Friday, October 18, 2013

How to Host a Gourmet Caramel Apple Party


Those who love Halloween are passionate about one of two things: the Scary or the Sweet. I happen to fall in the latter category, and my sweet tooth goes wild this time of year. One of our traditions at our house in the fall is to make "gourmet caramel apples"- fashioned after the decadently coated creations that we discovered at Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory while living in Colorado. We discovered that we could fairly easily re-create the exquisite treats with some of our own favorite candies, cookies, and chocolate toppings. Some friends got wind of our tradition a few years back, as well as the fact that they and my husband had a shared obsession with Mel Brooks films, and we decided it would be a perfect Halloween get-together to dip caramel apples and watch Young Frankenstein. Thus, our Halloween Caramel Apple Party was born. 

Here's how it works: We invite two or three couples over, instructing each that we will provide caramels and apples for dipping if they will bring a favorite topping or two. We then spend the evening chatting as we crush, melt, and dip, after which we sit down and watch a "light" Halloween film while munching on the fruits (no pun intended) of our labors. We're not big into the super-spooky Halloween flicks, and our film selections have ranged from Young Frankenstein, to Little Shop of Horrors, to Arsenic and Old Lace. Our original crew of apple dippers and Mel Brooks fans have moved on to other life endeavors, but we've tried to keep up the tradition by choosing a few new couples to invite each year. It's a fun and simple excuse to spend an evening with friends, and a Halloween tradition that we've come to look forward to.

very important note: The best part of discovering caramel apples at the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory was learning to imitate the way they cut the apples for you. This will revolutionize the way you think about caramel apples! No more sticky mess in your teeth as you try to take ineffective bites out of your apple. To truly enjoy a caramel apple - especially one that's coated in all sorts of chocolate candy goodness, you simply must cut it up. Simply take a large knife, and make four cuts around the core of the apple. You're basically cutting a tic-tac-toe into the apple, with the apple core in the center square (see the picture below). This leaves you with 8 scrumptious slices of apple that are easy to bite, and which each give you the perfect blend of all the wonderful layers of gourmet caramel apple deliciousness!

Gourmet Caramel Apples
4-5 SERVINGS (We typically double the batch and make about 2 apples per couple, so there's a few to share and at least one to take home)

PREP: 15 minutes           COOK: 3-5 minutes in the microwave 
READY IN: 20-90 minutes (depending on how distracted you get with chatting as you make them!)

  SIMPLE         HEALTHY      YUM
pic name       pic name      pic name

INGREDIENTS


  • 4-5 medium to large apples (crispy and tart varieties, such as Fuji, Granny Smith, or Gala are best)
  • 1 (14 oz.) bag of caramel candies
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • Wooden sticks (these often come with the caramels in the fall, or you can get them in the craft store)
  • An assortment of candies, cookies, chocolate, and nuts for dipping and drizzling. Some of our favorites are:
    • Crushed oreo cookies
    • Crushed graham crackers or vanilla wafers
    • Crushed pretzel pieces
    • Other crushed candy bar pieces, such as m&ms, Reese's, Crunch, Butterfinger, Heath, etc.
    • Nuts - crushed almond pieces, crushed peanut pieces, pecan or walnut pieces
    • Cinnamon and sugar 
    • White chocolate and dark or milk chocolate chips (for melting and drizzling)

DIRECTIONS


  1. Prep all your ingredients: Wash and dry your apples, and put crushed toppings into individual bowls. You will also want to prepare some pieces of wax paper (one for each apple) on a plate or tray to set the dipped apples on.
  2. Place unwrapped caramel candies and 2 tablespoons water in a medium-sized glass (or other microwave safe) bowl.
  3. Heat caramels for 2-3 minutes in microwave, stopping every 30-60 seconds to stir the caramel.
  4. Once the caramels are completely melted, take an apple with a wooden stick inserted and place it in the caramel. Using a spoon, scoop the caramel onto the apple until it is covered completely. (If your caramel is still very hot, the caramel will tend to be thinner on the apple. If you want a thicker caramel layer, let the caramel cool just a bit.)
  5. Remove the apple from the caramel using the stick and let the caramel set just a bit. Roll in the topping(s) of your choice - it will mostly stick to the warm caramel, but you may need to help it a bit by gently pressing with your hands or the back of a spoon.
  6. Now place the apples in the fridge to let the caramel set even more. Meanwhile, prep your chocolate toppings by microwaving chocolate chips for 2-3 minutes (again, stirring every 30-60 seconds). Once the chocolate is melted, an easy way to drizzle it onto your apples is to spoon it into one corner of a quart-sized freezer bag, cut a very small triangle off the corner of the bag, and squeeze the chocolate out onto your apples. This way you can control where and how much chocolate goes onto the apple. 
  7. Once again, place the apples into the fridge to help the chocolate set. Then, when you can't stand the wait any longer, cut (make sure you read the very important cutting notes!), serve, and enjoy!
You can let yourself go wild and create any combination of toppings that you want - they will pretty much all be amazing! But some of our favorites are: 

  • Oreo pieces with dark and white chocolate
  • Chocolate-covered pretzels: Pretzel pieces with dark or milk chocolate
  • Nuts (any kind, really) with chocolate
  • Apple pie: graham cracker or nilla wafer crumbs with white chocolate and cinnamon/sugar sprinkles

NUTRITION FACTS



    (I'm not going to even bother with nutrition facts here. Let's just say they're really good ... and that I won't judge if you tell yourself that they're somewhat good for you so that you can justify having another piece! "An apple a day..." right?)

Happy Halloween!
Linking up here.

2 comments:

Allie Olsen said...

I really want to do this now!! I definitely like Halloween because of the sweet too :) Pinning for later! (hopefully not too much later!)

Cambria said...

Ah that sweet tooth is so powerful! These are great for the fall, but don't worry - they're also good all year round (speaking from experience! :) Thanks for stopping by!

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