Well, this is interesting. I’ve thought about starting a blog for a few months now, but on the day I happen to have something worth saying, it just happens to be Halloween. That makes my blogiversary Halloween too, my celebratory contests should be fun. Now on to the show. This one features my version of a caramel baked apple recipe that’s been bouncing around Pinterest.
I recommend this be baked with the apples placed in a glass or enamel casserole dish. If you don’t have a double boiler, I recommend a stainless steel bowl set on a pot of boiling water. If you don’t have a steel bowl, use the thickest metal sauce pan you have. Preheat your oven to 350°F.
Bloomin’ Apple (for four apples)
- 4 apples (I like how Gala apples work with this recipe) that have had their tops cut off and have been cored, then cut in a grid pattern like the picture shown.
- 8 Tablespoons (one stick, or 1/4 a cup) butter
- 4 Tablespoons brown sugar, or a natural and unprocessed sugar
- 1 Tablespoon Corn Starch (this thickens the sauce so it dribbles more slowly as it melts over the apple, allowing for even seasoning)
- 1 teaspoon each of powdered ginger root and cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon each of salt, nutmeg and allspice.
Caramel Sauce (use either)
- 20 pieces of caramel candies with 2 Tablespoons of butter melted on low or in a double broiler.
- In a double broiler, melt: 1 cup brown sugar (packed), 1/2 cup whipping cream or half and half, 4 Tablespoons of butter (chopped), and a pinch of salt together. Stir frequently until sauce thickens. Remove from heat. For a butterscotch twist, stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla extract while cooling.
Bloomin’ Baked Apples (from gunnysack.com) is a fantastic baked apple recipe, especially for this time of the year. It is simple, and seems easy enough. I love seasonal treats, I love the holidays, and I love alleviating my boredom by pretending I’m Donna Reed. So, I decided to indulge my domestic side and make this the feature treat for the autumn and winter holidays. Naturally I had to add my own personal touch to things as well, and I ended up with something so different from the original you might wish to see both and decide what fits your style best.
Unfortunately, I do not have a narrow, thin knife that the original recipe called for. I have an apple corer that I’d never used before, so I enjoyed that part of the prep, but carving the circles around the hollowed out center proved to be impossible with my thick little paring knife. My cuts would not allow my apple to bloom, meaning it wouldn’t take in heat evenly or brown properly. Also, I don’t own a microwave, and I think this changed part of the recipe as well. My apple took forever to cook, didn’t seem properly seasoned, and the caramel did not spread. So I fixed it for the tools I have available and some of my favorite seasonings. The best change was to slice the apple in the grid like pattern shown above. I found that having no circles made this much simpler and quicker to cut with my clumsy knife.
In the next step, as I said, I do not have a microwave. Odd of me, I know. I’m quite happy being behind the times. So, I took two tablespoons of butter per apple and let it set on the counter for twenty minutes. Then I used the back of a fork to blend in the dry goods, mashing the mixture to an icing like consistency, and then I smeared it on to the top of my apples as if I were icing a cupcake. Save a tablespoon or two of the butter mixture for later, to loosen the sauce on the bottom of the pan after baking.
Notice how the back one is missing a sliver from a slice being cut too far, causing the piece to fall off. My knife skills need some honing up.
I bake them at 350°F for twenty minutes. Some varieties of apples may take longer. When the apples are done, remove them from the oven and use a fork and a spatula (trust me, the fork helps) to place the apples in individual bowls and arrange the “blooms”. Take the rest of the butter that you set aside before baking and add the rest of the seasoned butter to the pan or dish the apples baked in. Loosen the browned bits with a spatula and pour this sauce over the apples as they wait for the caramel. Save some of this apple butter sweet deglaze for sauces you might be making soon, it seems like it would go well with citrus sauces, or maybe some dessert cream cheese sauces could have a bit of it whipped in.
The final step is, naturally, to top with the sweet caramel sauce. Yes, I could have stuck candies inside the apples, but I wanted to make sure that my apples were evenly distributed with caramel goodness. Since I couldn’t melt them in the microwave, I tried both versions of the caramel sauce. The sauce with the candies has more of a traditional caramel apple flavor, but it seems a bit simple for the baked apples. It was good, I’ll probably make it again if serving kids, but the brown sugar and cream sauce makes a perfect version for adults at a festive setting. I bet some rum in the deglaze would be interesting, or cider.
These methods make very buttery caramel, and this was possibly the best homemade dessert I believe I have ever put into my mouth. It actually rivaled something I might expect to find in a restaurant. It was like heaven punched me in the face. I was tempted to try topping with something like coarse sea salt, crushed graham crackers, homemade vanilla whipped cream, melted dark chocolate, or vanilla ice cream… but then I thought I didn’t know if I wanted to mess with perfection.
Update: I’ve been having fun the last few days using my leftover caramel and heavy cream. I splurged and got a full quarter gallon. A spoon of cream and a spoon of caramel added to hot chocolate or fresh coffee is seriously brightening my chilly fall weather. I also spooned the caramel over pumpkin biscuits, I hope I have enough the next time I make pancakes or muffins. I may be splurging on cream for caramel more often.
Update again: Okay I fully admit that the success of this apple stunned me. I did not expect it to go that well, and I seem to have really impressed myself. Over the last two days I’ve actually found myself stressed out at a couple of points and stopped and told myself, “Hey, it can’t be that bad. I made the shit out of that apple, didn’t I?”