If you love caramel dipped apples, you’ll love these almost bite-sized, miniature peanut butter caramel dipped apples! Using tiny apples, like lady apples, gives you a more manageable caramel apple, and less calories, though not any less delicious and enjoyable! Easier on the teeth too!
One of my first childhood cooking memories (by myself) is one I remember as if it happened yesterday. It’s crystal clear; every detail engraved into my brain matter like the inscription on the bracelet given to me by my first case of puppy love;
“I will love you forever – R”
Hmmm, I guess that means he still loves me, huh? ;D
I think I was about 4 or 5, and my Mother was resting in bed with a cold. I was watching a PBS show called Zoom (OH – 2-1-3-4 – send it to Zoom!), and they had a little cooking segment which I always looked forward to. I’m not sure they actually ever cooked anything, but it was food preparation, which was new and exciting to me. How to spread peanut butter on apples! With a plastic knife, of course.
I went into the kitchen, grabbed the peanut butter, a plastic knife from a bag in the drawer, a few apples. and pulled a chair (or stool, the one detail that’s a bit fuzzy) to the counter. I climbed up and proceeded to ‘host’ my own cooking show, teaching my imaginary audience how to spread peanut butter on sliced apples.
Recreating my first cooking show and the mess.
After about 30 minutes; apple pieces strewn all over the floor, smears of peanut butter all over me, the counter, and the cupboards, my Mother, obviously having heard me talking to myself in a loud, cheery voice for a longer period of time than usual, decided to investigate. She screamed, she freaked; she shrieked.
“OMG. look at this mess! What did you doooo!?! Wait until your father gets home!! I’m going to leave this mess for him to see!”
A whack on the butt, then sent to my room (isn’t that called child abuse nowadays?).
Regardless of the outcome, it was a moment of discovery, and a fond memory that always slivers its way into my answer when asked about how and when I got into cooking, baking, pastry, etc.
So now it’s Fall and Halloween is approaching. Most markets are loaded with pumpkins and apples, but the ones that have caught my eye are the cutest, tiniest, green apples with just a blush of red. They’re about 2-inches in diameter, and have been beckoning me with their shiny blush every time I walk by. I finally couldn’t resist and bagged a dozen of these little lady apples (not to be confused with Pink Lady apples). I knew exactly what I wanted to do with them. Miniature caramel apples!
It’s been ages since I’ve had a caramel dipped apple, and since these apples are so small, the amount of caramel consumed would be minuscule and easy on the toofies. But wait, just plain old caramel? No way. I needed to revisit my first cooking show. There was definitely going to be peanut butter involved, and no one was sending me to my room this time.
To show you how small Lady apples are, I placed one next to a medium Fuji apple. Lady apples are tiny..about 3-inches in diameter
When I got home, I saw I was out of peanut butter. I cursed myself silently while checking the mail, then noticed a package on the doorstep. When I opened it, I couldn’t believe my eyes or luck, two jars of Planter’s peanut butter! Divine intervention? Well, not exactly, more like perfect timing. I had opted in to receive these jars from Planters via the Foodbuzz Tastemaker’s Program and the National Peanut Board, about a week or less before (you all know what a peanut butter freak I am). Things like this don’t normally happen to me since I’m sort of the living, breathing, walking, talking epitome of Murphy’s Law aka Queen Murphy’s Law.
Frankly, I’d love nothing more than to abdicate that throne, and this was certainly a good start!
Upon researching the lady apple, I saw I wasn’t the first to think of dipping these little mamas. Martha, of course, had dipped the ladies years before, as well as Peggy Cullem, but did they dip them in a peanut butter caramel? I think not. Then I realized I didn’t have any candy apple or popsicle sticks on hand. Once again, things went my way. I recalled Martha using tree twigs as sticks. I always loved that idea and in fact, she used them to dip her lady apples, as did Peggy Cullem.
OK, so outside of the peanut butter in the caramel, no real originality, but who cares? These were going to be so cute and so well-received. Perfect little 3 or 4 biters of tart, sweet, healthy apple with barely enough caramel to even come close to ruining your diet or teeth (unless you eat more than two of these in one sitting, which I did, of course).
They’re also perfect little Halloween party favors, or a great trick-or-treat goodie or sweet snack for the kids that won’t result in them swinging from the chandelier with an embossed invitation to join the cavity creep brigade.
I used the caramel recipe from my passion fruit filled bonbons, futzed with the amount of ingredients a bit, and added peanut butter and vanilla, but this time I used Peggy Cullem’s method for making the caramel, and it worked.
Roll these cutie-pie, dipped apples in chopped peanuts, sprinkles, candy, or anything you like outside of nuts and bolts (unless you really dislike the recipient). If you’d like, dip the lower half of each apple in melted chocolate once the caramel sets, or just drizzle with chocolate. They’re also beautiful simply dipped in the peanut butter caramel with no extra decor aka calories; it’s entirely up to you!
Miniature Caramel Apples
- 12 to 14 Lady apples (or the smallest apples you can find)
- 12 twigs or popsicle sticks.
- 1 cup granulated white sugar, divided
- ½ cup water
- ½ cup light corn syrup
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup hot heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ¼ cup peanut butter
- Thoroughly wash and dry apples and twigs. Stick twigs into apples and set aside on a parchment lined baking sheet.
- Place ½ cup of the sugar and water in a medium saucepan. Set over medium-high heat and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook until light amber in color, about 5-7 minutes. Use a pastry brush dipped in water to wash down sides of pan to prevent crystallization as the mixture boils. While the sugar and water is coming to a boil, in another pot, bring heavy cream to a boil, then remove from heat and set aside.
- Remove sugar -water saucepan from the heat and gradually whisk in the remaining half cup of sugar, corn syrup, hot heavy cream, salt and butter (STAND BACK..it will bubble and gurgle like crazy - you could burn yourself! Also, the mixture will seem like it's seizing, but keep stirring until smooth.). Return to the heat and insert a candy thermometer. Cook until the thermometer registers 240 Fahrenheit, about 5 to 6 minutes. Let cool for about 1 minute, then stir in the vanilla extract and peanut butter until smooth.
- Working quickly, dip the lady apples into the caramel, letting any excess drip back into the pan. If caramel is still too thin for dipping, wait another minute or two and try again, until the peanut butter caramel coats it thickly. Set the dipped apples on the prepared baking sheet (roll in toppings immediately after dipping, if using). If the caramel becomes too thick while dipping, gently rewarm it over low heat. Let the caramel apples cool for at least 1 hour before serving.
October is #applelove month!
Please join in on the #applelove fun by linking up any apple recipe from the month of October 2011. Don’t forget to link back to this post, so that your readers know to come stop by the #applelove event. The twitter hashtag is #applelove.
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