I was recently chosen as a winner of a cookbook & brownie mix giveaway on Vanilla Sugar. It was really cool to win this wonderful giveaway because Vanilla Sugar is one of my favorite blogs. Dawn is seriously talented in the kitchen and creates the most amazing food with awesome combinations of flavors and textures. Be sure to check our her site! Anyway, I received a box of brownies (that I can’t wait to make) and two cookbooks, Baked & Baked Explorations both by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito. Let me just tell you, these cookbooks are the best baking cookbooks I’ve ever seen. Literally every recipe is drool worthy. Thanks for the wonderful giveaway Dawn! xoxo
I wanted to try something from the cookbook Baked first. I chose a recipe that would be fairly simple to make and would use ingredients that I had on hand. I thought the vanilla bean caramel dipped apples would be a perfect after school treat for my little ones! I have never made caramel before so I was a bit nervous. It smelled so amazing while it was cooking that I was almost swooning. Seriously. Anyway, I followed the instructions but I think my candy thermometer must not work well or it could be the fact that I had no idea what I was doing, regardless, the caramel turned out so delicious but it didn’t “set”. When I dipped the apples into the caramel, it basically just slid right off. It was much too thin to coat the apples. I didn’t know what I should do since I have no idea what “set” caramel should look like. Before I threw everything away in frustration, I tasted the vanilla bean caramel. Words can’t express how amazing this stuff tastes! I could NOT throw away something that was so scrumptious! I decided to slice up the apples and serve the caramel on the side as a dip. My kids were THRILLED with this after school snack. They didn’t care that the apples weren’t on a stick and they both kept saying (and moaning) that it was so delicious. I can’t wait to try making this again in hopes that I will actually do it correctly next time. Does anyone have suggestions on how to tell if the caramel is ready for dipping apples into it?
If you make dipped apples, remove the stems of the cleaned apples, then set them on a parchment lined baking sheet a few inches apart. Insert a skewer about three quarters of the way through each apple. If you want apple slices, clean the apples but wait to cut them into slices until right before serving.
Put the cream in a small heavy pot. Cut the vanilla bean in half lengthwise, and using the tip of the knife, scrape the seeds of the vanilla bean into the cream. Add the vanilla bean to the cream as well. Simmer the cream over a very low temperature for 10 minutes. Do not let the mixture boil. Remove from the heat and pour the mixture through a very fine mesh sieve into a bowl to remove the vanilla bean and any loose fibers.
Place the vanilla cream back into the pot, then add the sugar, corn syrup, and butter making sure that the mixture doesn’t splash up onto the sides of the pot. Place the pot over very low heat and stir gently until the sugar is dissolved, increase the heat to medium high heat and clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the pot. Heat the caramel mixture, without stirring, to 245 degrees F.
Meanwhile, put a few handfuls of ice into a large bowl, big enough to fit the pot you are cooking the caramel in.
When the caramel mixture reaches 245 degrees F. (and stays there for at least 1 minute), remove from the heat and place the pot on top of the ice for 30 seconds to slow the cooking. Remove the pan from the ice.
If your caramel is cooked correctly and is setting, tilt the pot toward you to create a big pool of caramel. Immediately begin dipping the apples into the caramel. Dip each apple only once, and don’t worry about coating it evenly or completely. Return the caramel-dipped apples back to the baking sheet and refrigerate until the caramel is set, about 10 minutes.
Side Note: If your caramel has not set properly, your apples will look like the below apples do. Still tasty, just not a good dipped apple.
If you want to use the caramel as a dip then slice the apple into wedges and serve the warm caramel as a dipping sauce. Serve immediately. Enjoy.