Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Harvest Projects:

Friday night we are having a harvest pumkin carving party, and so tomorrow afternoon I am going to make this recipe with the apples Sharon & Eldon grew:

(Recipe compliments of 101 Cookbooks)

Caramel Apples Recipe

October 15, 2008 | 97 Comments

Placerville, California is apple country. This time of year, apple farms line nearby country roads and all manner of apple products are sold - apple pies, dumplings, fritter, ciders, doughnuts, sauces, cookies, and of course...caramel apples. On our drive from San Francisco to Lake Tahoe last weekend Wayne, Jennifer, and I pulled over in Placerville to have a picnic lunch at one of the local wineries nestled in the Sierra foothills. On our round-about way back to the highway we also visited a couple of the local apple-centric attractions. It was just the reminder I needed. For years I've wanted to do a new caramel apple recipe for my site. I thought I might be able to do a version using apples, honey, cream, and salt. That's it. No white sugar, no corn syrup, and no melting of Kraft caramel squares.

Caramel Apple Recipe

I also wanted to avoid a few of the caramel apple pitfalls that have tripped me up in the past. For example, I needed the caramel to stay on the apple. Lots of people, myself included, have had trouble with caramel not setting on their apples. I decided to use the technique I use to make my favorite caramels - the honey-sweetened caramel gives the apples a beautiful, opaque, golden coat and tastes rich, chewy, and decadent.


A few things you should know before you start. You need a candy thermometer. I have one from Whole Foods Market that cost me about $4 - works fine. But I'm going to admit, this time around I used my infrared thermometer gun. Either way, a thermometer is important because the key to this caramel recipe is achieving a good set, you want your caramel to be able to hold a shape once it cools. To make this happen you need to heat the ingredients to a very specific temperature. I know it all sounds precise and fussy, and to a certain extent it is, but really all you're doing here is putting a very short list of ingredients together in a pot, and bringing the temperature up, up, up into what is considered "hard ball" territory 255F - 260F degrees. If you don't heat the caramel enough, it will likely run off the apple, but alternately if you go too hot the caramel will be difficult to bite into, and will have more of a tendency to peel off the apple.

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.


And again from 101 Cookbooks, I am going to make this with our sweet pumpkin guts:


Toasted Pumpkin Seeds: Three Ways

Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

There are a couple of ways to go about toasting pumpkin seeds. I should mention, that in addition to the way I make them, there is also an extended cooking technique as well. If you have more time and patience, you can boil the seeds in salted water for roughly 10 minutes before draining and proceeding with the rest of the instructions (scale back on the salt called for in the individual recipes). Your seeds will have a nice crunch to them, and more balanced salt distribution. That being said, I usually skip this step (particularly if I'm at a pumpkin carving party and people are excited about sampling the seeds of their labor). If you're interested in this approach, be sure to check out Elise's Simply Recipes site if you want the play-by-play on this method.

Sweet & Spicy Pumpkin Seeds

1 egg white
1/4 cup natural cane sugar
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
scant 1/2 teaspoon fine grained sea salt
1 cup fresh pumpkin seeds

Preheat oven to 375. In a medium-sized bowl whisk together the egg white, sugar, cayenne and salt. Add the pumpkin seeds and toss well. Drain off any excess egg white (using a strainer) and place seeds in a single layer across a baking sheet. Bake for about 12 minutes or until seeds are golden. Sprinkle with a bit more sugar and cayenne pepper when they come out of the oven. Taste and season with more salt if needed.

Makes one cup.

Curried Pumpkin Seeds

1 egg white
2 teaspoon curry powder
scant 1/2 teaspoon fine grained sea salt
1 cup fresh pumpkin seeds

Preheat oven to 375.

In a medium-sized bowl whisk together the egg white, curry powder and salt. Add the pumpkin seeds and toss well. Drain off any excess egg white (using a strainer) and place seeds in a single layer across a baking sheet. Bake for about 12 minutes or until seeds are golden. Sprinkle with a bit more curry powder when they come out of the oven. Taste and season with more salt if needed.

Makes one cup.


I will let you know how these turn out!!

2 comments:

Rachael Thomas said...

darn the curry pumpkin seed sounds so good... I just carved pumpkins yesterday and I threw out alll of the seeds and guts, cause I didn't know how to do any of this... oh well..

Allison said...

YUM! Toasted pumpkin seeds are so good! Have a fun time carving pumpkins!