Ever wonder where the time goes? My mind is still in September but my body is in early December. Somehow I managed to operate at warp speed, get new clients, do another TV segment on WNYT - Newschannel 13 out of Albany, harvest our first meat chickens, attend my high school reunion, host the family for Thanksgiving, begin a jogging program along with a core strengthening pilates program...are you tired yet?
So how do I blog on a regular basis - how do I catch you up on all the yummy meals I have made in the last 2 months? Well I'll start with sharing my TV segment - Heirloom Trick or Treats.
Heirloom Caramel Apples
I’ll admit it, in a pinch I make caramel apples with Kraft caramel candy!! But, I am somewhat of a purist and food snob and I take pride in using real ingredients and making things from scratch. So here is a winner that is so simple that uses 3 real ingredients.
The only caveat is you need a candy thermometer but it’s worth having in your cooking gear arsenal!!
6 - 8 small apples, unwaxed, cold and craft sticks
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup honey
Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper.
Push the stick deep into each apple at the stem area.
Fill a large bowl 1/2 full with ice water and set aside.
In a medium, saucepan heat the cream and salt until tiny bubbles start forming where the cream touches the pan. Stir in the honey. Bring the mixture to a boil. Now reduce the heat to an active simmer and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, for about 15-20 minutes minutes or until the mixture reaches about 255-260 degrees on your candy thermometer.
To stop the caramel from cooking, set the bottom of the saucepan in the bowl of cold water. Stir until caramel begins to thicken up. Here is where there is a little bit of “art” - the caramel has to me thin enough to coat the apples but thick enough to stick. If the caramel thickens too much simply put the pot back over the burner for 10 seconds or so to heat it up a bit.
Tilt the sauce pan so all the caramel forms a pool on one side, then dunk and twirl each apple until it is thoroughly coated with caramel. Place each apple on the baking sheets and allow the caramel to cool and set. Enjoy!!
Caramel Apples using caramel candies
5 medium apples, washed, well dried
1 bag (11 oz.) KRAFT Caramel Bits
2 Tbsp. water
Insert one wooden pop stick (from bag of caramels) into stem end of each apple. Cover a baking sheet with waxed paper; spray with cooking spray. Set aside.
Place caramel bits in medium saucepan. Add water; cook on medium-low heat 3 min. or until caramel bits are completely melted, stirring constantly.
Dip apples into melted caramel until evenly coated, spooning caramel over apples if necessary. Allow excess caramel to drip off. Scrape bottoms of apples; place on prepared baking sheet. Refrigerate at least 1 hour. Remove from refrigerator 15 min. before serving. Store any leftover apples in refrigerator.
Caramel apples can be rolled in a variety of coatings for a sweet treat that is perfect for gift-giving or for serving on a special occasion, i.e: nuts, mini chocolate chips,
drizzled chocolate, drizzled white chocolate.
Cobweb Cupcake Icing
2 egg whites
21/2 to 3 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
Black or dark brown food coloring
Make whatever kind of cupcakes you like - from scratch or mix.
To make the icing, place the egg whites in a bowl. Using an electric mixer set on high speed, beat until soft peaks form. Add the confectioners' sugar, vanilla, and orange juice and continue to beat until thick and shiny. If too thick, add more orange juice. If too thin, add more confectioners' sugar.
Transfer 1/3 of the icing to a small bowl and color with black or dark brown food coloring. Spoon this dark icing into a pastry bag fitted with a tip, or pour it into a plastic squeeze bottle.
Now, ice the cupcakes and make the cobwebs: Spoon the white icing into the center of the cupcake and spread with a small spatula or butter knife. Starting at the center of a cupcake, pipe a spiral of the dark icing from the center to the outer edge. Then, drag a sharp knife point from the center of the spiral to the edge of the cupcake. Wipe the knife clean, move about a 1/2-inch to the left or right and drag the knife in the opposite direction from the outer edge to the middle of the cupcake. Continue in this way until you have worked your way around the cupcake and formed the cobweb. Repeat with the remaining cupcakes.
Chocolate Covered Pretzels
2 bags chocolate chips (dark or milk chocolate)
1 bag pretzels logs
Chopped nuts, for garnish, optional
Colored nonpareils, for garnish, optional
Sprinkles, for garnish, optional
Coconut, for garnish, optional
Melt chocolate in double boiler over medium heat on stove top. Using tongs, or your fingers, quickly dip pretzels in chocolate allowing the excess to run off. Place dipped pretzels on waxed paper lined cookie sheets. Sprinkle with chopped nuts, colored sugars or other toppings. Allow to harden. You may need to refrigerate for a while to help this along. Once hardened, remove from sheets and store in a cool location, with waxed paper between layers.
Tip: Package pretzels in clear cellophane bags or in vase for festive gift giving!