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Makes one 9-inch pie
Lior Lev Sercarz, from "Mastering Spice"
1 teaspoon anise (3 grams)
2 teaspoons Sichuan peppercorns (3 grams)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, preferably Vietnamese (3 grams)
1 teaspoon sumac (3 grams)
Finely grind the anise and the peppercorns together and immediately mix with the cinnamon and sumac.
4 tablespoons salted butter (56 grams), diced
1⁄2 cup confectioners’ sugar (64 grams)
1⁄4 cup packed light brown sugar (50 grams)
1⁄4 cup slivered almonds (29 grams)
1⁄2 cup all-purpose flour (67 grams)
1⁄3 cup Calvados (75 grams)
2 tablespoons honey
4 large Honeycrisp or Fuji apples, peeled and cut into 1-inch wedges
1 tablespoon salted butter (15 grams)
1/2 cup raisins, divided
To make the topping: Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper.
Combine the butter, confectioners’ sugar, and brown sugar in a large bowl. Squeeze and mix with your fingers until well blended and only a few streaks of confectioners’ sugar remain. Add the almonds and half the spice blend. Mix and squeeze with your hands until evenly incorporated. Add the flour and keep squeezing and pinching until the flour is incorporated and the mixture forms almond-size chunks with coarse crumbs.
use your fingers to press three-quarters of the crisp mixture into the bottom and up the sides of the pie dish to the rim. Reserve the remaining quarter of the crisp mixture in a small bowl and cover. Refrigerate both until ready to use.
Combine honey and the remaining main spice blend (what you didn’t use in the topping) in a deep 9-inch skillet. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring, and add apples. Stir until the apples are evenly coated with the honey mixture.
Add butter and stir until melted. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the apples are golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add Calvados and raise the heat to high, and boil, stirring, until all the liquid has evaporated, about 2 minutes (or flambé the Calvados instead: just tilt the skillet toward the flame so that the alcohol catches fire and let it burn until the flames subside). Cool completely.
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Scatter 1/4 cup raisins over the chilled crust. Arrange the apples over the raisins in an even layer and top with another 1⁄4 cup raisins. Scatter the reserved crisp mixture over the apple mixture. Bake until the crust and topping are golden brown and the apples are tender, about 35 minutes. Cool completely and serve.