I am getting ready for the infamous Cumberland County Fair Apple Pie Contest. I am nervous excited and need an outlet.
I have been obsessively baking pies. Starting with my Almost Award-Winning Apple Pie recipe from last year, I have been making small tweaks. Will it be better if I reduce the cinnamon by half a teaspoon? Will the judges fall to their knees if I use three different apple varietals instead of one? Will my chances of finally taking home the coveted blue ribbon increase if I slip the nice elderly lady that collect s all the entries a 20?
I am exploring all my options, but really all I am doing is driving myself crazy. I am one pie away from walking down the street in a robe and pink bunny slippers while reciting blurbs from the Joy of Cooking. After three weeks of tests, I have reached my limit and am going to run with the original recipe, with one exception, which I will keep to myself until after the contest. The rest of the recipe will remain untouched.
Unfortunately, my decision to run with the original recipe hasn’t stopped the nightmares where the contest hall turns into the Coliseum where the other competitors and I are forced to fight to the death all while being cheered on by an audience of consisting of Food Network chefs. To dispel some of the nervous energy, I have kept my hands busy with other recipes.
Today, I tackled another fair favorite: caramel apples. You can doctor them up with any topping that you want. I went for a sea salted caramel, but they would be just as good covered with mini M&Ms or crushed pretzels.
- 6-8 medium sized apples
- 3 cups granulated sugar
- ⅓ cup light corn syrup
- 1 cup water
- 3 tablespoons butter
- ¾ cups minus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons Frangelico
- 14 ounces dark chocolate
- Pink Himalayan sea salt for sprinkling
- Wash apples in warm water. Scrub to make sure that you have removed all the wax and residue.
- In a large saucepan, combine granulated sugar, corn syrup and water. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Once it comes to a boil, watch carefully. It will turn a pale yellow between 10 and 15 minutes into the boil.
- Once the mixture reaches a deep amber, remove pot from heat. You will want to watch the pan closely once you hit the pale yellow stage, it will darken quickly. If you let it go past the dark amber, stage it could burn. Once it starts to smoke, it is a good indication that you have reached or are just about to reach the perfect amber color.
- After removing from heat, add the Frangelico, cream and butter to hot mixture. Be very careful as the mixture will hiss and bubble when you add the cold ingredients.
- Whisk until the butter and cream are thoroughly incorporated. Let caramel sit for 5 minutes to stiffen up just a bit.
- Poke sticks into the bottom of apples and coat by slowly twirling the apples in the caramel. Place caramel covered apples on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Place in the fridge while you prepare the chocolate.
- On a microwave safe bowl, place ¾ of the dark chocolate. Microwave for 30 seconds, and stir. You are going to temper the chocolate so you will need a candy thermometer. Heat the chocolate in 30 second increments and stir until you reach 115 degrees. Then add the remaining chocolate to the melted chocolate and stir until the temperature of the chocolate drops down to 90 degrees. Dip the caramel covered apples in the chocolate and place on the parchment lined cookie sheet.
- Sprinkle apples with pink salt and place sheet in the fridge to let apples set. Keep refrigerated for up to three days.