Introduction: The Infinity∞Pie (granola-caramel Apple Cheesecake Pie)
"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe"
- Carl Sagan
Hello everyone! Thank you for checking out my Instructable. So this is Pi month! A month where we celebrate the vast infinity of the mathematical constant known as π! It is an infinite number starting with 3.14 and continues on and on and on to infinity. To me, what says infinity more than the vast cosmos itself? With that being said, this is also the debut month of the new show Cosmos being aired weekly on FOX, to which I've been waiting for 3 years to air! (pretty much since I heard about it.) Cosmos: A Space time Odyssey is a remake of the old yet vastly popular 1980's show Cosmos created by Carl Sagan. Due to this debut, I feel it is a more than enough reason to make a pie dedicated to this tribute to a masterpiece and for my idol Carl Sagan; a person to who was so alluring and almost magical with explaining how the universe works and our place in it. Thanks to him, my passion for science blossomed.
The pie I'm dedicating is made up of apple pie and cream cheese with my own crunchy mix on top made up of cinnamon-apple granola and pecans. The small center is made of crust I designed myself to indicate the cosmos. The Infinity pie is time consuming yet easy. The list of ingredients is a lot as well. Be sure to plan an entire evening to complete it properly. Roll up your sleeves and let's get started! This may take an infinity to make ;)
Step 1: Make the Crust
I decided to make pretty much everything from scratch for this pie, including the crust. If you wish to cut time by buying pre-made crust, then by all means GO AHEAD. This is 2014. But just keep in mind it may not be as tasty.
TIME: 20 MIN total for crust
Crust is not too painful to make. You will need for crust
- 1 1/2 cups of Gram Cracker crumbs or 12 Gram Crackers made to crumbs.
- 3 tbsp (tablespoon) of sugar
- 3/4 cup of non salted butter melted
- 1 tsp (teaspoon) of cinnamon
- Springform pan 9" or 10" pie plate
Turn your oven on to 375 degrees
Whisk or with a fork mix together the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and cinnamon. (The cinnamon will give it some nice flavor.) Melt the unsalted butter in the microwave and use a fork to mix the butter with the crumb mixture until they are all are moistened. It will look clumpy and much darker and that's a good thing. Spread the crumbs into a 9-inch spring-form pan OR a 10-inch pie plate and press them firmly into an even layer over the bottom and half of the way up the sides of the pan. Bake for 6 to 8 minutes, or until golden brown. Let it sit for 8 minutes to cool, or just stick it in the fridge to save time.
By baking the crust you will get a more crunchy crust. Which will go beautifully with the crunchy top I have planned for this pie =)
Step 2: Make the Special Caramel Sauce...
The secret is toasting the nuts!! Forgive me Grandma!! Haha, I'm just kidding. No, but seriously. Any time you have a dish with nuts, the secret to ultimate flavor is to toast them. It only takes 5 minutes, and enhances the flavors so much!
TIME for Sauce: 8 MIN
What you will need for the Special Caramel sauce.
- 1 packet of apple-cinnamon granola from Quaker Oats.
- 3/4 cup of chopped pecans
- 1 cup salted caramel sauce. I used sugar-free in order to not go overboard with the sugar.
- small cooking sheet for toasting the nut mixture in the oven.
Open the packet of granola and pour in a nut chopper as well as the pecans. You could also break them up yourself by putting them on a cooking sheet and breaking with a spoon, but it may get messy.
Since the oven is already going because the crust was just made toss the nuts in!
After 5 min of toasting pull them out. They should smell amazing.
Take the crust out of the fridge. It should be cooled by now. Pour the caramel on top of the crust and sprinkle the toasted nut mixture on top of the caramel. Place the springform pan into the fridge to chill out.
MAKE SURE YOU SAVE SOME TOASTED NUTS FOR LATER. ;) You will use them as a garnish
Step 3: Making the Pie Filling
The Infinity pie is based off an apple cheesecake pie. So making the apple pie part is very much like making a regular apple pie as you would have guessed. You can either BUY (it's 2014) your apple pie filling OR you can make it. I chose to make it because I want a delicious pie this time. Dedicating something to my hero only deserves the best! ;)
NOTE: if you are using a can of apple pie filling you only need to use half!!
TIME for Pie filling 40-50 min (depending of if you have an apple corer)
What you will need for Apple pie filling
- 5 small granny smith apples. They must be peeled and cored and cut them thinly (slave work)
- 3/4 cup of unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup of light brown sugar
- 2 tsp of cinnamon
- a couple dashes of salt
- a large pan for cooking on the stove
I DON'T have an apple corer. So this part took extra long.... my boyfriend wasn't too thrilled. But it's only 5 little apples. While you are peeling apples, put the butter on the stove and begin melting it. It will only take a few minutes. When it's melted add the brown sugar and cinnamon to the butter and mix until gently bubbling. Again it only takes a few minutes so you probably won't be done with your apples. The" brown apple syndrome" will happen and it's alright. These apples are destined to go into a brown sugar liquid and cooked extremely soft. No harm so don't stress! ;)
when you're finished with the apples slide them in the large cooking pan and coat them well with the liquid. Put a lid on the pan and stir occasionally for 10 min. Remove the lid and up the temperature to med-hi to boil off most of the remaining liquid. Throw a few dashes of salt in. After another 15 min the apples should be very very soft and that's what you're looking for.
LET SIT FOR 20 min to cool before adding to your pie crust. Getting tired yet??
Step 4: MEANWHILE... Let the Creativity Flow
You can turn the stove off if you want to save electricity for 20 min while the apple pie filling cools....
But OK, you have 20 min to make a design to top your Infinity pie. Me, because I didn't want to have to make a batch just for crust I broke down and bought my pre-made crust. FORGIVE ME GRANDMA. ;) haha
Pre-made crust is very easy to work with. You just unroll and cut out whatever design you want. I see pie design tops (much like pumpkins today) as a big fad soon. It is taking off but not like I think it will soon. But anyways, cut out whatever your heart desires! If you mess up, crust is easy to erase... just flatten out and try again.
For stencils, I just found shooting stars online, printed them out, and laid them over the dough and cut it. Easy as pie.
My shooting star is dedicated to Carl Sagan and the infinite universe. =)
Step 5: Pour Your Cooled Apples on Top
Exactly as the title says... pour the cooled apples on top of the cooled caramel mixture that's been chilling in the fridge. This is the easiest step! ;)
Step 6: Cheesecake Layer
I love cheesecake. If it were me I'd put cheesecake in everything. But I probably wouldn't live long. Anyways, again, this is only technically half a cheesecake so the ingredients aren't as heavy.
Turn that stove back on to 350 degrees
What you will need for cheesecake topping:
- 8 ounces of soft at room temperature cream cheese
- 1/2 cup of granulated sugar
- 1 egg medium sized
- 1 tsp of vanilla extract
- 1tbsp of lemon juice
- lemon wedge for lemon zest
- electric mixer and a medium sized bowl
First you will need to beat the cream cheese and sugar together on medium speed for about a minute. They must be well mixed. Then add the egg and beat it in until it is combined for about a minute. Then add the lemon juice and vanilla extract and beat for another minute. Zest the lemon wedge in. Just a few times is all it needs. Pour the cheesecake batter over the apples in the pan, smoothing it into an even layer as much as you can. Bake until the cheesecake is set about 25-30 minutes.
While this is happening, as you will see in the next step, coat your design you made with the pie crust with egg whites and bake at the same time in the oven with the pie.
Step 7: Put Some Heat to the Creativity
Because pie crust is usually not belonging on cheesecake, I decided to bake it separately on a cooking sheet.
I coated it with an egg white to give it shine and baked it next to the cheesecake for 5-8 min.
When it was done, I pulled it out and sprinkled it with sugar while it was still hot to give it some sweetness.
The cheesecake should be done within 30 min. Transfer the cheesecake pan to a wire rack to cool, the cheesecake must refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. (For me, since it was already midnight when we were finished... lol, we ended up just chilling over night.)
Step 8: The Finishing Touches~
Before you put your infinity pie in the fridge...., ta dahhhh, the toasted crust design goes on top of the cheesecake like a crowning jewel! Then, add some of the remaining crunchy toasted nuts on top and along the outsides to bring it to life. Then, put that sucker in the fridge overnight. I know it will be REAL HARD. But trust me, it needs to cool for at least 4 hours.
When serving your Infinity pie, put some caramel on the plate along with the special crunchy nut mixture. It will definitely knock someone's socks off! Pair with vanilla bean ice cream for a real desert! Be sure to refrigerate any leftovers.
"The sky calls to us; if we do not destroy ourselves. We will one day, venture to the stars"
This one's for you Carl! Enjoy your Infinity pie everyone =) PLEASE let me know if you make it!