Saturday, September 18, 2010

Caramel Apples

I was a little adventurous the evening before last, and decided to take on making Caramel Apples.  I have never done this before.. and decided that I was going to even be so grand as to MAKE my OWN caramel...  ha.  Let me also state I had approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes before I was to arrived at Friend Gathering with Special Out of State Guests with the dessert.  And, this is not the first time that I have thrown myself into a panic by baking something NEW and, generally out of my league, in the midst of crunch time. Sigh.  One day I will learn.  
My Caramel Apples were definitely an A for taste, but a B- for presentation and definitely a C- for wreck caused in kitchen during baking process.
The actual process of making caramel was fairly easy (I did plan ahead and buy a candy thermometer).. it was the process of dipping the apples that turned things quite messy.  I got this great recipe from 101 Cookbooks.  By the way, she's not joking about about getting the ice water into the pan of caramel.. ahem, my fiasco.

I suppose I was shooting for this sort of look {see below}.. This was the surprise my husband brought home from Whole Foods for me on our anniversary.  I can dream big, right?

Caramel Apple Recipe

Please be careful when making caramel apples, you will be working with dangerously hot, sticky, ingredients - I always put on an apron and make sure I have a closed-toed pair of shoes on when making candy. Be extra, extra careful if you have kids around. On the ingredient front, I typically go for a mild clover honey when making caramels.
6 - 8 small apples, unwaxed, cold
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup honey
Special equipment: candy thermometer, and lollipop sticks
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Push a lollipop or popsicle stick deep into each apple - in through the stem.
Fill a large bowl 1/2 full with ice water and set aside.
In a medium, thick-bottomed saucepan heat the cream and salt until tiny bubbles start forming where the milk touches the pan - just before a simmer. Stir in the honey. Bring the mixture to a boil. Now reduce the heat to an active simmer and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, for about 15-20 minutes minutes or until the mixture reaches about 255-260F degrees. To stop the caramel from cooking, very, very carefully set the bottom of the saucepan in the bowl of cold water you prepared earlier - taking special care not to get any of the water in the caramel mixture. Stir until caramel begins to thicken up - you want the caramel to be thin enough that it will easily coat your apples, but not so thin that it will run right off. If the caramel thickens too much simply put the pot back over the burner for 10 seconds or so to heat it up a bit.
I tilt my sauce pan so all the caramel forms a pool on one side, and use my other hand to dunk and twirl each apple until it is thoroughly coated with caramel. Place each apple on the parchment lined baking sheets and allow the caramel to cool and set.
Makes 6 - 8 caramel apples.

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