Halloween Caramel Apples

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.

Ingredients

  • 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

Method

  1. Wash and dry the apples, and insert skewers, and prepare a large bowl of iced water
  2. Place all ingredients in a small heavy saucepan, stir and allow the sugar and butter to melt
  3. Monitoring it with a sugar thermometer, bring the temperature to 245F, without stirring the mixture, and keep it at that level for 1 minute
  4. Remove the pot from the heat and put in the ice water for 30 seconds to halt the cooking process
  5. Tilt the pan, and dip your skewered apples quickly, then place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment
  6. Put them in the fridge for at least 10 mins to set
  7. Wrap in parchment for transportation to scary film night.

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Macadamia Orange Macarons with Caramel Filling

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.

The Macarons:

Ingredients:

  • 75g macadamias
  • 125g icing sugar
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 15g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp orange essence

Oven – 180, Gas Mark 4

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Fold the whites into the macadamia sugar, gently.
  4. Pipe on to a parchment baking sheet.
  5. Allow to sit so they form a skin.
  6. 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?