Caramel. Just about my favourite thing in the world. I’d even say that if it came down to a fight, chocolate would get battered by the butter/sugar/cream combo. For some reason I thought that these Caramel Apples from the first Matt Lewis and Rene Poliafito book would be glass-shatter crack style toffee – um, like those neon commercial ones. Instead they were fudgy-sticky.
They were still good. The caramel coats the fruit like a thin veneer and you get a mixture of buttery sweetness and the sharp apple taste in each mouthful. I used Cox apples but they could have been more crisp, by the time I got around to making them, a couple of days later than planned. It was also a bit late to add lollipop sticks to the long order of baking supplies that I put in last week so I found kebab skewers in the local pound shop (they’ve got to be food safe, right?) and used three in each apple which worked a treat.
I used a mixture of vanilla essence (not seeds infused into cream as they suggest) and a little maple in the caramel which gave a heady smell, and added cinnamon sugar. Lots of flavours but they all blended beautifully. As you can see, there was plenty left over afterwards to scoop off the parchment too.
- 10 medium apples, preferably a tart variety
- 1 cup double cream
- ½ tsp pure maple syrup
- 1 tsp good quality vanilla extract
- ½ cup caster sugar
- ½ light brown cinnamon sugar
- ¼ cup light corn syrup
- 1 ½ tbsp unsalted butter
- Wash and dry the apples, and insert skewers, and prepare a large bowl of iced water
- Place all ingredients in a small heavy saucepan, stir and allow the sugar and butter to melt
- Monitoring it with a sugar thermometer, bring the temperature to 245F, without stirring the mixture, and keep it at that level for 1 minute
- Remove the pot from the heat and put in the ice water for 30 seconds to halt the cooking process
- Tilt the pan, and dip your skewered apples quickly, then place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment
- Put them in the fridge for at least 10 mins to set
- Wrap in parchment for transportation to scary film night.
I had egg whites in the fridge and couldn’t think of anything to make that wasn’t meringue-based. Ok, not strictly true. I’ve been obsessed with macarons for a while. Yes, I am using the poncy French spelling. That’s because I am particularly obsessed with the French, perfumed, pastel morsels served up by the likes of Pierre Herme and Laduree. Though the first ones I ever made were pistachio, to a Nigella recipe, to ensure that I had something suitable for a coeliac friend who was coming to afternoon tea. That’s the basic recipe that I used to start off this version.
- 75g macadamias
- 125g icing sugar
- 2 large egg whites
- 15g caster sugar
- 1 tsp orange essence
Oven – 180, Gas Mark 4
- Grind the macadamias and icing sugar in a food processor. Probably more finely that I did, as it led to a barely but visibly bumpy surface to the cooked macarons.
- Add the orange essence to the eggs, then whisk the two egg whites til stiff but not dry. Add the caster sugar. Whisk til stiff.
- Fold the whites into the macadamia sugar, gently.
- Pipe on to a parchment baking sheet.
- Allow to sit so they form a skin.
- Cook for 10-12 minutes, then cool on the sheets.
I put two trays in the (non-fan, bane of my life) oven and the bottom ones cracked slightly, so will know not to do that again.
Caramel Filling by Girl Cook in Paris:
For the filling, I knew I wanted to do some sort of caramel. I spent some time drooling over researching macarons (like Edward’s amazing ones, with lots of tips too) and went with Diane’s step-by-step, including mise-en-place tutorial. I still feel a little limited because I don’t have a stand mixer, and waited for the boyfriend to come home to help. Supervise. Take me to the A&E with burns.
In fact it’s simple, and safe as long as you follow the instructions.
I did wonder if it was going to work, beating the cooled caramel in with cream cheese and butter.
It did. I piped this glorious splodgy cream onto the paired up macarons and found that I had half a piping bag left over. So I filled some experimental chocolate tartlet shells (experiment is a nice way of saying I screwed them up) with the remaining mixture, and popped a sliver of chopped Montezuma milk chocolate button on top.
I dropped some of these off yesterday to various people in town – because if we eat all of them, frankly we’ll turn into Teletubbies. Would you like some?