Tuesday, November 6, 2012

"Apple Pie" Caramel Apples Dipped in Homemade Vanilla Bean-Bourbon Caramel, Rolled in Cinnamon Sugar, Dunked in Vanilla Bean White Chocolate & a Homemade Milk Crumb Topping

"Apple Pie" Caramel Apples Dipped in Homemade Vanilla Bean-Bourbon Caramel,
Rolled in Cinnamon Sugar, Dunked in Vanilla Bean White Chocolate & a Homemade Milk Crumb Topping
I always loved making caramel apples as a kid. Of course, we did it the easy way... either melting store-bough caramels with a little cream or even buying those sheets of caramel that you just wrapped the apple in. And ya know, they were always good to us, we couldn't ever tell the difference. But, now that I've gotten older, I'm all about making everything from scratch and I scoff at the idea of buying caramel, when it is so delicious when you brew it up on your own. And you can add flavors to it that make it so wonderfully amazing. I decided to make a Vanilla Bean-Bourbon Caramel as the base for all of our apples, and then I went crazy with the toppings!! I eventually came up with the idea of making an "apple pie" inspired caramel apple. What's more autumn-y + cozy than apple pie people?? I can't think of anything else. So, I began to brainstorm about how to make this lonely caramel apple into a slice of apple pie. I knew I would need a cinnamon-sugar rolling mixture that would mimic the filling used in a typical pie (and you could also use an apple pie spice or any other spices to bump up the flavor as well). I got a little stuck with how I could make a crust-like component. I finally landed on using a Homemade Milk Crumb Topping, which I used on my Spiced Carrot Cake Doughnuts with Liquid Cheesecake Filling, Vanilla Glaze, White Chocolate Coating, & Milk Crumb Topping, and it was just the perfect addition. It really does taste like that buttery pie crust that we have all grown to love since we were kids. At this point, I thought that I had all the components nailed down, but I couldn't stop thinking about how I wanted to make this caramel apple "a la mode". So, I made a Vanilla Bean White Chocolate to act like the ice cream on top of a warm slice of pie. The best idea I ever had... trust me. Decorating is so much fun and you can make them any way you like, just let your creativity flow!! Enjoy :)

For the Vanilla Bean-Bourbon Caramel:
2C Granulated Sugar
1C Heavy Cream
¾C Bourbon
½C Light Corn Syrup
4T Unsalted Butter
2t Vanilla
1-2 Vanilla Beans, Split & Scraped for Seeds
½t Salt (plus extra fleur de sel for sprinkling on the caramel after dipping, this is optional)
8-10 Small/Medium Apples, Scrubbed & Dried & Stems Removed (I like tart Granny Smith)
8-10 Sticks, For the Apples

For the Milk Crumb Topping:
1 ½C Milk Powder
½C AP Flour
¼C Cornstarch & Sugar
½t Salt
1 Stick of Unsalted Butter, Melted
6oz White Chocolate, Melted

For the Cinnamon-Sugar Mixture:
½C Sugar
2T Brown Sugar
1t Cinnamon (or Apple Pie Spice can be substituted, as well as the addition of any other spices)

For the Vanilla Bean White Chocolate:
12oz White Chocolate Chips
1-2 Vanilla Beans, Split & Scraped for Seeds (depending on how much you like vanilla)

1. Remove the stems from the apples and place a stick inside each of them. Line a baking sheet with wax paper and lightly spray with Pam. Place the apples into the refrigerator and chill the apples for at least an hour, this way the caramel will hold onto the apple better.
2. For the Milk Crumb Topping: Preheat the oven to 250 degrees and line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Whisk to combine 1C Milk Powder with the flour, cornstarch, sugar, and salt. Add the melted butter and use a spatula to toss the mixture until small clusters form. Spread these clusters onto your parchment covered baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Add the remaining ½C of Milk Powder and toss, and then crush the large clusters with a fork. Pour the 6oz of melted white chocolate over the crumbs and t oss until large crumbs form again. Place the crumbs in the refrigerator or freezer to let the white chocolate harden. If the crumbs are too large, crush with a fork or spin them briefly in a food processor. Pour the crumbs into a bowl to dip the caramel apples into later.
3. For the Vanilla Bean-Bourbon Caramel Apples: In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, cream, bourbon, corn syrup, butter, vanilla, vanilla bean seeds and salt. Heat over medium high heat, stirring until combined and bring to a boil. Attach a candy thermometer to the side and cook without stirring until temperature reaches 245 degrees F. If the mixture starts bubbling up at first (it may because of the cream, do NOT take your eyes off of it), stir a bit with a pastry brush and reduce heat until it's a bit more caramel in color. The entire caramel process took me about 20-25 minutes, but may be a bit longer or shorter depending on your heat level and pan, so watch carefully. Once it reaches 245 degrees, remove from the heat. Keeping the candy thermometer in the caramel, bring the temperature down to 200 degrees, and then immediately dip apples into the caramel, let the excess caramel drip off, flip them upside down for a few seconds and twirl them around to keep the bottoms flat. You can also scrape off any excess caramel with a knife or spoon, so that you won’t have a pool of caramel on your plate (you can dip them in sprinkles or chocolate or whatever if you like at this time, but I like to do them in multiple layers). Place on wax paper. Let sit in the fridge until firm, about 30 minutes.
4. For the Cinnamon-Sugar Mixture: In a small, deep bowl, mix together the sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon until well incorporated. Once the apples have been dipped into the caramel, immediately roll them into the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Place them into the refrigerator to harden for the next layer.
5. For the Vanilla Bean White Chocolate: I n a small bowl, melt the white chocolate in a microwave or over a bowl of simmering water. If using the microwave, only heat for 20-second intervals, stirring in between each. Once melted, stir in vanilla seeds. Keep warm & melted until all the caramel apples have been dipped in them. Remove the caramel apples, once again, from the refrigerator, and submerge them into the vanilla bean white chocolate (I did mine about ½ to ¾ of the way up). Immediately dip the white chocolate covered-caramel apples into the milk crumb topping.
6. Let the layers of caramel, chocolate, and toppings firm up before enjoying.

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