Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Caramel Apples!!

You can tell autumn is coming when the price of apples starts to drop.  Though they won’t hit their lowest prices until winter, you can still find some great sale prices.  Of course, you would want to eat most of those delicious apples plain—that’s how they’re healthiest.  But it is okay to sweeten them up a bit every now and then.

With Halloween right around the corner, I thought it would be fun to make caramel apples with orange coating.  I think this is what my neighbors are going to be getting in their trick-or-treat bags, at least the neighbors I know personally.  I really wish our society was such that I could hand out homemade candy to everyone.

Anyway, there are a few ways to go about making caramel apples.  The most common (and fastest) way is to buy caramels at the store and melt them down with some milk.  If you’re interested in making caramel apples this way, you can find Paula Deen’s recipe here.  I can’t vouch for it, though to make sure you get it right, be sure to read the recipe and directions with a Southern drawl.

The way I choose to make caramel apples is from scratch.  Caramel is basically a lot of sugar, a lot of fat, and a little flavoring.  The ingredients are simple, but combined and cooked properly, the result is decadently delicious.

The key to making successful caramel is to cook it to the correct temperature.  Basically, the higher the temperature the sugar reaches, the thicker or harder it will be once it cools to room temperature.  To successfully coat apples, the ingredients must reach 244° but not go over 246°.  Because accuracy is essential, be sure to use a thermometer.  You can buy a candy thermometer which clips to the side of your pot.  I use my probe thermometer so it will alert me when the correct temperature is reached.  Regardless of what type of thermometer you use, be sure it is not resting on the bottom or against the side of the pot.

To keep my probe off the bottom of the the pot, I
hang the wire over my cupboard knob.

When choosing a pot, pick one that is a lot bigger than you think you need.  The sugar will bubble up as it cooks.  I use a three-quart pot for the recipe below.

For sticks, I use the wooden dowels that I use to stack tiered cakes.  They are made by Wilton and are available at Michael’s.  I just use pruning sheers to cut them to the desired length.

Caramel Apples
6 medium apples, stems removed
6 wooden dowels
1 c. sugar
1 c. dark corn syrup
½ c. (1 stick) butter
1 c. cream
¼ tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
Nuts, chopped (optional)
Chocolate, melted (optional)
White chocolate, melted (optional)

Line a jelly roll pan with parchment.  Wash and dry apples.  Insert dowel in each apple and place on jelly roll pan.  Store apples in refrigerator until ready.

Place sugar, corn syrup, butter, cream, salt, and vanilla in large pot.  Cook over medium-high heat until caramel reaches 244°-246°.  There is no need to stir, just let it go.

Once the target temperature is reached, turn off the heat and let caramel cool to about 220°.  Twirl apples in caramel and place on pan.

Roll in chopped nuts if desired.  Place in fridge to cool caramel quickly.  If adding chocolate, place melted chocolate in piping bag or zip-top bag with corner cut off.  Drizzle over apple while turning.

Sorry there's no photo of the process.  I just can't turn the
apple, pipe the chocolate, and take a picture at the same time.

Be creative with your drizzle!

Place in fridge to harden.  Store caramel apples in refrigerator.  Remove from fridge about 1 hour before eating.

I added orange gel coloring to white chocolate to make
these apples more festive.

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