Happy Halloween everyone!
I don’t have a spooky story for you, but I do have a culinary one if you are interested. If not, head on down to the recipe, you won’t be sorry.
I absolutely adore toffee apples, or candy apples as some of you will know them as. Unfortunately, my teeth don’t agree… I usually have to cut my toffee apples into quarters and by the end of it, I feel like my teeth are going to mutiny from the amount of crunchy sugar.
Caramel apples, on the other hand, especially when made with homemade caramel, are a lot softer and easier to bite through. Sure, the caramel still has a hell of a lot of sugar in it, but I think the softer texture helps, and it’s a great contrast to the crisp apple underneath.
So I painstakingly made my caramel, which for some reason, did not thicken up quite as much as it should have. It was, however, rich, creamy and oh so yummy that I may or may not have sneaked a couple of teaspoons out of the saucepan…
I thoroughly washed and dried my apples, and gently swirled them through the caramel. I set them aside and waited. I swirled them again, and again, and again until they developed a lovely layer of caramel that clung to apple in such a way that they were just begging for teeth marks.
So I bit in. Yep, yummy. Not quite a toffee apple, but yummy just the same. But not satisfying. Ah well, cook and learn. However, about an hour later, I was back in the kitchen staring at the remaining caramel and caramel apples…
Yes, I know apples are crunchy, but they are also juicy, and the toffee coating on toffee apples gives you a certain crunch that you just don’t get with the caramel. I missed the crunch. So, I painstakingly cored my sticky, gooey caramel apples, stuffed them with some crunchy nuts and some dried fruit, smothered them with more caramel and stuffed them in the oven.
The result? Baked but not mushy apples with a crunchy filling swimming in caramel. Tasty, crunchy and oh so very satisfying.
Salted Caramel Baked Apples
- 4 to 6 apples* (granny smith, pink lady or gala apples)
- ¼ cup mixed nuts** (chopped finely)
- ¼ cup dried apricots (chopped finely)
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- Pinch of nutmeg
- Pinch of allspice
- 185ml double cream
- 175g golden syrup
- 220g caster sugar
- 60g unsalted butter (halved)
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon vanilla essence
- ½ cup apple cider
- Wash the apples in warm water and dry very, very well with paper towels. Set aside.
- To make the slated caramel, combine 30g of butter with the cream, vanilla essence and sea salt in a saucepan. Cook over low heat for 3 minutes.
- In a separate saucepan, combine the sugar and the golden syrup, over low heat, and stir until the sugar has just dissolved. Gently continue to swirl the saucepan for 3 minutes or until the mixture has become golden in colour.
- Slowly and carefully, add the cream mixture to the caramel mixture. Note that it will begin to bubble as the two mixtures combine. Continue to cook, over low heat, for a further 5 minutes, or until smooth.
- Add the remaining butter and stir to combine until the caramel becomes thick and glossy.
- While the caramel is cooling, combine the nuts, dried apricots, brown sugar and spices in a bowl. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 180°C.
- Using a melon scooper, or a knife and teaspoon, hollow out the middle of the apples, making sure to not cut all the way through to the bottom.
- Pour the apple cider into an oven-proof casserole dish. Then, using tongs or metal skewers, gently and carefully dip each apple into the caramel and then place into a casserole dish, right side up.
- Fill each apple with the nut and apricot mixture and then drizzle about a half a cup of the caramel over the top and the sides of the apples.
- Place in the middle rack of the oven and cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on how tender you like your baked apples.
* Depending on the size of your apples, the recipe makes enough filling for 4 to 6 apples.
** I used a mixture of walnuts and pecans. Hazelnuts and macadamias would also work well if you are that way inclined.