Fall ing for Apples

Fall ing for Apples

So many great changes come with fall. The weather starts to cool down, the leaves change color, a hint at the holidays appears all around us at grocery stores and malls. We start reconnecting with family and friends and marinate in the memories of the past, good and bad, and dwell on the promise of the future. It’s a time of change that stirs our soul and challenges us to reflect back upon the year and start planning for the future. “What are we grateful for?”, “what and who are we thankful for?”, and “what’s next in our life journey?” are questions we may ask.

Change is not always easy, but it is something we can always count on as we press on and explore the next few months of the year.  It’s times like these that we need to remind ourselves of the simple and seasonal pleasures in life.  With all the stress and chaos of the holiday’s, it is familiar foods that can bring us comfort and joy. Apples can be found year round, but it is in fall when they peak our interest most. Apple cider, apple pie and caramel apples come to mind.

Home made decadent caramel apples are so much better than anything store bought, and a perfect way to get ready for fall. Be creative, inventive and whimsical as you craft your own culinary delight with this forbidden fruit.  Below I share my favorite flavors, tips and tricks for perfectly Styled|Delicious apples.

Plan your flavor combinations in advance.  I chose, Pistachio Dark Chocolate Toffee, Dark Chocolate and Hazelnut, Brown Sugar Pop Tart (tastes like apple pie), Mini Oreo Cookies, and Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups. Since, I made five different flavors, one package of product was sufficient.  Small pieces are easier to work with, although I admit I like the big chunks and they also photograph well. : ) See the tips section below on how to manage larger pieces.

Shooting Caramel Apples v1

 

Styled|Delicious Apples

Components

Assorted candies and toppings, chopped or finely diced

Dark or milk chocolate melted, to Drizzle

8 to 10 Granny Smith Apples (small to medium)

Apple Sticks , cleaned and trimmed (See tips below)

1 Stick, or ½ cup of Unsalted Butter, melted (extra butter needed to grease the wax paper)

1 Cup Light Corn Syrup (You can use a simple syrup (½  water, ½ sugar), but you risk sugar crystals)

2 Cups of Dark or light Brown Sugar (I used 1/2 Dark & 1/2 Light)

1 14 oz can of Sweetened Condensed Milk (They have organic brands)

1/8 teaspoon of Kosher Salt

½ teaspoon of vanilla extract or whole beans (I like whole bean, but you will have specs in the caramel sauce)

1 teaspoon of whiskey, cognac or bourbon (Optional)

 

Step  1Organize Toppings

Get all the topping separated in bowls or containers. Place in airtight containers. Reserve.

Caramel Apple Misc

Step 2Prepare Apples

Spear each apple with your decorative sticks. If using a natural stick, trim the end that will go into the apple by removing the bark or outer layer. Boil water and remove from heat. Let the water cool slightly and dip each apple to remove any wax or residue.  If the water is too hot (till boiling), you will cook the apple skin, turning it a greenish gray. It’s still edible, but looks unappealing. Dry completely and reserve

Step 4Prepare to Dip & Coat

Line a cookie sheet or two with wax paper and coat heavily with butter.  I like to make some room in the refrigerator at this time to chill the covered, dipped and coated apples on the sheet trays.

Step  5Make Caramel Sauce

Melt butter in saucepan and then add sugar, corn syrup and salt. Cook at medium heat, stirring constantly until a full boil is reached. (Make it easy – use a heavy bottom saucepan that will allow for the caramel to rise 3 inches while cooking and will also fit a fully submerged apple into the caramel).

Add in sweetened condensed milk.  Bring the mixture to 240 F to 242 F stirring constantly. Use a candy thermometer to check temp. Be sure not to rest the thermometer on the bottom of the pot, or you will get a false reading. The caramel will continue to cook once removed from the heat. Add in the liquor. The final desired temp is 245 F, but any carry over cooking may put the caramel past the firm ball stage, making it difficult to work with. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.

Step 6 –  Dipping & Coating Apples

Carefully dip the apples into the caramel and use a spoon to help coat.  The apple will stay fresh longer if you coat the whole apple and part of the stick. Work two apples at a time.  Use an offset spatula to remove excess caramel from the bottom of the apple and let caramel coating drip.  Place coated apple on buttered wax paper. Add topping quickly before caramel sets. If you can have somebody dipping and somebody coating the apples with toppings, you will end up with a much better looking final product. It takes some finesse to get the right balance between coating with the yummy toppings and perfecting the caramel dip. Once dipped, spoon over toppings and coat while turning the apple. For larger pieces, place dipped apple on buttered wax paper and use some tweezers to add in your larger toppings.

TIPS FOR SUCCESS

  • Get your toppings prepared the day before.  Slice, chop, or dice your ingredients keeping your final product in mind. Big chucks are nice and look great, but should still be bite size.
  • Melt chocolate drizzle after all your apples are coated and set. Decorate by using a squeeze bottle filled with slightly warm chocolate or the spoon technique. Drizzle over the top.
  • If you are making decorative cut outs from pop tarts, make the night before and store in an airtight container. Think leaves, Christmas trees, bats, pumpkins, anything festive for the occasion.
  • Add additional spices to create unique flavors to the caramel or chocolate drizzle.  I like pumpkin pie spice to go with the brown sugar pop tarts. It tastes like apple pie.
  • Hot caramel and chocolate treats are tricky to marry.  Place chocolate in the freezer till cold before adding to your dipped caramel apple.  This will prevent some melting and sliding.
  • The dip and roll method only works for small crushed pieces.  Larger toppings need to be placed delicately with fingers, with a cupped hand or tweezers. First place dipped apples on buttered wax paper. Wear a food safe latex glove if desired or use tweezers to place the toppings. Hot sticky caramel is painful. There is nothing stylish or delicious about blisters.
  • Cut and serve apple pieces that have large toppings.  It’s much easier to eat if sliced.
  • Pet food stores and on-line retailers carry apple and willow sticks that are non-toxic and pesticide free for bunnies and other animals.  Wash and dry the sticks and trim the end that goes into the apple. It will save you from crawling up a tree. Any thick skewer will also work.
  • Short on time. Don’t make it. Make it happen. Buy the caramel squares or bits, follow the package directions and add some spice to spruce it up. Buy dessert and ice cream toppers with unique flavors. Jem Sweet is a good Product.

Enjoy!

Caramel Hazelnut Chocolate Apple

Caramel Pistachio Toffee Apple

Caramel Peanut Butter Cup AppleCaramel Apple Pie Apple

Caramel Apple with Oreos

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