Friday, October 28, 2011
Frankenapples and the Absence of Fall
"You know, I've never had a caramel apple" were the words that came out of the mouth of the other half of me when I was in the kitchen working on the caramel. I was floored. I mean, he's American. I'm the foreign one! Two of his four favorite things are candy and fruit! How could he possibly have gone twenty nine years and never had a caramel apple?
It's lucky that I was already making them, else I would have probably dropped everything and headed straight to the kitchen.
Caramel apples are very... Fall.... to me. In this town, where it's still often in the high eighties, Fall continues to elude me. So I'm wearing lots of brown, I'm perusing through fall time recipes, I'm knitting again and yesterday I made caramel apples as a treat.
I have a vague memory of being a child and eating a red caramel apple in the dark at a fair or a bonfire night, or something like that. It's one of those vague memories where you aren't sure if it really happened to you, or if you just read about it or saw it on TV and it became lodged in your brain until you made it yours. I have a lot of little memories like that.
I've seen so many Caramel Apple recipes flooding blogs that it feels odd to post another one, but I wanted to post one that was very very simple, with ingredients that I had on hand. Nothing fancy, just good old caramel apples. I think the fact that these are challenging to eat is another reason that I like them so much. You have to work through the caramel to get to the apple. The way I explained it yesterday, you're burning off some of the calories that you are eating. Of course, thats probably not the best way to look at it, but whatever I need to justify eating caramel at 10:30pm.
One of the things that I love about Caramel Apples is that they don't have to be just caramel. You can coat them with whatever other toppings you like. You can roll them in nuts, candy, chocolate, coconut and anything else that you can think of. For me, I made myself four big sturdy caramel apples. Two were just caramel, one was then rolled in crushed pecans and another in chocolate chips. For me, I love it when they don't come out perfectly. I love when they are what I mismatched.... when they are Frankenapples.
I love using Granny Smiths for these. They are nice and big and they have a great tart flavor to counter the sweetness of the caramel. I use chopsticks to skewer the apples. I have several nice reusable ones, but you can always use leftover chinese take out chopsticks. When you get to the part where you are rolling the apples in caramel, work really really quickly because it will set hard quickly. You can keep the bowl of caramel over a double boiler to keep it warm, but I find it kind of fun to race it.
4 Granny Smith Apples, skewered through
1 Cup Sugar
1/4 Cup Light Corn Syrup
1/4 Cup Water
1 Cup Half and Half (I used a mixture of milk and heavy cream)
2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
Put a baking sheet in the fridge. Over medium heat, mix the sugar, corn syrup and water in a pan. Stir until it has dissolved, and then let it boil in the pan without stirring for ten minutes. The secret to caramel is to not stir it. Mix the half and half, salt and vanilla together. After the caramel has boiled for ten minutes, take it off the heat and pour the half and half mixture slowly into it, stirring well. Once it is all combined, put it back on the heat and let it simmer for forty five minutes, stirring often. Once the time is up, the caramel will be a rich brown color and it will be much thicker than it started.
Get your apples ready. Whatever extra toppings you have, set them in shallow bowls so that you can roll the apples in them quickly. Cover the chilled baking sheet with wax or parchment paper so that you can set the apples down.
Dip the apples in the caramel, roll them in your extra topping if you like, then set on the baking sheet. Once you've rolled all your apples, let them chill in the fridge for an hour to make sure the caramel is completely set.
Additional toppings that I recommend are pecans, walnuts, almonds, coconut, sea salt, M&M's, chocolate chips and melted dark chocolate.
Makes Four big apples.