Humor is also a way of saying something serious. - T. S. Eliot

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Lubricating My Way into Fall with Caramel

"I just licked the waxed paper clean," I told Dave during our daily, noon time phone conversation. He laughed. "I'm not kidding. I really did. That caramel is soooo good." 

"I fully believed you."

He knows me so well, I thought, as I hung up. 

Every fall since I can remember mom and I would go get fresh apples and bring them home.  School was back in session, the sun was setting earlier, and I hated it.  I never have been one to transition well, especially as a child.  Change things up on me and I'd have a fit.  Sensitive to everything including the way the seam of my sock hit my toes or the tag of the shirt rubbed my back, I'd have something to lament about. I'm sure my *shining personality* is what drove my mom into the kitchen, away from me, to make everything she stuffed in my picky little mouth -- homemade. 

In the fall she would make apple sauce, apple butter, apple pie, and caramel apples.  I loved all of it, but especially the caramel apples.  A year ago, I got so desperate for a homemade caramel apple that I called her up and got the recipe and made them myself. 

This past Sunday, Dave and I packed up the girls and headed to the orchard.  It was relatively bee-free, so we elected picking our own apples.  "This is the first time I think I have ever picked apples," Dave pointed out as we drove away with nine pounds of Honeycrisp apples.

Normally, half-way into the lines of trees the bees get so bad that I can't tolerate the fear of a bee "getting me," and we grab a bag of pre-picked apples and to my great relief, load back into the car. 

Once home we scrubbed the apples clean, stabbed a wooden stick in each of them, buttered some waxed paper, and then got to the business of making the caramel.  It's sticky business -- making caramel.  Heat it too fast or too hot it gets hard. Heat it too slow or not enough it stays runny.  I tested my candy thermometer in a pan of boiling water and, like any true black-and-white thinking, rule-loving fool, I followed mom's instructions to a T. 

The result -- perfectly creamy, chewy, sweet, buttery with-a-hint of vanilla, good enough to like the wax paper clean -- caramel.    Pics and recipe below.

Caramel Apples
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup Karo 
14 oz sweetened condensed milk

Combine above in a pan. Cook over medium heat and stir constantly until you reach 230 degrees.

Remove pan from heat. Let sit 3-4 minutes

Stir in:  1/4 cup butter (sliced up, not in a big block)
1 tsp vanilla

Let sit a couple more minutes

Dunk your apples in the caramel (I made 12 small apples) and place apples on a buttered waxed paper, perhaps placed in individual bowls to prevent running of caramel. 

If it's too runny, eat it anyway. 

If it turned out hard, well...  Try, try again.

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