Friday, September 21, 2012

FROSTED: An Apple A Day....Makes The Party Guests Stay!

This time of year I get so excited for all of my favorite Fall food goodies like Pumpkin Pie, Candy Corn, Pumpkin Spice Lattes, and Apple Cider. These festive treats are just some of the reasons why I look forward to this season all year long.

Some of my favorite memories as a kid were going with my family to our local apple orchard during their annual apple festival and picking bushels of bright red delicious apples; watching the workers stir huge pots full of apple butter and buying caramel apples the size of softballs from their market. Now that I have moved away, I cannot attend the yearly orchard festival, but I still crave a sweet gooey fresh caramel apple covered in a mixture of nuts, chocolates, or candies.

A few weeks ago Misty also shared with us how to make Homemade Caramel Apples...which made my stomach beg me even more for a Red Delicious covered in creamy caramel. So, to satisfy my craving for candy coated fruit, this week I have decided to share some of my favorite caramel apple dessert recipes with you. These treats will not only excite your Fall seasonal palette, but will also replace those memories of classic old fashioned caramel apples with new appealing caramel apple inspired confections. Pick a few of these for your next Fall gathering:

Apple Cider Caramel Cookies
(Courtesy of Six Sister Stuff)

  • 1 cup of unsalted butter, nearly melted
  • 1 cup of granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 (7.4 ounce) box of Alpine Spiced Apple Cider Instant Original Drink Mix *Not sugar free*
  • 2 eggs 
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 3 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1 (14 ounce) bag of Caramels

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (190 degrees C). Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

2.  In a stand mixer, cream together butter, sugar, salt, and all 10 packets of apple cider mix until smooth and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla extract, then mix in the baking soda and baking powder. Add the flour and mix until just combined.

3.  With a standard cookie scoop, scoop the dough scrapping off the excess as you go up the bowl. Flatten the dough slightly in your hand and place a caramel in the center. Work the dough around the caramel sealing well. Place the cookies two inches apart on the sheets.

4.  Bake 12 to 14 minutes or until golden brown around the edges. After baking, carefully slide the parchment with the cookies onto the counter. Let cool until they are no longer soft but still slightly warm. Twist gently to remove, and cool the rest of the way upside down on the parchment or on a cooling rack. If cookies get too cool before you twist them off, freeze the whole sheet for a few minutes and they’ll come right off. 

Caramel Apple Jello Shots
(Recipe from That's So Michelle)

(Makes approximately 40 shots)
  •  10 small granny smith apples
  • 1 envelope of knox gelatin
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 1/2 cup of coconut milk
  • 2 drops of yellow food coloring
  • 1 envelope of Land o Lakes caramel hot chocolate
  • 1/4 cup of sugar
  • 1/2 cup of butterscotch schnapps
  • lemon juice 

1.  Half and hollow out apples cutting them from the stem down. I used a melon baller to hollow the apples and it worked well. After hollowing them squeeze some lemon juice on top to reduce browning.

2.  Mix your 1/2 cup water with your envelope of hot chocolate in a medium sized sauce pan. Whisk it to make sure all the chocolate is combined. Add the 1/2 cup of coconut milk, whisk again.

3. Sprinkle your gelatin on top and let it sit a few minutes. Turn on low/medium heat and mix the gelatin until all is combined.

4. Add 1/4 cup sugar and simmer slightly until sugar is combined. Add your food coloring until you get the caramel color desired. I used two drops. Let mixture cool to warm. Pour in your 1/2 cup of butterscotch schnapps.  

5.  With your apples arranged so they fit tightly and secure on a cookie sheet, pour your caramel jello mixture into your apples. Refrigerate overnight.  

6.  Cut halves in quarters and those quarters in half again. Serve immediately. (The lemon juice can only prevent the browning for so long). Trim off the sides of the apples that have browned too much!

Caramel Apple Cupcakes

(Makes about 20-24 cupcakes) 
  • 1 (18.25-ounce) package spice cake mix
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup peeled, cored, and chopped Granny Smith apple (about 1 large apple)
  • 35 caramels
  • 1/4 cup evaporated milk or heavy cream (or regular milk)
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 24 wooden craft sticks


1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine cake mix, eggs, sour cream, milk, and vegetable oil until incorporated (about 30 seconds). Scrape sides of bowl and then beat on med-high speed for 3 minutes. Stir in chopped apple.

2.  Spoon batter into paper-lined muffin pans, filling two-thirds full. Bake 18-20 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Do not overbake. Remove to a wire rack to cool.

3.  Meanwhile, combine caramels and milk in a medium saucepan over very low heat; stir 4 minutes or until smooth. It's very important to keep the heat very low because if the caramel gets too hot it will become really hard when cooled.

4.  Spread caramel mixture over cupcakes being careful to not touch the caramel to the paper liners or it will stick to the liners; immediately sprinkle with pecans, pressing in slightly. Insert a wooden stick into center of each cupcake. Store covered in an airtight container. It's best to serve the cupcakes the same day that you add the caramel topping. Caramel will soften if kept at room temperature for too long so store in the refrigerator until ready to serve then let come to room temperature to let caramel soften up a bit. 

Caramel Apple Donuts
(Courtesy of Shutter Bean)

(Picture from Healthful Pursuit

(Yields around 12 large donuts or 24 small donuts)
  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 medium apples, peeled & shredded
  • 1 1/2 cup chewy caramel candies
  • 1 tablespoon whole milk 

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray donut pans with cooking spray & set aside. Whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl.

2.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, brown sugar and granulated sugar until smooth. Whisk in oil and vanilla. Stir into the flour mixture until just combined; stir in the apples.

3.  Spoon the batter into the prepared donut pans until almost full. Baked until golden and a tooth pick inserted in the center comes out dry. It takes about 15-20 minutes. (Mind ended up taking 18)

4.  In a small, microwaveable bowl, combine the caramel and milk. Microwave for 1 minute at medium power. then stir; repeat in 30 second intervals until melted and smooth. If making small donuts, dip them directly into the caramel. For larger donuts, spoon caramel topping on top.

Minature Apple Pie Puffs with Caramel Sauce
(Via Snixy Kitchen)

Pie Ingredients:
(Make approximately 25-30)
  • 2 boxes of Betty Crocker’s just-add-water pie crust dough (or four homemade pie crust dough)
  • 2 Tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 3-4 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and chopped into ¼-inch pieces
  • 2 Tablespoons of granulated sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 3 Tablespoons of brown sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons of cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon of salt
  • Pinch of ground nutmeg
  • Pinch of ground cloves
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1 ½ Tablespoons of flour
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
Caramel Sauce Ingredients:
(Makes around 2 cups)
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • ¼ cup of water
  • ½ cup of heavy cream
  • 1 Tablespoon of butter
  • Dash of salt

Pie Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 425ºF. Melt butter in large pan over medium heat. Add apples, sugar, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, cloves, and lemon juice. Cook, stirring, until apples are softened to your preference, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in flour. Cool.

2.  Roll out pie crust and use cookie cutter or cup to cut 2-inch circles. Brush egg on inside edge of  3/4 of the circumference of the circle. Lay another circle on top and press the edges together where egg is to seal, leaving an 1-inch opening at the top to fill.

3.  Place a tablespoon (more or less) of apple filling into the pocket, and press pocket closed. Crimp edges with your fingers. Lay on a parchment lined baking sheet. Brush tops of pie puffs with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown. Drizzle with warm caramel sauce.

Caramel Sauce Directions:

1.  Measure out cream, butter, and salt and keep them handy. In a 2-quart saucepan, add water and sugar, making sure that sugar is not stuck to the side. Turn heat to medium high, and insert candy thermometer.

2.  As sugar starts to melt, stir to make sure sugar distributes evenly. Stop stirring and continue cooking. Watch CAREFULLY. As soon as the mixture begins to turn color, it will change very fast. Just as the candy thermometer reaches about 320ºF and the caramel is an amber color, remove from heat and pour in cream all at once (Stand back as it will react and sizzle quite a bit). If the caramel gets too dark before you remove it from the heat, it’ll taste burned and bitter.

3.  Add butter and salt. When the sizzling calms down, return to medium low heat and cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes. Pour into a cup or bowl and let cool a bit before drizzling with caramel sauce.

What a super cute and unique way to incorporate the traditional caramel apple flavor with a modern twist. Show off these fabulous Fall goodies at your next harvest-inspired bridal shower, pumpkin carving competition with friends and family, or "little pumpkin" baby shower.

So the next time you're craving a sweet and salty taste of a crispy caramel apple but don't have a local orchard nearby, just step into your kitchen, pick a few of these treats, and start your own caramel apple tradition with the ones you love. Have a wonderful weekend!


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