Next weekend we will head upstate with friends for the third year in a row to enjoy a weekend of fall foliage, bonfires, and apple picking. For this event, the food tends to be as memorable as the play. In particular, Saturday night’s dinner must conclude with a spectacular apple-based dessert, so I did a test run of this Spiced Apple Dessert Pizza to prepare. It’s tough work ensuring the menu is impeccable, but someone’s gotta do it.
The real reason I wanted to do a trial run of the dessert pizza is to test the big plans I had to jazz up the crust. Inspired by that satisfying snack combination of sweet apple slices with salty sharp cheddar, I added cheddar cheese to my homemade cookie base. The cheese makes the cookie crust a little crunchy on the outside and contributes a nuanced complexity. Way more sophisticated than store-bought sugar cookie dough!
I tweaked the recipe in a few other ways, using full-fat cream cheese, leaving out the walnuts in favor of doubling the pecans, and increasing the amount of caramel sauce. Speaking of the caramel, I whipped up this homemade version, adding a generous pinch of flaky sea salt to once again bring in a salty foil to this sweet treat. The original recipe lists the caramel as optional, but I respectfully disagree. This final touch is integral to the dessert.
In case you were wondering, the apple pizza passed my test with flying colors. And, since all four families going on the trip have young kids, I’m confident it will be a hit among young and (not-too-) old. With a cheddar-spiked cookie crust, sweetly spiced sauteed apples, decadent salted caramel sauce, and crunchy toasted pecans, the finale to our fall vacation is sure to be memorable.
More Dessert Recipe:
Spiced Apple Dessert Pizza
Sugar Cookie Crust:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- 4 tblsp butter, room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 3 tblsp milk
- 4 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese, finely grated
Apple and Caramel Topping:
- 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- ½ tblsp unsaldet butter
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 2 small Granny Smith apples, cored and thinly sliced
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- ¼ cup caramel sauce
- ¼ cup crushed, toasted pecans
- Make the dough. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar on high until combined. Reduce speed to low and beat in the egg and milk until just incorporated. Stir in the flour mixture and shredded cheese. Form into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least an hour.
- Preheat the oven to 350. Remove cookie dough from the plastic wrap and arrange on a floured pizza peel or a pastry slab. Sprinkle generously with flour and, using a rolling pin, roll the dough to a 1/2-inch thickness.
- Transfer crust to a baking sheet and bake until just turning golden at the edges, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. Meanwhile, combine cream cheese and brown sugar in a medium bowl; set aside.