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Baked Apples with Apple Caramel

On a cool, fall day, nothing beats the aroma of cinnamon and apples baking.  In fact, sometimes I just place some apple peels, a cinnamon stick and some lemon on the stove in a bit of water to simmer – just so the house smells wonderful (fewer calories that way too)!  After a trip to a local farm, I decided to make baked apples for the family.  Baked apples are easy to make and healthier than apple pie.  these are so delicious, you won’t even miss the rich pastry of a pie.

Not quite a “recipe” but more a method, this makes 4 servings.

 

4 Apples, washed and cored, hollowed out – but not cut all the way through. 
In a small bowl, mix together:
4 Tabl. Brown Sugar
3/4 tsp. Cinnamon
1/2 tsp. Nutmeg
2 Tabl. Raisins or Currents
2 Tabl. Pecans or Walnuts (optional)

Place the apples in a 8″ X 8″ pan.  Divide the sugar and spice mixture between the four apples, stuffing it down in the hollow.  Place 1 tsp. cold butter on top of each apple.  Pour 1/2 cup of Apple Cider in the pan.  Without covering, place the apple sin a pre-heated 375 degree oven for 40 – 45 minutes or until tender.

        

     

Remove the warm apples from the pan and plate.  Empty the remaining cider into a small pan and on medium temperature, reduce the cider by half.  Whisk in 2 Tabl. cold butter to form the caramel.  Spoon the caramel over the apples and serve.

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Caramel Apples

Do you want to make some child(ren) very happy???  Can you be patient knowing that a big pay-off is coming?  Then you need to make these Caramel Apples!  I know you could unwrap store bought caramels, melt them down with a little water in the microwave and make a caramel for dipping apples, but…do you know how long it takes to unwrap all those little individual caramels?  Actually, Kraft now makes Caramel Bits which is a bag of caramels unwrapped for baking purposes.   Kraft has solved the unwrapping problem, but the taste of homemade caramel far surpasses the store bought.

Making your own caramel from scratch, while requiring some patience, is quite gratifying.  The recipe is simple, the process takes about a half hour, the dipping can be a bit messy…but the result is AMAZING!  Plan now to make these with your loved ones, or maybe for the neighbor kids ; )

Wash, thoroughly dry and place sticks in 8-10 apples*.  (I used wooden chopsticks in mine)  Place the apples on a parchment lined cookie sheet. *Use any crisp apple variety.

In a small, tall pan, melt:
1/2 cup Butter
 
Add to the pan:
2 cups Brown Sugar
1 cup Dark Corn Syrup
1/2 tsp. Sea Salt
 
Stir continuously until the above reaches a boil.  Add to the pan:
1 can Condensed Milk (not evaporated)

Attach a thermometer to the side of the pan and while stirring on low heat, bring up to a temperature of 248 degrees F.  The process of getting to the right temp takes at least 20 minutes but more like 30 minutes depending on your stove.   When the temp gets to 248 degrees F, remove from the stove and add 1-1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract.  Stir to incorporate.

     

Dip the apples in the caramel, turning to coat well.  Place the apples back on the parchment to set.  Roll in garnishes if you wish: nuts, choc. chips, small candies, sprinkles, ,etc..

     

If you have any caramel left, pour it on top of parchment in a shallow pan.  Allow to set up and cut with sharp knife for individual caramels.  OR: wrap it in a plastic bag and re-melt slowly in the microwave for dipping again in a couple of days when the kids start pestering you for MORE CARAMEL APPLES!!!

Calvados Apple Muffins

The calendar and the weather are both telling us: Fall is here.  The beauty of fall makes up for the loss of the warmth of  summer.  We tend to find warmth and comfort in foods during these cold(er) months.

Each of us has heard of, tasted and/or made an apple cake, as they are quite popular.  I determined to make mine “better than” by replacing some of the oil with yogurt to add flavor and moisture and sauteing my apples before adding them to the batter.  A splash of Calvados or Applejack – an apple brandy, intensifies and accentuates the apples.

I made this recipe into muffins for a special brunch, but have made it in a bundt pan for years.  Just sprinkle the top of cooled cake with powdered sugar – it’s taste can stand on its own!

In a Saute pan, melt:
2 Tabl. Butter
 
Add to hot pan:
3 Apples, peeled, cored and diced
3 Tabl. Sugar
1 tsp. Cinnamon

Saute apples until just soft.

Toss into the saute pan:
2 Tabl. Apple Brandy (Calvados or Applejack) * Optional

Toss the brandy with apples, and allow to flame a bit (this burns off alcohol).  Remove from heat and allow to cool.

     
 
In a large bowl, whisk together:
1-1/4 cups Sugar
2/3 cup Yogurt, plain
1/2 cup Vegetable Oil
3 Eggs
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
 
  
 
In a small bowl, mix together dry ingredients:
2 cups AP Flour
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Cinnamon
 
        

Stir the dry ingredients into the wet.  Add the cooled apples and stir to coat.  Place in muffin cups by scoop.  Bake in 350 degree oven for 25 minutes or until done.

     

If baking in a bundt pan, bake in 350 degree oven for 35 – 40 minutes or until tests done with toothpick.  Cool cake and dust with powdered sugar.

Apple “Pizza”

There really are very few Irish Desserts.  That’s because traditionally, Irish people eat what they grow and what is hearty.  May of their desserts call for fruit, sometimes fresh and often dried.  Many traditional Irish desserts call for apples or oatmeal. I decided to give you this recipe which calls for both apples and oatmeal, and while it’s not necessarily “Irish”,  it is perfect for your St. Patrick’s Day meal.

This dessert is part pie, part apple crisp, but totally delicious!! It’s “pizza” in that it is shallow,and free-formed. Kids and adults will love it. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or drizzled with caramel sauce.  Serves 8-10.

 

 

 


CRUST:
Combine:
1-1/2 cups AP Flour
1 tsp. Salt
3/4 cup Crisco
1 Tabl. Sugar


Add in small amounts to the above until the dough comes together:
1/4 cup Ice Water

Bring the dough together, press it into a disk and wrap in a piece of plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour  (refrigerate for up to 3 days)

 

APPLE FILLING: –
Mix together in bowl:
3 Apples, peeled,cored and sliced (I use Honey Crisp)
2 Tabl. Brown Sugar
1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
Dash Nutmeg, optional
Dash Salt
 
 
 

Crumb Topping:
Combine in Bowl:
1 cup Oatmeal, Quick
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
1 tsp. Cinnamon
Dash Salt
 

  

With fingers, work into the oatmeal mix:

1/4 cup Butter, softened
 

  

TO ASSEMBLE “PIZZA”:

 

 

1. Roll crust out to 12″ circle 2. Roll edges of the crust up to form edge

3. Spread the apples on top of the crust, to edge.

4. Top the apples with crumbs.

Bake in 375 degree oven for 40 minutes.  Serve warm!

 

 

Apple Danish

I always keep Puff Dough sheets in my freezer.  Puff Dough is so versatile – you can use it to top chicken pot pie, make appetizers or as in this case, make wonderful pastries!  This was one of my best selling pastries at the bakery.  A piece of puff dough, your favorite variety of apple, a brush of melted butter and a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar is all it takes to make this crunchy sweet treat.  These pastries are low in fat and sugar and since one apple makes 4 Danish, they are also very economical.

Since there is no real recipe these are the steps:

1)  Using a cookie cutter or glass, cut rounds out of partially frozen puff dough sheets, place them on parchment lined baking sheet.

2)  Lightly brush the pastry with melted butter.

3)  Peel, core and thinly slice apples (one apple/4 Danish).

4)  In a pinwheel pattern, arrange apples on top of pastry.

5)  Lightly brush the apples with melted butter.

6)  Sprinkle each generously with Cinnamon Sugar.

7)  (Optional) I also make a simple syrup glaze which is equal amounts of sugar and water brought to a boil and cooled.

Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes until puffed and golden brown.  If desired, brush with simple syrup after removing from the oven.

German Apple Pancake

Mom often “surprised” us kids by serving up this “piping hot from the oven”  Apple Pancake.  Over the years, I made it for my 3 children ~ who also loved it!  It’s fast and easy and healthy, and it’s a perfect fall weekend breakfast!

In a large saute pan heat: (choose a pan that can go right into the oven)
2 Tabl. Butter

Add to melted butter and cook until apples are slightly softened:
4 tart Apples, sliced
3 Tabl. Lemon Juice
1 ½ tsp. Cinnamon
½ tsp. Ground Nutmeg
In a blender or food processor, blend:
3 Eggs, whole
½ cup Milk
½ cup flour
½ tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract

Pour the batter over the apples.  Stick the entire pan into the oven and bake at 400 degrees for approx. 20 minutes or until puffed and browned.  Remove from the oven and flip the pan over onto a serving platter.  Dust with powdered sugar. Serve warm.

Apple Crumb Pie

So you’ve looked at the last recipe for Double Crust Apple Pie, and you think, “But, I like crumb topped pie”.  Well, look no further. Mom made the best crumb topped pie: she called “Dutch Apple Pie”.  Follow the exact directions in the Double Crust Apple Pie recipe up to filling the pie shell with apples.

FOR CRUMB TOPPING:

Mix together until it forms fine crumbs:   

2 cups Flour

¾ cup Brown Sugar

¼ cup Sugar

1 tsp. Salt

1 Tabl. Vanilla Extract

½# Butter, softened in microwave, but not melted

Mix the above mixture lightly with your fingers (or fork if you don’t like to get messy) until it is incorporated and forms nice size crumbs.  Top the apples with crumbs, covering entire top.  Bake in 375 degree oven for 10 minutes and then lower oven temp to 350 degrees and continue cooking until apples test done with knife – approximately 45 minutes.  Serve with vanilla ice cream.

* Today’s Tip:  If the edges are getting too brown, you can place tin foil around the edges to protect them OR buy a crust guard OR BETTER YET, (what I did in the bakery)  take one tin foil pan and cut around the edge, starting from the inside.  This will give you a circular crust guard.  Place this over the top of the pie, around the crust edges.

Double Crust Apple Pie

Place all ingredients in large microwavable bowl and mix together:

5 Granny Smith or MacIntosh Apples *

4 softer apples such as Cortland                                      

¼ cup Brown Sugar

½ cup Sugar

1 Tabl. Lemon Juice

1 ½ tsp. Cinnamon

¼ tsp. Nutmeg

½ tsp. Salt

2 Tabl. Flour

Microwave the apples for 6 minutes until slightly softened.  Allow apples to cool.

Place apple mixture into an unbaked pie crust.  Dot with 2 Tabl. cold Butter, cut into small pieces.  Top with second crust.   Fold the edges under all the way around the pie pan.  Crimp the edge of the pie crust (using fork or thumb).  Cut slits (to allow for venting) into the center of the top crust.  Bake in a 375 degree oven for 15 minutes and then lower oven temp to 350 degrees.  Continue to bake until the crust is browned nicely and juices are running through slits, approximately 45 minutes.  You can test the doneness of the apples by pricking a knife through the slit.

While the pie is baking, combine in a small saucepan, 1/2 cup sugar and 4 Tabl water.  Bring to a boil.  Set aside.

Now for the professional touch: 10 minutes after the pie comes out of the oven, using a pastry brush, glaze the top of the pie.

 

* For me, it is the combination of firmer, more tart apples with softer, sweeter apples that makes this a perfect pie.  You can substitute your own favorite apples by using the apple chart to choose some crisp and some softer varieties.

It’s Apple Season!

APPLE GUIDE: (this is not an all-inclusive list – there are over 2500 varieties of apples grown in the US)

EATING/SALADS COOKING (applesauce) BAKING (pies)
Braeburn Gala Granny Smith
Cortland Winesap Northern Spy
Red Delicious Jonathan Rome
Crispin Newton York
McIntosh Greenings
Fiji
Gala (I prefer a combination of cooking and bakingapples for applesauce and pies)
Empire
Jonathan
Golden Delicious

Look for: Firm, crisp, well-colored apples.

APPLE TRIVIA:

As fruit ripens it releases a natural hormone called ethylene, a gas, which triggers enzymes.  Enzymes cause starches and acids to break down into sugar, which softens fruit. Some produce trucks actually pump ethylene gas into their trailers to ripen fruit that was picked unripe.

Did you know? Apples produce a lot of ethylene.  You can put an apple in a brown lunch bag with un-ripened fruit and roll the bag closed.  Since the gas produced from the apple gets trapped in the bag, the fruit ripens faster!

Apple Crisp

Toss together in a bowl:
4 c. Granny Smith Apples, peeled, cored, sliced
1 tsp. Lemon Juice
1 tsp. Cinnamon
1/4 tsp. Nutmeg
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

CRUMB TOPPING:

Combine in a bowl:
2/3 c. Brown sugar
1/2 c. AP Flour
1/2 c. Oatmeal
1 tsp. Cinnamon
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Mix into above dry ingredients to form crumbs:
1/3 c. butter, softened (not melted)
 
 
 
 

Place apples in an 8″ X 8″ pan.  Top with crumbs.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 35 minutes.  Serve warm with Vanilla Ice Cream.

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