Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Tuesday Treats: Caramel Apple Slices

I returned to our house (I love saying that!) one day and found a bag of apples on our front step. Completely anonymous, but still lovely to find. (It wasn't all together a surprise as there are a few apple trees in the neighborhood.) However, the apples are not the crisp great tasting ones that I could just snack on all day. They were the soft kind that I abhor eating (true story, I only eat crisp apples.) So I had a whole bag of apples and decided to dehydrate them (I didn't want a whole bag of apples to go to waste - especially FREE ones!)

Typically when I dehydrate apples I either just leave them plain in all their glorious appleness, or I put some cinnamon on them. However, this time hubby asked if I could put some brown sugar on the apples. So, reluctantly I tried it (grumble, this is making them unhealthy!). They were okay, and he ate the few that I actually put brown sugar on.

A bit later his idea clicked in my mind - what if I made a caramel sauce (using brown sugar so I didn't actually have to make caramel.) I tried it and LOVED it. So these little babies were born. Let me tell ya, if you have dehydrator (and a dishwasher that will wash all your trays...) these are a wonderful sweet snack (with some nutritional value behind it!)

(I must warn you that some of the pictures color is a bit off... without realizing it my son had tampered a bit with the screen colors so while they looked good when I did edited them, some don't look so great now... And as much as I love editing photos - I wasn't about to re-edit them!)
Caramel Apple Slices

You'll need 4 Tbsp butter.

You'll also need 1 cup brown sugar (packed lightly.)

Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat.

Once the butter is melted, add the brown sugar.

Stir in the brown sugar and break up all the clumps (as you can see, I haven't done that yet in this photo.)

Let the butter and sugar cook for a minute or two, stirring occasionally to frequently.

Next, you'll need about 1/2 cup milk.

Add 1/3 to 1/2 of the milk to the pan.

It will steam and puff a bit, just warnin' ya. Just ignore it's fussing and stir it in.

Once the milk is incorporated, add the rest of it.

It makes a fun pattern as it spreads through the caramel sauce... I had to watch it spread. You can just start mixing right away, or watch it spread out. I like to enjoy the small things in my day.

Once the milk is stirred in, simmer until the sugar is completely dissolved. (I usually simmer for 2 minutes afterward as well.)

What you'll have is a sauce that is absolutely delicious, but is also pretty runny. If you want it thicker, just leave out some of the milk. However, it is best to have it runny for this.

Once the sauce is ready, set aside for a few minutes while you get the apples ready.

You can slice the apples any way you want to, I'm just going to show you how I do it.

Just in case you're wondering what this little gadget is, it came with the jerky kit that came with my dehydrator. I don't think I've ever used it to make jerky, but I have used it to core apples a LOT. I just press it over the middle of the apple (where the stem comes out) and then remove it from the apple once it goes all the way through.

Looks easy enough, right? It is, except you'll need something to get the core out of the jerky thingy. I have used a wooden spoon handle, the cover to my meat thermometer and even a pen. Yes I did say a pen (granted it was pretty much on its way out and a cheap one as it was).

Once more thing, if the core is bigger than what you have to core it - you can use the tip of a old fashioned vegetable peeler to get inside and scoop out the rest.

Now that the apple is cored, it is time to slice it. I just used a regular knife and sliced it in typically uneven slices.

If you want even slices I suggest a mandolin or a food processor (of which I currently have neither.)

Once you've sliced the apple, you need to make sure to cut away any rotten or spoiled parts. If you notice any before slicing, you can do it then, but the smaller ones are harder to spot on an unpeeled apple.

Now back to that delicious caramel sauce - you may need to stir it to reincorporate everything before dipping the slices.

You'll want to have a strainer/colander over a bowl near the pan of caramel sauce.

Add some of the apple slices to the caramel sauce.

Be sure to coat them with the sauce completely.

Remove them from the pan and place into the strainer.

Let them sit for a bit - from 10 seconds to minutes depending on how much/little sauce you want on them. You need to let them drain or they will take FOREVER to dry (trust me on this one...)
One quick note - if you run out of sauce and want to make more - use a CLEAN pan or the sauce will not turn out right as the apple juice and small pieces will make it clump more.

Place each slice on a dehydrator tray. This WILL make the dehydrator VERY messy, so I'm just warning ya that you'll have to wash it later!

Repeat with all apples and sauce. This sauce was enough to coat all the apples for my 5 dehydrator trays.

Alternatively you could just place all the apple slices into a bowl and pour the caramel over it, then dump them all into a strainer. Funny, I just thought of that as I was typing this... seems like it would be SO much easier than how I just showed you. I'm going to try it next time and let you know.

I let my friend try these and she asked if it affected the time they would stay good for. Honestly, I don't know. (*Edit: The longer they sit they lose their crispness and become a bit softer - not quite soggy but close. They are better when eaten in the week they were made.)

But I can tell you that I probably will never have to find that out, they get eaten super fast! One batch of 5 trays fills up a quart bag and that's not much when it comes to snacking on these delicious treats!


1 comment:

  1. These look fantastic! Thanks so much for entering this last week in the Iron Chef Mom link-up/contest for Apples on Cheerios and Lattes! We look forward to your chocolate recipes this week! :)
    Mackenzie from the Iron Chef Mom Team :)


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