These Caramel Apples,which I made for Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus, are the perfect vehicle for me to kick off Bookcooker fall fest! Of all the seasons, it is the produce available in fall that gets me most excited. As October begins, it is apples, squash and pumpkin everywhere! So inspired, I am hoping to embark upon a project for the blog this fall where I make a few different dishes of various sorts (cocktail, snack, breakfast, dessert, side, main dish etc...) inspired by one ingredient - starting off with apples and then probably moving to squash, pumpkin, carrots, pears, whatever inspires me that week. I say this all with the caveat that my day job often gets in the way of my big blog ideas, so I will try to keep up with this. After these classic caramel apples I will share some pork chops with apples, a quinoa apple salad and hopefully an apple cocktail, breakfast and another dessert. But first, these luscious, messy, caramel apples. Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus is a book filled with real magic, star-crossed lovers and carnival food. Sounds good, right? The star of the book is the Cirque de Reves (also known as The Night Circus), a fantastical traveling circus that opens at dusk and closes at dawn andfeatures some performers that are able to perform real magic (create a starry night sky in a tent a la Harry Potter, create jars that when you open them transport you to the seashore, a rainy day in a forest etc...) and other performers that are the most artful, urbane circus acts imaginable. Two participants in the circus - Celia, a performer, and Marco, the assistant to the Circus creator, also happen to be involved in a secret magical duel. They are simply the pawns of their respective mentors - for Celia, her father, Prospero, an old vaudevillian magician and for Marcus a mysterious man dressed in a grey suit that picked him up one day from an orphanage. These two old guys have been engaged in this magical battle for years, they pick two young magicians, pit them against each other and whoever is still living at the end wins. With The Night Circus, Morgenstern spared no detail in describing this enchanted but dangerous world. This is another book for the pile of adult books that obsessive Harry Potter fans would like (I seem to read these a lot... and I hate to tell you that next up is The Game of Thrones, I will have to throw in something more realistic in between!) More about the book and apples after the jump.
Caramel Apples, adapted from foodnetwork.com
Bailey is the circus' biggest fan (and he loves the circus deep down in his soul, he really "gets it"), and when he lists all the delectable treats available to circus visitors my mouth watered. Since I am doing this post in October, classic caramel apples were my first choice. I stuck with the absolute basics here, and that is about all I could manage - these were actually tougher to make than I thought they would be. Rather than just melt a bunch of caramel cubes (which is how we made caramel apples as a kid), I made the caramel from scratch. This wasn't tough at all, what was tough, as you can see with my photos, was getting the caramel to stay on the apple rather than droop down in a puddle at the apples base. I attempted to add some toppings to the caramel apples - coconut and peanuts, but these also just drooped. Not totally sure what I did wrong, but regardless the apples tasted delicious they were just not ready for their close up.
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup of corn syrup
1/2 cup of water
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter
healthy pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
6 apples (dealers choice, I used Macoun.)
Toppings if desired such as chopped nuts
Special Equipment: skewers, Popsicle sticks or other apple holding mechanism, a candy thermometer
- In a medium heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup and water. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring only until the sugar dissolves.
- Continue to cook over medium heat for 10 -15 minutes, swirling the pan but not stiring, until the mixture becomes amber colored and the temp on the thermometer is 320 degrees. (Note: It is hard for me to make caramel right without this thermometer, they are cheap, get one or live with a lot of burnt caramel).
- Remove from the heat, carefully whisk in the cream and butter and stir. Add the vanilla.
- Put this mixture back onto low to medium heat, whisk until totally smooth.
- Take off the heat, let cool until the caramel coats the back of a spoon. Let it cool a little more than you think it needs to cool.
- Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper sprayed with cooking spray.
- Take the apples and stick your skewer in them.
- Dip the apples into the caramel and turn to coat. Place on the parchment paper.
- If you want to add toppings, immediately after dipping in caramel roll in nuts or other topping, then place on parchment paper.
- Let cool and enjoy, even if they look messy.