The Last Hurrah!

I do realize that many of us are looking forward to the warmer months and baking apple pies are the last thing on our minds. BUT, I just have to add this one last apple pie recipe before beginning all over again this fall. Why? Because I never really thought about this before but Chinese 5-spice powder is the perfect accompaniment to Apple Pie. The fragrance of star anise and cinnamon(the dominant spices in 5-spice powder) blends incredibly with baked apples, And when you taste this dominant Asian spice with the soothing flavor of vanilla, it’s almost as good as my favorite way of enjoying Apple Pie, with Cheddar cheese.

Sweet and Fragrant Apple Pie with Vanilla Cream


Pastry for double-crust pie
2 1/2-3 pounds apples, peeled and sliced thinly
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup apple juice
3 tablespoons tapioca pearls*
1 teaspoon Chinese five spice
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons butter or margarine

Preheat oven to 350-degrees F. Pulse tapioca pearls in a food processor or blender(or even a clean coffee grinder) until it has turned to powder. In a small bowl, combine the sugars, tapioca and Chinese five spice powder; set aside. In a large bowl, toss apples with lemon juice and apple juice. Add sugar mixture; toss to coat.
Line a 9-in. pie plate with bottom crust; trim pastry even with edge. Fill with apple mixture; dot with butter. Roll out remaining pastry to fit top of pie. You can either cut this top crust into strips to layer over the pie or place it as is over the top. Trim, seal and flute edges. Cut slits in pastry.
Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the crust is nicely browned and the filling is bubbling and thick. Remove and cool. Make Vanilla Cream when ready to serve.

*Of course substitute the same amount in flour or cornstarch if preferred but I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how well tapioca thickens pie without any residue or after-taste.

Vanilla Cream

1 1/2 cups light cream or half and half
6 egg yolks
4 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Place cream in saucepan and bring to just below simmering point over medium heat. In a bowl, beat egg yolks and sugar with a whisk until combined and silky. Remove a half cup of the simmering cream and slowly pour into the beaten yolks. Add back into the hot cream and stir well. Reduce heat to low and continue cooking another 2 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in the vanilla. Transfer to a bowl and cover to refrigerate until cool. When ready to serve, whisk to combine and lay a piece of pie over a ladle of Vanilla Cream.