This may just end up being my ugliest, most photographically uninspiring post to date. I'm thinking that maybe I should just give up any caramel-related baking/candy-making in my kitchen. It never goes well.
So I'm working my way through this week's little list of comforting projects with my children. Yesterday's simple project was to make some miniature caramel apples.
Last week, when I was sitting in the doctor's office, I was thumbing through some parenting magazine–Family Fun? Parents? Not sure which. Anyway, I saw this little recipe that showed bite-size caramel apples. I didn't get to read the how-to because I was called in to see my doctor, but I remembered a melon-baller, toothpicks, and melted caramels.
I guess it would have been good to see the directions.
I was feeling pretty confident going in to things yesterday. Even went out and bought myself a melon-baller–something my kitchen was lacking.
I quickly discovered it is nearly impossible–okay, impossible for me–to make a perfect little circular apple bite like I saw in the magazine. As I made apple "chunks" with my melon baller, I had my kids stick toothpicks in all of them. I soon realized that the apples were turning brown too quickly and I hadn't even started melting the caramels bits yet.
So being the quick thinker that I am, I had the girls dip all the apple chunks into lemon juice to hold them off while I melted the caramel. Oh, I'm such a genius….I thought.
I melted the caramels and by this time, I had lost the attention of all my kitchen help and I was left to dip the balls myself. Fine. No biggie, sometimes, I admit, it's easier this way.
I started dipping, only to realize that my children didn't do a very good job of securely pushing the toothpicks into the apples. Before long I was fishing for chunk after chunk of apple in the quickly thickening, extremely hot caramel.
When I set the apples out on the parchment paper, I realized to my horror, that all the caramel was dripping down the sides of the balls, not sticking to the apple chunks at all and pooling all over the paper. And thanks to our generously sloping kitchen floors, was snaking it's way off the parchment paper and almost onto the floor.
So, then I decided to grab the one apple I had left and jam a popcicle stick into its top and coat it with the remainder of the caramel. I was determined to have some success in this deal. We'd divide up that apple and all share bites of its caramel-y, sweet and sour goodness, or something.
I dipped it in, set it out to harden…and then my kitchen help decided to reappear.
I forgot to mention that when I started this project, I thought it would be yummy to dip the apples in chopped peanuts. So I had a little plate of nuts sitting at the side. Then I changed my mind.
But while I was in the pantry trying to salvage the last of the caramel, my "help" decided to dip (drench) my only successful apple in the nuts. They patted on layer after layer, rolled it, dipped it…only to weigh it down so heavily with nuts that all the caramel sludged off the sides of the apple and puddled around the bottom.
Meanwhile, I was in the pantry desperately trying to figure out something to do with this remaining cup of caramel. Being the caramel genius that I am, I poured the rest out onto a baking sheet and then covered it with granola. It was the only thing I had on hand that I could think to dip into it. And at the moment it seemed like a really yummy combo.
I left it to cool and harden. I thought just maybe I had invented some new candy, some gourmet treat. Not so much. Pretty much just a puddle of chewy caramel with granola floating on the top of it.
So anyway, a good kitchen failure is good for keeping the old ego in check, I suppose. I guess next time I'll just swipe the magazine out of the doctor's office so I can actually follow the directions of someone who apparently has mastered the art of working with caramel. Or I'll just avoid caramel all together and stick to the store-bought, ready-made stuff when I need a fix.
Next up….turnips. Yes, turnips. One of the "perks" of having your husband work with a LOT of farmers? I always get interesting farm-fresh produce left on my kitchen counter.
Strangely, my children are clamoring for me to fix turnips tonight for supper. Something to do with their obsession with Little House on The Prairie, I suppose. Any suggestions? I've heard just cook them up and serve them like mashed potatoes.
I'll be sure to report.