Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Drunken Salted Caramel Apples

In the spirit of being traditional this Halloween season, I embarked on an endeavor, to turn the classic caramel apple on its head and turn up the flavor. In my mind, nothing enhances flavor better than a good dark spiced rum, it gives it just the right amount of, how shall I put this....."alcoholic-goodness?" Two weeks ago I made a delicious salted caramel sauce, the kind you dream of bathing in, courtesy of Brown Eyed Baker. The tempting amount that has taken up refuge in the fridge, and the surplus of apples have forced me to make them into something delicious. The only way to make this salted caramel apple even better is to drizzle it with rum infused vanilla glaze, right? The resulting concoction has helped to give me new appreciation for Halloween traditions, now to conquer other various holiday treats! Stay tuned.

Drunken Salted Caramel Apples

Salted Caramel Sauce (recipe follows)
Rum Infused Vanilla Drizzle (recipe follows)
Gala Apples, I find that they work best for this, not too sweet and not too tart!

Salted Caramel Sauce

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon Fleur de Sel, French flaked sea salt found in specialty stores

Heat the sugar over medium heat, stirring often with a whisk, any clumps that form will melt back into the sauce. Continue cooking until the sugar has reached 350 degrees when tested with a candy thermometer and the sugar has turned a deep amber color. Here is where the kitchen pyrotechnics begin, add the butter all at once and quickly whisk as it will boil up. Remove the pan from the heat and carefully add the cream, it will try and kill you again with awesomely sweet bubbles of sugar, so beware! Mix slowly until the cream has created a smooth sauce, add in the flaked sea salt and you have survived making caramel. Easier than you thought, huh? This can be saved in a sealed Mason jar for up to two weeks, or however long your midnight cravings last.

Rum Infused Vanilla Drizzle

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 capful of Capt. Morgan's Dark Spiced Rum
  • Food coloring, if desired
This is quite possibly the most foolproof recipe I have ever found for vanilla glaze, God bless you, Betty Crocker. Simply mix all the ingredients together in a bowl, adding food coloring if you wish. I suggest one capful of rum, but everyone's different, sometimes the occasion just calls for more...

Now the simplest instructions ever:
Ladle warm caramel sauce over apple until evenly coated
Place in freezer for 10 minutes, then repeat the previous step
Drizzle with vanilla glaze and place in freezer for 10 minutes again
Set it out to thaw and enjoy!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Petit Fours

I took a much needed hiatus from working on the food blog to cultivate some of my other writing, I was met with both success and failure. But the one event that was able to roust me from the ever-growing pile of research material and crumpled failed attempts at poetry was the first birthday of my youngest niece, Sadie aka Sadie-bug. While I can side with those who believe that a birthday party for a one year old is bordering on the ridiculous, (It's not like they will remember it, right?) it wasn't for her benefit but ours. So there. In honor of our vivacious little girl we decided to throw a traditional English tea party. There were peanut butter and jelly tea sandwiches, sparkling white grape juice, and the "be-all-to-end-all" petit fours. Now, for the sake of ease and the fact that when my mother and I plan anything we go all out with lace tablecloths and china tea cups; we used a boxed pound cake mix and canned frosting. But the end result was fantastic! They were the hit of the party and made for a darling centerpiece.

Petit Fours

  • 1 Box of Pound Cake Mix
  • 1 - 2 Tubs of Vanilla Frosting, depending on the desired cake to sugar ratio
  • Royal Icing (recipe follows)
Mix the cake as per the instructions, but be sure and use a half sheet pan, spread the batter evenly with a rubber spatula and bake as directed. We found, after trial and error, that placing the cake in the freezer for a few hours helped with both the cutting and frosting later. After you have the desired shapes set out on a wire rack with plenty of wax paper beneath for catching any strays, the fun part, I mean the frosting, can begin. The frosting can be easily heated up in the microwave until it reaches the right pouring consistency. Place the cakes on a small spatula and slowly spoon frosting over the top, ensuring that all sides are equally covered. Allow them to set up for 4 hours or overnight. 

Royal Icing

  • 4-6 Tablespoons of cold water
  • 3 Tablespoons of Meringue Powder
  • 4 cups Powdered Sugar
Whip the meringue powder and sugar together, when they have been sufficiently whipped add the cold water one tablespoon at a time until it reaches the desired consistency. We divided our icing and added artificial coloring for decorating, just be sure that you go pastel with your colors and not neon. This is a proper English dessert after all...

After the decorating has concluded they may look something like these!

Bear in mind, my piping skills still leave something to be desired, but it was for little girls who were just going to eat them for the sheer fact that they were cake covered in sugary icing.