Fried Apple Hand Pie


Apple Filling:
5 Granny Smith apples
¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon brown sugar
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1 cinnamon stick
¼ cup simple syrup
½ ounce cornstarch
1½ tablespoons butter

Peel and core the apples and cut into ½-inch pieces.  Place in a large bowl and toss with the sugars, vanilla bean and cinnamon stick.  In a large pan over medium low heat, cook the apples, stirring occasionally, until they begin to release their juices.  Meanwhile, combine the cornstarch and simple syrup to make a paste.  Add the paste into the pan and continue cooking.  The apples are done when they are just barely tender with a slight crunch and the juices have reduced into a syrup.  Remove from the heat and spread the apples out on a cookie sheet lined with a Silpat or parchment paper.  Discard the cinnamon stick and vanilla bean. Place the sheet in the refrigerator until the apples are chilled.

To make the pies:
Empanada dough for frying
Canola or vegetable oil for frying

For the topping:
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
Mixed together.

Fill each empanada shell with 2-3 tablespoons of filling.  Wet the edges with a little water and fold over, seal with the tongs of a fork, empanada press or by pinching the dough with your fingers.  Fry in 350˚F oil until golden brown, about 3-4 minutes.  Remove the pies and toss them in cinnamon sugar.  Serve hot with salty caramel sauce.

Salty Caramel Sauce:
1 cup sugar
¼ cup water
¾ cups heavy cream
3½ tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon sea salt

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the sugar and water over medium low heat until the sugar dissolves.  Increase the heat to medium high and bring to a boil.  Cook without stirring until the syrup is a deep amber color, about 5-6 minutes.  If the syrup is browning unevenly, you can gently swirl the pan.  If sugar crystals form on the rim of the pan while cooking, you may carefully brush the sides with a wet pastry brush.  Once amber in color, remove the pan from the heat and carefully whisk in the cream.  The mixture will bubble up and stream.  Stir in the butter and salt.  Transfer the caramel to a dish to cool.