Sunday, April 30, 2006

The Battle Of The Apple


It's almost over. It started as a grand adventure. A fun way to create a product for raising money. Who doesn't love caramel apples. And even better, who wouldn't love a caramel apple loaded with goodies and chocolate. Little did I know how much of a hassle the last two days would be!! I was looking forward to the challenge. Thursday Zander and I did our shopping. Pounds of butter, brown sugar, and half and half started the process. Then I added 15 bags of assorted REAL chocolate chips, followed by 4 pounds of Whoppers, 2 1/2 pounds of Peanut Butter Cups, 4 Boxes of Cereal, plenty of nuts, coconut, and mini marshmallows. Finally, the gilding, the cello bags and the wooden sticks necessary to facilitate the dunking process.

So. A few days last week I made a couple of batches of caramel so that all I would have to do is melt them in a crock pot for dunking. So Saturday morning I washed 72 Granny Smith Apples and gave each of them a stick. I moved on to crush Whoppers, chop PB cups, chop almonds, and crush granola a little more fine than what it was. I prepared each of my mixtures, and then proceeded with the caramel. I tossed the two previous batches of caramel into a Nesco roaster and turned it on to low. Then turned to the stove and proceeded with a double batch of caramel. I was thinking that 4 batches would be enough, but had ingredients for one more batch in reserve. I pulled my thermometer out, and wouldn't you know it! The glass bulb snmapped in two. Unbelieveable. Lucky for me, I have a probe thermometer, and I guessed that would just have to do. My pan was just big enough for that double batch- it came within 1.4 inch of the top of the pan. Whew. Things were going my way and looking up. about 40 minutes later, I had a ready double batch and proceeded to dump it into my roaster with the two that were softening. Some of that caramel was still pretty firm, so I started stirring it all together.

Of course, 5 minutes later I notice slime. I see a layer of grease. Sigh. I thought that maybe I could still plunge the apples...yeah right. Now anyone who's made candy before would realize that my butter had separated and that put me back about 30 minutes, because I needed to add water and start the cooking process again to bring it back together. I was really worried about this. I had four batches of caramel here, which meant that I needed to pull out my large stainless pot- which tends to burn candy. I forged ahead, and before long I had my caramel ready for dipping. I moved very quickly, I was so worried about burning. So I started dunking and rolling, dunking and rolling, and it was actually going fairly well. I did have problems with my PB cups melting and sliding off, so I had to give the dipped apples an extra little bit of time to cool before pressing in the goodies. Well, I am down to about 17 apples when the darn caramel separates again. By this time, it's getting darker, and I didn't think I could save it a second time successfully. So I halted, and figured that I could get back to the apples today with a fresh batch of caramel.

So last night I gave those apples plenty of time to firm up before melting my assorted chocolates. The chocolate is the fun part. Everyone knows that I love to play with chocolate. So I drizzled and drizzled, and they were looking pretty darn good. I had already figured that I needed to stay up pretty late last night because after the chocolate set, I needed to wrap each one up individually in a cello bag. Yeah, only I picked up the wrong size cello bags, and there was no way I was squeezing these apples in. So as I type this, my dear husband is on his way back into Green Bay to pick up the larger size of bags for the apples. So annoying. (Not my husband, the bags.)

So, in summary. I have suffered lack of sleep, two blisters, one sliver, and bare minimum if a dozen burns that range from most of my fingertips to my forearms to my tongue. I broke a candy thermometer again, and my kids are annoyed that they can't eat the apples. But hey, here are my soldiers ready to do battle. And they look pretty darn good if I say so myself. So I'm off to clean my house now and get ready for Sunday Company Dinner.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

wow....those look amazing! Would you share how to make carmel? thanks. wendy