Walking through a beach town last month, I passed the window of a confectionery with a fresh batch of caramel apples in the window. They were so beautiful, glistening brown caramel perfectly coating each apple. They are so tempting.
But then I remembered my experience with such a treat, and it's not pretty. They're hard to eat. Very messy (for similar reasons, I'm not a big fan of cupcakes). The apple inside is probably a red delicious, which isn't one of my favorite varieties. Plus, since the apple is coated in caramel, you can't really tell whether you're getting a good one or not.
But I love apples and I love caramel, so I thought about creating a dessert that honor these two flavors with a presentation more to my liking--something fully cooked that you eat with a knife and fork but still coated in yummy gooey caramel.
Having had success with roasting apples last year for a savory dish, I decided to do something similar but with sweeter dessert flavors. There are quite a few recipes for roasted stuffed apples that follow a pretty similar format: core the apple, fill the cavity with sugar, butter, nuts and sometimes grains, then roast with a little liquid in the bottom of the pan.
Roasted Stuffed Caramel Apples
4 honeycrisp apples
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup apple cider (may use apple juice)
Caramel sauce (see recipe below)
1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
2. Cut off the top 1/2 inch of each apple. Using a melon baller, core the apple about 2/3 of the way down, being sure to remove all of the seeds. This should leave a round cavity in the center of each apple about 1-inch across and about 2 inches deep.
3. In a small bowl, combine the butter, brown sugar, walnuts, cinnamon, cloves and salt, mashing the mixture with a fork to work the butter and sugar together. Divide the mixture between the apples and spoon it into the cored-out cavity of each apple.
4. Place the apples in a square 9 X 9 baking dish. Pour apple cider around the apples. Bake in the oven until the apples are soft when pierced with a fork, about 30 minutes. Allow the apples to cool about 5 minutes. Spoon caramel sauce over each apple and serve.
Adapted from a recipe by Bon Appétit, January 2013
1 cup sugar
1/8 tsp. cream of tartar
3 tbsp. water
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1. In a 4 qt. saucepan, whisk together sugar, cream of tartar and water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir it a bit to make sure the sugar dissolves evenly, but then let it cook unstirred until it starts to brown, about 5-6 minutes. Continue cooking, stirring a bit, until it reaches the color of honey. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is a deep amber color, about another 3-4 minutes (the times really don’t matter in this recipe and they may vary depending on your range—it’s the color stages that are important).
2. Remove saucepan from heat. Whisk in the butter (carefully, since it will sputter), then the cream (again, be careful) and then finally the salt. Allow the sauce to cool a bit and then transfer to an appropriate container: a glass jar, bowl or measuring cup (don’t use plastic if the mixture is still hot). Store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.