Thursday, October 21, 2010

Fun with Fall- Caramel Apples!

We have so many great ways to celebrate the Fall. There are the famous Oktoberfest, Halloween and Thanksgiving holidays. But, don't forget about the Harvest. There are plenty of great fruits & veggies in season now and we've got apples on the brain. Find your local orchard and go pick some apples. Just don't do what we did and pick 30 pounds worth. That's a lotta applesauce!

One of our missions at FoodPair is make cooking and food fun. One great way to do that is to combine a field trip, in this case apple picking, with a fun recipe, the Caramel Apple (check out this version from Simply Recipes).

Alright, let's get to it:

1. Pick a nice, firm apple like the Granny Smith

Whether you head to the orchard or supermarket, make sure to grab some firm & tasty apples that will hold up to some cooking and storage (because you shouldn't eat all those caramel apples in one sitting!).

2. Prep those apples

Next, you'll need to get the apples ready for caramel-ization. First, you'll need to wash and clean the apples by removing the stems. Next, dry them thoroughly. Finally, push a stick into the top where the stem was. We like using wooden chopsticks or popsicle sticks.

3. Make your caramel

The key tool for making great caramel is a candy thermometer. Run out and grab one because it'll help ensure precision, which is what you need when making desserts. Following the recipe, you'll combine sugar, butter, condensed milk, corn syrup, maple syrup, vanilla, molasses and salt in a saucepan. Keep stirring at medium-low heat until the sugar dissolves. Make sure to brush any sugar crystals that form on the sides of the pan back into the caramel. And, make sure it's smooth by rubbing some between your fingers.

4. Watch those temperatures!

Cook the caramel mixture until it gets to 236 degrees. Wow, that's precise! Then, pour it into a metal bowl and let it cool until it hits 200 degrees.

4. Dip, Cool and Decorate!

Once the mixture hits 200 degrees, grab those apples-on-sticks and give them a nice bath. Then, let them sit on a greased baking sheet or foil-lined pan and chill in the fridge for 15 minutes. After they've had time to relax in the hot caramel bath and cool in the fridge, it's time to decorate. Go nuts with some chocolate, sprinkles, or nuts!

Have other favorite caramel apple tips or toppings? Post them in the comments section!