25 October, 2009

Uncles are Evil

I'm not sure that the guy who invented caramel apples had kids.  I bet he was an uncle, not a dad. He took evil pleasure in feeding his nieces and nephews sugar on a stick - under the guise of a healthy apple - then sending them home to Mommy and Daddy all jacked up. Mr. Dan Walker, a sales rep from Kraft is the man credited with introducing the caramel apple to the mass market. Someone out there do a geneology search on him and see if he had kids, will ya?

Personally, my first caramel apple was only enjoyed recently because my mom refused to let us have them as kids.  At least this is what I remember, she may argue differently.  It may have been the profusion of sweetness or the gooey mess, but I can tell you that I felt deprived.  I'm over it now, only because I now know how to make my own caramel apples.

There are two ways to go about it.  You can use the brand name kits or buy a bag of premade caramels and melt them.  Or you can make the caramel yourself.  Really, it isn't hard, only 4 ingredients, plus the apples. You do need a candy thermometer, but a basic one can be picked up at the grocery store. Your homemade caramel will also have a much richer flavour and a darker colour.

The alternative to making caramel apples is to make a caramel dipping sauce for apples, brownies, bananas, ice cream, and pretty much anything else that is only better with melted sugar on it.  So, that means pretty much everything. Making a caramel sauce is even easier, taking only three ingredients and not requiring anything but a good pot.

While I generally welcome the girls, ages 1 and 3, into the kitchen regardless of what I'm cooking, this was a task I saved for naptime.  Caramel is liquid sugar.  It is ridiculously hot and can burn.  And my youngest has an innate ability to stand right behind you without you knowing. With me making caramel she really would be living up to her nickname of Death Wish. So I boiled my caramel, cleaned and dried my apples, prepared some yummy toppings, then got to dipping.  By the time naptime was over the girls had a treat to take them through an extra long trip to the park.

Caramel Apples
(6-8 apples)

6-8 apples
2 cups brown sugar
1 3/4 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp butter
1/2 c corn syrup

Special Equipment:
  • candy thermometer
  • bamboo skewers, popsicle sticks, or chopsticks
  • parchment paper or Silpat

1. Wash and clean apples.  If they are supermarket apples wash in hot water and wipe well to ensure that all wax is removed.  Dry thoroughly, very thoroughly.  Insert a stick into the core of each apple.  Set aside.

2. Line a baking sheet with parchment rubbed with butter or a Silpat mat.  Set aside.

3. Fill a large bowl with ice water.  It should be big enough to safely hold the pot with the caramel mixture .  Set aside.

4. Combine all ingredients (save for apples) in a saucepan at least 3 times the size of the mixture.  Set on medium to high heat with the thermometer in the mixture.  Cook until the temperature reaches 235-240 degrees F, approximately 10-15 minutes.  As soon as it reaches temperature remove the pot from the heat and immerse the bottom of the pot in the bowl of ice water to cool.  Stir and cool until the temperature measure 200 degrees F.  DO NOT GET ANY WATER IN THE CARAMEL.

5. Dip your apples, one at a time, in the caramel.  Twirl the apples to coat, then lift and twirl for 10-15 seconds letting the excess caramel drip off.  Hold upright and repeat 10-15 seconds of twirling. Place on prepared cookie sheet to cool.

6. If desired, once the caramel has cooled for a minute or two dip in topping of choice.

Topping suggestions:
  • Chopped nuts
  • Toasted sesame seeds
  • Crushed pretzels
  • Dried fruit
  • Toffee bits
  • Crumbled, cooked bacon
  • Candy sprinkles
  • Crushed Gingersnaps

Caramel Dipping Sauce
(makes approximately 2 cups)

1 cup sugar
4 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream

1. In a medium saucepan melt sugar, swirling pan frequently, until amber in colour.  There is no need to whisk or stir, just lift the pan and swirl the sugar until it is all melted and amber.

2. Cut butter into small chunks.  Lift pot off burner and add in butter.  Whisk to combine and return to heat until butter is melted and caramel is smooth.

3.  Slowly add cream.  Mixture will bubble and thicken.  Continue to whisk until soft and smooth.  Remove from heat.

4.  Once cool, store in a glass jar until ready to use.  Keeps for 1-2 weeks in the fridge or 3-4 months in the freezer.  Serve as a dip for fruit, an ice cream topping, or on cake.

For those of you joining me from Breakfast Television, if you are also looking for the salted caramel ice cream recipe you can find it here. Print it now, before they shut down the site.

And for those of you interested in seeing my appearance on BT, you can find it here. Yes, I did indeed use bacon as a topping and it was delicious!


Charmian @ Christie's Corner said...

Thanks for posting the link to your TV appearance. You did a great job! Loved all the topping you can dip the caramel apples into -- I'd be the crushed ginger cookies! Andrew? He's all into the bacon.

Aimée said...

I've got to make these soon. I had a love affair with caramel apples a few years back and decided to give my teeth a break for a while, but it's time to bring them back. Don't think either of the boys has every had one.

Going to watch your clip now--it this a regular thing now, Cheryl? That's so cool!

A Canadian Foodie said...

Hi, Cheryl!
I loved your apples. YUM. Well, vicariously. Do you know about Slow Food Edmonton? Are you familiar with the philosophy? Check it out, and get back to me. I am trying to recruit local foodies as we need to expand our membership. We do Indulgence every June, and much, much more.