn the temperature down to 375°F. If pie has achieved the desired color, cover it with foil . Bake for another 30 minutes. Check the bottom of the pie pan to ensure bottom crust is browned. Bake an additional 15-30 minutes if needed.
- Cool the pie on a baking rack for at least 2 hours before serving to ensure the pie has set.
If you do not have time to make homemade dulce de leche, many grocery stores or Mexican markets sell "cajeta" or pre-made dulce de leche. I recommend La Lechera made by Nestle.