1. Combine flour and salt in a large bowl. Cut in butter using a pastry blender or fork or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal with pea-sized pieces of butter. Gradually add milk until mixture is just combined; it should stick together when pinched.
2. Turn the dough out onto a work surface, divide in half, and shape each portion into a disc. Wrap each disc in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together cornstarch and apple juice; reserve.
4. Melt butter and sugar in a large pot over medium-high heat; stir until sugar dissolves, 7 to 8 minutes. Continue to cook until sugar caramelizes; add the apples. Caramel will seizeŚcontinue to stir until it melts again; add the almond liqueur if using. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the apples soften, another 8 to 10 minutes.
5. Add cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, vanilla and cornstarch mixture. Stir constantly and cook until mixture thickens, 2 to 3 minutes. Let cool.
6. Position rack at bottom third of oven and preheat to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove dough from refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes. Cut each round into quarters and gently pat into discs. On a lightly floured work surface, roll each disc into a 7-inch round about 1/8-inch thick; place 4 of the discs into 5-inch pie plates and press down to line the bottom and sides of dish. Lay the remaining 4 between plastic wrap and reserve in refrigerator.
7. Divide the cooled filling into the 4 plates and top each with a round of reserved dough. Trim excess dough, leaving Ż-inch overhang, tuck under, and flute edges. Cut 5 small vents in the top of each.
8. Brush a thin layer of egg over the top of each pie and sprinkle with sugar.
9. Bake 20 to 30 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Serve cool or warm with Bourbon Caramel topping (recipe follows) and whipped cream.
Bourbon Caramel Topping:
1. Combine cream and bourbon in a small pot and bring to a simmer. Keep warm but not boiling until sugar is ready.
2. In a medium-size pot, bring water, sugar, and vanilla to boil. Continue boiling until sugar caramelizes and turns a dark amber color, 20 to 30 minutes.
3. Slowly whisk in cream. This will cause sugar to bubble up (be very careful, as mixture is extremely hot). If sugar seizes, place back on stove and whisk constantly until sugar melts and is smooth. Strain through a sieve and cool. Stir before use.
(As seen in Martha Stewart Living).