Thursday, October 18, 2012

Salted Caramel Apples

While Jared is preoccupied with all of his opening days of hunting, I also get excited about this time of year. The weather finally turns cool and crisp - perfect for gumbos, football season is in full swing, the holidays are right around the corner, and it's apple picking season in the mid-Atlantic region!
We spent Sunday afternoon out in Maryland at Larriland Farms, enjoying the gorgeous weather and hauling in a ridiculous amount of freshly-picked apples. Staymans, Braeburns, Fujis and Suncrisps, to be exact. 
While this isn't exactly something I grew up doing in south Louisiana, the New England Motts are well-versed in this fall activity. And they have a number of tasty recipes to help utilize the loot (some of those to come soon).
But for now, I'll stick with something I know and love: caramel apples. They are a sweet and gooey mess of a dessert that always make me feel a little warm and fuzzy inside . . . as long as I don't manage to burn myself on the molten candy lava. But I decided to mix things up a little bit with a slightly sophisticated twist, using a recipe for salted caramel that brings out the sweetness of both the apples and the candy with just a hint of savory. 
If you're weary of homemade candies or are down a candy thermometer, you can always opt for a bag of caramel squares. Just be sure to add about 1/4 cup of water and a teaspoon of fine sea salt when you melt the candies to have the same sort of effect. 

  • 8-10 whole apples, small or medium in size
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • special equipment: 8-10 wooden skewers or chopsticks and a candy thermometer

  1. Line a baking sheet with wax paper. Coat with a light layer of non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. Make sure all of the apples are cleaned, dried and stemmed.
  3. Insert a wooden skewer or chopstick into the top end of each apple. Set aside.
  4. In a deep saucepan, combine the water, sugar, and corn syrup. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  5. Cook until the mixture is a warm golden brown, swirling (not stirring) occasionally.
  6. In a small pot, bring the cream, butter, and 1 teaspoon of fine sea salt to a simmer over medium heat. Turn off the heat and set aside.
  7. When the sugar mixture is a warm golden brown, turn off the heat and slowly add the cream mixture. Beware: it will bubble up violently.
  8. Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon and cook over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes, until the mixture reaches 248 degrees F on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat.
  9. While the caramel is hot, dip the apples in, twirling to coat evenly.
  10. Let the excess caramel drip off. Sprinkle with another pinch of sea salt. 
  11. Place the apples on the lined baking sheet.
  12. Place in the refrigerator to harden, about 1 hour.
   * Caramel recipe is adapted from Ina Garten's Fleur de Sel Caramels.

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