(Featured Recipe: Gourmet Caramel Chocolate-Dipped Apples)
Who can resist gourmet apples during the fall, or any time of the year for that matter? I certainly can’t. When the fall arrives, I’m always on board for making gourmet apples or doing a caramel and candy apple bar with friends- but, I have to say, I do prefer caramel dipped apples to candy apples. I enjoy the taste and texture of golden, soft caramel with crisp, tart green or red apples. And since I tend to do things a little extra, I like to dip my apples in caramel then double dip them in chocolate before adding toasted nuts, praline nuts, or other toppings- and finishing them off with chocolate drizzle. I have fun making them, but even more fun eating them! For some creative ideas for setting up your own bar, you can check out Tastes Of The Seasons-Caramel Apple Bar.
Feeling Good About Apples
My favorite apple varieties to use for gourmet apples are Granny Smith and Braeburn; these apples are sharp, crisp, juicy and tart. The flavor of the Braeburn is a combination of sweet and tart. Both of these apple varieties are great to use for cooking. And the Granny Smith apples are also a good choice to use for making cider.
So while I’m sinking my teeth into a deliciously rich and irresistible gourmet apple- I can feel good about the fact that apples offer some incredible health benefits. They are abundantly rich in dietary fiber, antioxidants and flavanoids. Apples may also help reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and hypertension because of the phytonutrients and antioxidants they contain. ¹ They also provide multiple nutrients and compounds that help aid in good health and weight management. Consuming one apple, which counts as one cup of fruit, helps you meet the American Heart Association recommendation to eat at least 4-1/2 cups of fruits and vegetables a day.² If you’d like to learn about some other awesome benefits, then you’ll want to read 15 Health Benefits of Eating Apples.
How I like to Do It
There are a lot of ways you can make fancy, delish gourmet apples. You really can’t go wrong with whichever types of coatings and toppings you choose to use. They can be made with just caramel and toppings…with caramel and chocolate only…with caramel, chocolate and all kinds of toppings. The way I like to do it is to use caramel and two types of chocolate (one for contrast). But I also have my moments in which I go a little wild and go all out, using all three types of chocolate- dark, milk and white- then topping the apples with toasted or praline nuts and even with some dried or candied fruit.
Making gourmet apples is also a fun project to do with your children. You can let them get as food crafty as they’d like. And they especially may enjoy making holiday-themed gourmet apples, using milk or dark chocolate and orange-tinted white chocolate for Halloween and Thanksgiving along with toppings such as harvest mix candy and candy corn. And for Christmas, green and red candy-coated chocolate, candy cane pieces, or Christmas nonpareils can be used as toppings. A holiday decoration (safe, non-toxic small stuffed pumpkin or turkey plush toys and mini wreath ornaments) can be placed onto the craft stick of your holiday-themed apple to make it even more festive. For healthier versions of the various types of candy toppings, visit your local health and wellness markets.
A gourmet apple can be a beautiful and impressive gift to give to someone…just wrap the apple in clear plastic wrap and place it in a cellophane bag then tie with a piece of ribbon. There are so many fun and creative ways to make your gourmet apples. We would love to read about some of your fun ideas for a caramel apple bar and about some of the food crafty ways you prefer to decorate your apples- so please share your comments below.
The Gourmet Caramel Chocolate-Dipped Apple recipes in this month’s blog include Milk Chocolate Caramel Apple with Praline Pecans (drizzled with White Chocolate), Dark Chocolate Caramel Apple with Toasted Walnuts (drizzled with Milk & Dark Chocolate), and Dark Chocolate Caramel Apple with Dried Cherries (drizzled with White & Dark Chocolate). The variation includes Dark Chocolate Caramel Apple with Praline Almonds (drizzled with Milk & White Chocolate).
|GOURMET CARAMEL CHOCOLATE-DIPPED APPLES
Recipe By Shirell Dalton, The Simple Chocolatier
Active Time: 45 minutes
Yields 3 gourmet apples
3 medium Granny Smith or Braeburn Apples
1 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup dried cherries, halved or chopped
11 ounce bag of Kraft Caramels
3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
1 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
1/2 tablespoon butter, softened
Dark Chocolate Blend:
1 cup good quality bittersweet chocolate chips or baking bar (roughly chopped)– see note below
1 cup good quality semi-sweet chocolate chips or baking bar (roughly chopped)– see note below
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 cup good quality milk chocolate chips or baking bar (roughly chopped)– see note below
1/2 tablespoon coconut oil
1 cup good quality white chocolate baking bar (roughly chopped)– see note below
Or use 1 cup Trader Joe’s White Chocolate Baking Chips
1/2 tablespoon coconut oil
Note: Use chocolate that contains cocoa butter and not a cocoa butter substitute such as palm kernel oil. If using chocolate baking bars, roughly chop the chocolate into small pieces for melting purposes.
Thoroughly wash each apple and pat dry. Remove the apple stems then insert a wood craft stick or skewer into each apple. Dip the apples into the caramel and place onto a plate or tray lined with a well-buttered piece of wax paper (or parchment paper). Place the plate or tray of caramel coated apples in the refrigerator to set. Follow the instructions below to make each variety of gourmet apples.
To make the Caramel– Use 25 Kraft Caramels. Unwrap each caramel and place in a ceramic or glass microwave safe bowl. Add 3 tablespoons of heavy whipping cream. Microwave for 2 minutes. Remove from microwave and stir with a wooden spoon. If the caramel is not smooth, return to the microwave for 1 minute more then remove and stir. Any unused portion can be stored tightly covered in the refrigerator. When using the caramel for a recipe, remove it from the refrigerator and microwave until smooth.
To make the Praline Pecans– Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Use the 1/2 tablespoon of butter to grease a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. You can also use a well-buttered square glassware baking dish. Stir the pecans, brown sugar and whipping cream together then pour onto the lined baking sheet. Place in the oven for 4 minutes then remove and turn the praline pecans once with a wooden spoon. Return to the oven for about 3 more minutes. Remove the praline pecans from the oven and spoon onto a plate lined with the well-buttered wax or parchment-lined paper. Spread the pecans flat onto the plate. Do not allow the nuts to be piled together. Allow the praline pecans to cool. Store any unused praline pecans (well wrapped and placed in a plastic freezer bag) in the freezer for up to 3 months.
To make the Toasted Walnuts– Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the walnuts onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Roast the walnuts in the oven for about 5 to 6 minutes until they are slightly browned and smell toasted. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
To prepare the Melted Chocolate– you will need to melt each type of chocolate (dark chocolate blend, milk chocolate, and white chocolate) separately in a dry microwave-safe glass or ceramic bowl. For the Dark Chocolate Blend– combine the bittersweet and semi-sweet chocolate and add the coconut oil. Place in the microwave for 30 seconds then remove and stir with a dry wooden spoon or rubber spatula (no metal); repeat this process at shorter intervals, stirring every 15-20 seconds. Once the pieces are mostly melted (the remaining bits will melt in the residual heat), remove from the microwave and stir until chocolate is completely melted and smooth. For the Milk Chocolate– repeat the same melting process as above. For the White Chocolate– repeat the same melting process as above but use shorter interval times. Place the white chocolate in the microwave for 20 seconds then remove and stir; repeat this process at shorter intervals, stirring every 10-15 seconds.
Milk Chocolate Caramel Apple with Praline Pecans (drizzled with White Chocolate)– dip a caramel coated apple into the melted milk chocolate and place onto a plate lined with wax paper. Place the apple in the refrigerator until the chocolate sets. Remove from the refrigerator and dip the apple once more into the milk chocolate. Roll the lower half of the apple into the praline pecans. Drizzle the top half of the apple with white chocolate. Place onto the wax paper-lined plate and return to the refrigerator to set.
Dark Chocolate Caramel Apple with Toasted Walnuts (drizzled with Milk & Dark Chocolate)– dip a caramel coated apple into the melted dark chocolate and place onto a plate lined with wax paper. Place the apple in the refrigerator until the chocolate sets. Remove from the refrigerator and dip the apple once more into the dark chocolate. Roll the lower half of the apple into the toasted walnuts. Drizzle the top half of the apple with milk chocolate then with dark chocolate. If you prefer, you can do extra layering of milk and dark chocolate drizzle. Place the gourmet apple onto the wax paper-lined plate and return to the refrigerator to set.
Dark Chocolate Caramel Apple with Dried Cherries (drizzled with White & Dark Chocolate)– dip a caramel coated apple into the melted dark chocolate and place onto a plate lined with wax paper. Place the apple in the refrigerator until the chocolate sets. Remove from the refrigerator and dip the apple once more into the dark chocolate. Top the upper portion of the apple with the dried cherries. Drizzle white chocolate over the cherries and upper portion of the apple. Place the apple in the refrigerator until the chocolate sets then remove and drizzle with dark chocolate. Place in the refrigerator to set. Remove from the refrigerator and drizzle with more white chocolate. If you prefer, you can do extra layering of white and dark chocolate drizzle. Place the gourmet apple onto the wax paper-lined plate and return to the refrigerator to set.
Dark Chocolate Caramel Apple with Praline Almonds (drizzled with Milk & White Chocolate)– Use chopped almonds in place of the pecans to make praline almonds. Dip the caramel coated apple into melted dark chocolate. Follow the directions above for dipping the apple. Drizzle the gourmet apple with milk and white chocolate.
Toppings – Other toppings to use can include toasted coconut, toasted pistachios or other nuts, dried blueberries or cranberries, white chocolate (also milk or dark chocolate) ganache drizzle, and more.
Dark, Milk or White Chocolate: The gourmet apples can be dipped in and drizzled with the chocolate of your choice. You can use bittersweet, semi-sweet, dark chocolate blend, milk or white chocolate for any of the varieties listed above.
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1. Nordqvist, J. (2017, April 11). Apples: Health benefits, facts, research. Medical News Today. Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/267290.php
2. Cespedes, A. (2017, October 3). What Are the Benefits From Eating an Apple? Livestrong.com. Retrieved from https://www.livestrong.com/article/387270-what-are-the-benefits-from-eating-an-apple
Yes! More RECIPES :)