I must be a little nostalgic in this post as it was my son’s 2nd (and golden) birthday on December 2nd. He had a big food-holiday on his birthday complete with Grandpa (Bobo) and Tanna (Nanna or Danna) bringing donuts and chocolate milk for breakfast. Lunch was boring and normal but for dinner I made a farmer’s meal of beef and noodles, mashed potatoes, corn and a chocolate cake with raspberry filling and chocolate swiss meringue buttercream that literally changed my life. I will dedicate a post to that frosting because it will change your life. Forever. You will never (or less frequently) desire the traditional American Buttercream you grew up with. The stuff that can be cloyingly sweet, thick, pasty etc.
Back to my adorable son. I’m sitting here writing my blog post at 10 p.m. with the 11 foot Christmas tree twinkling, thinking back to two years ago when I was rocking that cute little baby sitting in front of the lights of the Christmas tree. It was my dream to be able to do that because I had always heard my Mom talk about rocking me (born on 12/8) in front of their Christmas tree while I stared at those twinkling lights. I loved that time with my son. I miss those times. I’m so thankful for him, he’s such a little Mama’s boy sometimes. ***I interrupt you to bring a special report. He is awake! (It is 10:30 p.m.!0 Silly kid, talk about some timing! He is sitting up with me as I write this. This is crazy, and he’s definitely not enjoying it at all. Multi-tasking at the moment is like having 5 pissed off cats in a burlap sack on my lap. I’ll be taking a break to rock him, I love it.
Here’s a throwback photo from ‘those days’, even though it seems like yesterday it was 2 years ago that I sat in that chair with that tiny (well, maybe not tiny for a newborn) little guy in my lap. My husband had gotten me a gift that Christmas and set the photo to look like my son was giving it to me. I’m always a fan when someone takes the time to seize the photo opportunity for me (as anyone who owns ‘the camera’ knows… you rarely have pictures of yourself unless you ask them to be taken of you– awkward!). I’ll forever be grateful for this little gem. (The photo and the chubby baby.)
Ahhhhhh my little ‘heater boy’ is sprawled out across my lap and all is calm. We can proceed with the recipe of utmost importance! Since not one single person can make a bigger mess out of a caramel apple than the birthday boy, it is only fitting to share:
Caramel Apples “unwrapped”…
I wanted to shed some light this evening on perhaps my all-time most beloved treat that I enjoy having any time of the year and only feel 50% guilty about. The fabulous pillar of carnival food health… the caramel apple. When done right… the good old fashioned way (it is certainly easier than you think) these things are sublime. I won’t criticize you for unwrapping those nifty caramels you can get at the grocery store to make these but I promise if you try this recipe you will never be bothered by fiddling with the annoying sticky flimsy plastic on those caramel blocks ever again!
*This recipe needs happy helpers but be advised, they should not be near the stove top when you are working with hot sugar of course! Chopping nuts and putting the lollipop sticks into the apples is plenty for the wee-ones to do!
Classic Caramel Apples
8 lollipop sticks
8 apples, any variety, stems removed *If you remember!
1 1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup light corn syrup
4 TBSP butter (salted)
1 C Dry Roasted Salted Peanuts, chopped coarsely
Insert sticks into tops of apples. Set aside. Bring cream, sugar, corn syrup, and butter to a boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Swirl the mixture frequently and cook until mixture reaches 243 degrees, 10 to 12 minutes. (I use my Thermapen instant read thermometer to keep track of the climbing temperature, you may also clip a candy thermometer to the side of the saucepan.) Dip the apples in the caramel, carefully twisting the apple around to coat as much of the apple that is desired. Roll in peanuts. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet and let rest until caramel is set (10 minutes). Enjoy!
*My apple varieties of choice change by the season. I am a fan of anything grown in Iowa of course, my favorite variety of the summer was the “Cortland” apple. “Honeycrisp” is always great in the fall and “Harralson” is another great one. My suggestion is to be sure the apple you choose has some tart qualities so the sweetness of the caramel is offset by the brightness of the flavor of the apple. Have fun!