Thursday, October 29, 2009

Caramel Covered Apps

cArAmEl ApPlEs.

For me, the true essence of Halloween, Autumn, and the air turning chilly.

Plus I just really like to get caramel stuck in my teeth so I have a little something-something in my mouth to work on all day long.

My grandma W (*story time*) has left many legacies-- kindness, compassion, sweetness, loyalty, and in food terms, Jell-O concoctions and these delicious fruit confectioneries. Each year she valiantly took a plate of freshly dipped caramel apples to all of her 8 children, with enough on for their children.... I loved it. I looked forward to it, expected it, and relished in the simple but very cherished tradition she was indulging us in, year after year after year.

Caramel apples, in other words, have seen me through drama on the elementary school playground, my first experience with a locker along with 8th grade woes, high school activities and immaturities, college boyfriend break ups, U of U football games, and even my socially awkward and taciturn returned missionary phase.

And so, these treats are one October tradition I hope to maintain, as well as continually pass on. It's as important to me as college football viewing is to my man. See? Traditions..

My mom was kind enough to stop in Philly for a few days and among other mother-daughter-son fun-ness, we made my grandma's recipe late last night... It is delicious, completely homemade, tricky, and sticky.

I hope to walk you clearly through it so the caramel is neither TOO hard nor too runny. Must say, it was tremendously helpful to have my mom standing over my shoulder, coaching me through the different stages of caramel. May I suggest, if you're a tyro like I am, grab yourself an experienced caramel vet before proceeding independently.

(image: washed apples and thickened, cooled caramel sauce finale!)

(above image, left to right: stirring evaporated milk in, mixture coming to a soft ball stage, removing caramel and allowing it to rest)

Caramel Apples

2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cans evaporated milk
2 cups light corn syrup
4 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla
15 (approx) medium apples (I like granny smith's for this purpose) and craft sticks,
apples washed and dried

In a LARGE saucepan, melt butter, corn syrup and sugar over medium high heat. Bring this to a boil, stirring constantly, and cook until it gains some thickness and becomes syrupy. Gradually add evaporated milk-- in a SLOW but steady stream, stirring all the while still! Keep the mixture boiling and once the mixture begins to turn to a light golden amber, do the soft ball test:

In a little cup filled with cold water, pour a little bit of caramel mixture into it-- if you are able to form a "soft" ball-like shape, then you've reached the soft ball stage. Keep stirring the boiling mixture.

You want the mixture to come to a firm ball stage, but once the mixture has reached a soft ball stage, it will quickly transition to the firm ball stage, in a matter of just a few minutes. You will want to remove the mixture from the heat, set it on your counter atop a hot pad, and let it cool for a few minutes (it will continue to cook). Be sure to remove the mixture before it turns too dark amber-- you're not making peanut brittle here!

Meanwhile, working quickly, cover a few cookie sheets with foil or wax paper, and grease each surface with butter.

Once it's cooled for a few minutes and is nice and thick and dark amber, begin dipping apples (make sure each apple has a stick down its center). Place each apple on prepared cookie sheets and allow to rest. Best eaten before two or three days have passed.

And if you really want to get fancy (my ol pals and I did this a couple years ago), once the dipped apples have cooled, melt some white chocolate and dip the caramel apples into it, and then roll into crushed butterfinger, cinnamon sugar, crushed oreos, see what I mean by fancy??

If you have leftover caramel, wrap in squares of wax paper and make yourself merry!

*Oh, and if you have youngens running around your house, I deeply urge you to forgo this recipe attempt until they are all slumbering.. It requires your FULL attention. Not t
o mention a hot bubbling pot is not safe with young and precious toddlers exploring the kitchen.

1 comment:

The Rich Family said...

loved hearing the memories and the story of making your caramel apples. I think so many of us have carried on this tradition. I love seeing your recipes and trying them too. Love, Melissa