One of the biggest perks of serving a mission stateside - besides no language barrier, more Gospel study time, no culture shock and food that you've at least heard of before, is the U.S. Postal Service. I mean these faithful servants (and I'm talking about the postmen and women, not our missionaries) trudge through rain, snow, sleet and hail not to mention the humidity of an Ohio summer day, just to make sure that my faithful servant gets his letters and packages from home. I love them! And don't you just love the Flat Rate boxes? Makes it all possible.
Have you ever had a gourmet caramel apple? Here in Utah we have the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory which specializes in gourmet apples. They are sinfully delicious. I'm not kidding. You don't even care how many calories are in that little orb of delectability. They are seriously good.
Last year we tried our hand at making our own caramel apples and now it's a tradition...well, at least for the last two years. Place the finished apples in large baking cups then in a clear cellophane sack. One for your missionary and one for his companion - I always try to include the companion some how. No one likes to feel left out when a package comes! Wrap each sack in bubble wrap then box and send them on their merry little way. They only take two to three days to mail and my missionary said they arrived just great. Make sure you time it so it's not sitting in a dark post office somewhere over a weekend. Have fun trying your own combinations to come up with a unique flavor all your own.
Gourmet Caramel Apples - 3 apples*
sharpened wooden dowels
Granny Smith apples
37 Milk Maid caramels*
1 Tbs. water
2 cups milk chocolate chips
2 Tbs. Crisco shortening
toppings of choice
Remove stem and wash apples well with water rubbing with a washcloth to remove any wax. Dry and insert sharpened sticks into the center of the apples. Unwrap caramels and place in a glass microwavable bowl with 1 Tbs. water.* Heat in the microwave for about three minutes. Watch closely and take out and stir when it STARTS to bubble. If caramel gets too hot it will dry too hard. Don't let the caramel get too thin - stir it to the right consistency. Dip apples into caramel, allowing the extra caramel to drip off - use a spoon to work the extra caramel off the apple. Place dipped apples on a cookie sheet that is covered with wax paper and has been sprayed with cooking spray. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, overnight is even better. If the caramel has puddled aroud the base of the apple, run some water over your fingers and push the caramel back up the apple before you dip it into the chocolate.
While waiting for the caramel to set up, prepare the toppings and set aside. Melt the chocolate chips* in a glass bowl in the microwave at 50% power for 45 seconds at a time, stirring after each time. Once chips start to get soft, add Crisco and return to the microwave for 15 seconds at 50% power. Remove and stir well to ensure no lumps remain. Do not let the chocolate chips get too runny or it won't stay on the apple. Dip the apples into the chocolate. Dip apple in toppings or sprinkle on the outside then pat onto the chocolate. Place apple on a wax paper lined cookie sheet (no spray) and return to the refrigerator for 20 minutes to allow the chocolate time to sep up. For the decorative layer of chocolate, take the remaining melted chocolate and spoon into a small plastic bag. Cut a small hole in the corner of the bag. Squeeze the top of the bag, pushing the chocolate toward the hole. Make circular designs around the apple. The decorative layer can be done in the milk chocolate, a darker chocolate, or use white chocolate. This step can also be accomplished by drizzling the melted chocolate from a spoon. If desired, place apples in a large baking cup and place in a cellophane bag. Return apples to the fridge and let the apples set up for 30 minutes. Remove apples from refrigerator 10 minutes prior to serving. Slice before serving.
(recipe courtesy of Rachel Anderson)
*If you are making a large quantity of caramel apples you can purchase Peter's Caramel in large blocks to use in place of the Milk Maid Caramels and dipping chocolate to use in place of the milk chocolate chips. Add small amounts of water to the caramel only to help get it to the proper consistency. I melted my caramel and chocolate in a bowl placed over hot water (similar to a double boiler). I purchased my caramel, chocolate, dowels, large baking cups, and cellophane bags from Orson Gygi's, a culinary supply store located at 3500 South 300 West in Salt Lake City, Utah www.gygi.com
Here are some ideas for different flavored apples:
- Apple Pie - caramel, white chocolate then cinnamon sugar (1 c. sugar/1 T. cinnamon)
- S'more - caramel, milk chocolate, mini marshmallows, graham cracker, white drizzle
- Twix - caramel, milk chocolate, crushed graham crackers, white drizzle
- Candy bar - caramel, favorite candy, milk chocolate, white drizzle
- Nutter Butter - caramel, milk chocolate, crushed Nutter Butter cookies, white drizzle
- Cookies n' Cream - caramel, milk chocolate, crushed Oreo cookies, white drizzle
- Hawaiian - caramel, white chocolate, toasted coconut, macadamia nuts, white drizzle
- Toffee Chip - caramel, milk chocolate, Toffee chips, white drizzle
- Turtle - caramel, milk chocolate, pecans, drizzle with dark chocolate
- Pretzel - caramel, milk chocolate, crushed pretzels, drizzle with white chocolate
- German Chocolate - caramel, milk chocolate, coconut, pecans, drizzle with dark chocolate
- Triple Chocolate - caramel, milk chocolate, drizzle with dark and white chocolate