Saturday, October 13, 2012

Girls' Day

Russ is elk hunting this weekend, so Addison and I had a girls' day. Fun times! We watched cartoons, had a visit from Grandpa Kenny, made chili, and then we tried a recipe for chocolate chip pumpkin cookies. I'll let the pictures show what a blast we had...

Chili in the crock pot...
Cutest sous-chef ever!

And no, we didn't need tongs for the cookies, but she likes them...

I love how pumpkin tastes, but I'm not gonna' lie, this batter made me have AB diaper flashbacks... (minus the chocolate chips...)
The raw state didn't help the look much...

Ahhh, much better! Now they just look like regular chocolate chip cookies with a little jaundice...


The next few shots show a progression of Addison enjoying her cookie...

This is the look I got when I asked her if she was done...

Hesitant at first, and then she just goes for it. Love that little girl! She loves chocolate just like her Momma. The entire time she's eating she's saying, "Mmmmm..." So stinking cute!

What are you making today???

Monday, October 8, 2012

Amazing Apples

I love Fall- it's definitely my favorite time of year. The weather, the colors, the food- I heart it all. One of the best things is something my Mom is famous for- Chocolate Caramel Apples. These things are stinking amazing and famous from Indy to Wyoming and back again. So when one of Russ' cousins requested some this afternoon, I was more than happy to oblige. Especially since it meant I would have two great assistants to pass on the tradition to...

Here's the process:

Prepare two double boilers to melt your chocolate

Assemble your cast of characters: Granny Smith apples, semi-sweet chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, Gulf wax, parchment paper, popsickle sticks, and Peter's caramel

The caramel is what makes these apples SOOOO amazing. I buy it online at a baking website, or you can check with your local candy shop. It melts beautifully and is so creamy and delicious. Sigh...

Prepare your apples by peeling off the stickers, removing the stems, and inserting your sticks. Notice the adorable assistant (and Lindsay behind her...)

Apples ready to be dipped. Melt your caramel in the microwave in 1-minute increments until bubbly and completely melted. Dip each apple in the caramel and let the excess drain before returning them to the parchment paper.

And if you have left-over caramel, DO NOT throw it out. That would be sacrilegious. Use it up on something yummy- like pretzel rods!

While your caramel is setting, melt some Gulf wax over a double boiler. Once it is melted, add some white chocolate chips and melt them all together.

Do the same with some more Gulf wax and semi-sweet chocolate chips.

I forgot to take a picture of the apples dipped in the caramel. Just pop any air bubbles and smooth out the bottoms where the caramel puddles. Then dip them in the melted semi-sweet chocolate mixture.

Don't forget to dip your pretzel rods too!

Once the semi-sweet chocolate has set up a bit, drizzle the apples with the white chocolate mixture.

You can also drizzle on more semi-sweet chocolate for a layered look...

Pretzel sticks turned out pretty good too!

Close-up shot. Yummo!!!

These were going to be a gift, so we wrapped them in plastic wrap, then wrapped them in tissue paper and tied a bow with some ribbon. You can also use pretty cellophane paper or plastic candy bags.

So good! Here are a few extra tips:

  • I have tried apples with other caramel- some try the little caramel pieces, some make homemade caramel. I'm telling you- Peter's is the only way to go! Totally worth the extra money, and a 5-lb loaf makes 24-30 apples.
  • I like using Granny Smith apples because the tart flavor really balances out the sweetness from the caramel and chocolate. 
  • The Gulf wax sounds weird, but a little really helps the chocolate stay shiny and set up nicely without tasting waxy. For six apples, I used half a block of wax for a 12-ounce bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips and half a block of wax for a 6-ounce bag of white chocolate chips. I had a little semi-sweet chocolate left over, and enough white chocolate to make at least a dozen more apples. I just refrigerate the chocolate to use again...
  • Make sure you pop the air bubbles after the caramel sets. If you don't, they can burst through the chocolate and get oozy and your apple won't last as long. Make sure you are sealing each layer as you dip to ensure it stays fresh longer.
  • I recommend eating these while they are still slightly warm, but you can totally let them set up for a few hours first, if you have the will power. I usually don't... But they will be fine for a few days in a cool place. Once you cut them, they need to be devoured or they will start to turn brown like apples do...
Let me know if you make them and how they turn out, or if you have any questions. Enjoy!!!