Summer Salted Honey Caramel Pie

Once upon a time, there was a summer.  It was a summer in which there were no exams to study for (like last year) or dissertations to write (like next year).  It was a summer in which many goals were put forth.  It was a summer in which many adventures were (and will be) had (NYCCanada!).  It was a summer in which many foods were made.  Including, but not limited to, rhubarb coffee cake in muffin form!

But back to those goals.  One of them is to read/reread two math texts in preparation for next year.  Not done so much yet.

Another goal was to get a bike into working condition and bike to as many local errands as possible.  Well, today that bike came out of the basement (thanks mom and dad for bringing it to me!) and I biked to the farm for dinner ingredients for the first time!  I found this lovely sight on the way home, and the flowers even made it back in one piece!

Yet another goal was to try some "real" food photography this summer.  Now that I finally made it to get the supplies, I tried it this morning!

But lest you think I am far more of a "go-getter" than I actually am: this pie was intended for NES's coworkers on Pi Day.  In March.  That.  It's only 2 1/2 months late.

Now that it's been made, in June, it never actually made it to work with NES.  Ah well.

If you've ever made saltine candy crunch/Christmas crack/saltine toffee (call it whatever you'd like), this pie tastes like the pie version of that.  Like seriously.  However, it is also much more complicated and I personally prefer saltine candy crunch.  Still, that's not a pie!

It starts off with a pretzel crust, which I have had trouble with in the past, and I figured would fall apart this time too, since it isn't par-baked or anything.  However, I'm pretty sure that the caramel going inside would hold anything together (seriously, it could be glue!), so I had nothing to worry about there.

And meanwhile I ate the leftover pretzels with cookie butter.  (Go do it!  Right now!)

The caramel that goes inside is one of the more complicated caramels I've made.  Although I didn't have to do nearly as much stirring as with other caramels, it still took a while, and had a few more steps.  It did make some nice honey-flavored hard candies from the drips off the spoon, though! First of all, I bought myself a new (hopefully LBMS-proof) candy thermometer!

Then I let the sugar, water and honey come to a boil.  And boil.  And boil.  I am a little torn on what happened at the end.  Up until about 330 degrees F, it looked and smelled sugary and sweet and golden.  At close to 340 degrees F, as the recipe said, it turned amber (definitely), but also started to smell a little burnt.  Add to that my burnt browned butter, and well, the caramel really didn't smell like I imagined.  However, despite my worries it would taste burnt, in the pie, the flavor is really mellowed out, and I didn't mind it at all.
Also, here's my awesome new honey bottle!  

On top goes a really simple chocolate ganache.  Oh, and some of that fancy orange ginger salt.  Yup.

And then come the new pictures!

I really had a blast taking these, and I am totally planning on doing this more often!  I definitely don't have the time to do it for every post, but stay tuned!

Samantha Bee's Salty Caramel Pie
slightly adapted from First Prize Pies

8 oz. pretzels (your favorite!)
6-8 tbsp. of unsalted butter (or maybe a little more)

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
2 tbsp. mascarpone cheese
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 cup heavy cream
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate or chocolate chips

Grind the pretzels in a food processor or crush them in a large ziplock bag with a rolling pin.  Pour into a pie pan and add the melted butter.  Mix until the texture is like wet sand.  This may require more butter.

Press the crumbs firmly into the pie pan and place into the fridge to chill while you make the filling.

To make the filling, stir together the sugar, honey and water into a heavy-bottomed saucepan and stir until the sugar is dissolved.

Heat over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally until the caramel is a dark amber color and reached 340 degrees F on a candy thermometer.

While this is happening, in another small pan, heat the butter over medium heat.  It will froth once it is melted.  Stir frequently, and after the froth has started to disappear, watch carefully.  As soon as the butter turns a light brown and smells nutty, remove immediately from the heat.

Remove the caramel mixture from the stove, and slowly pour the cream into the hot mixture down the side of the pan, whisking constantly.  The caramel will bubble and release a lot of steam, so be careful!

Then whisk in the butter, mascarpone cheese,  vanilla and salt.

Pour the filling into the chilled pie shell, and refrigerate for at least 5 hours (uncovered) or until fully set.

When fully set, heat the cream until lightly scalded, and pour over the chocolate.  Let sit for a minute, and stir until smooth and glossy.  Spread the ganache over the top of the filling.  Allow to set (at room temperature or quickly in the fridge).

Serve at room temperature.  To prevent the caramel from sticking while cutting, run the knife under hot water before slicing.  Keep covered and refrigerated for up to 1 week.


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