Making your own caramel might seem daunting, but it is actually remarkably easy — you just need sugar and patience. And when the reward is gorgeous tart-sweet, just-chewy-enough caramel apples, it’s worth being patient.
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Given the tartness of crisp apples and the rich smoothness of gooey caramel, these fall flavors shine when they’re put together, most often in the form of classic caramel-covered apples. While the tried-and-true recipe is a timeless favorite, Giada takes it to the next level of indulgence in her recipe for Caramel, Chocolate and Candy Apples (pictured above) by coating the apples first in caramel, then drizzling them with melted chocolate and finishing them with crunchy chopped nuts, sweet candies or sprinkles. Kids — and kids and heart — will appreciate being able to build their ultimate dessert with their preferred combination of toppings.
But beyond caramel apples — both classic and creative — there are indeed ways to celebrate these flavors in other decadent treats this autumn. Try Bobby’s Caramel Apple Cheesecake (pictured right), a five-star showstopper that delivers wow-worthy results every time. He starts with a buttery graham cracker-walnut crust, then fills it with a vanilla-cream cheese center. But the star of the cheesecake comes in the form of its topping: tender sweetened apples and a brandy-spiked caramel sauce.
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While some jarred products (think ketchup and mustard) may indeed be best enjoyed straight from their store-bought bottles, applesauce isn’t among them, as it’s both simple and quick to make from scratch. All it takes to prepare a batch is a few crisp apples and a pinch of sugar, plus butter for richness and a bit of citrus; from there, you can dress up your recipe with warm spices, like cinnamon, or a glug of liqueur. Check out Food Network’s top-five applesauce recipes from Ina, the Neelys, Alton and more Food Network chefs to find classic and creative ways to turn autumn’s bounty of apples into a comforting seasonal dish.
5. The Neelys’ Homemade Applesauce — For added apple flavor in their 25-minute recipe, the Neelys stir apple cider into their simple mixture of fruit, brown sugar and cinnamon sticks.
4. Plum Applesauce — Juicy red plums add both color and sweetness to this big-batch applesauce, easily prepared in a rice cooker in just one hour.
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Though I adore the strawberries, plums and peaches of summer, by the time fall rolls around each year, I am ready for apples. To me, they are a sign of cooler weather, cozy evenings and a slightly slower pace of life.
When they’re in season, I often buy apples by the half bushel. One of my favorite local orchards offers an amazing deal at our Sunday farmers market. You can fill up an entire crate of apples for $20. It means that they’re able to move a mountain of apples and I feel like I’m getting a bargain. The only trouble is that I then have 20+ pounds of apples to eat, use and preserve.
And so, I get to sorting and cooking. I fill up one whole crisper drawer with the best-looking apples for eating whole or slicing to dip in peanut butter (that is one of my all-time favorite snacks). I make applesauce, apple butter and little jars of honey-colored jelly.
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When apple crisp, apple crumble, apple pie and all things apple start flooding your recipe wish list, you don’t need to look at the calendar to know that fall is right where we want it. Apples are the stars of this coveted season — and rightfully so. We lug them by the bagful from the produce section and, sometimes, we even trek to the nearest farm to do the picking ourselves.
As the old adage goes — say it with me now — “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Instead of relegating apples to dessert, start strong by incorporating crisp, juicy apples into your breakfast regiment — or add them to the brunch table if you’re sleeping in. These apple recipes make any morning meal a celebration.
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Next time you shop for apples, pick up a few varieties and combine them in recipes. Try tart (Granny Smith or Cortland) with sweet (Pink Lady or Macoun), and mix textures too: Empire and McIntosh soften when they’re cooked; Golden Delicious and Honeycrisp retain their shape. Just avoid Red Delicious — they get too mushy.
If I say apple, what kind of recipe comes to mind? I’m betting most of you thought about pie, and for a good reason. Who can resist tender apples tucked into a flaky, buttery crust? Once you get past the many variations of this classic American dessert, though, there’s a whole world of savory dishes to explore.
Apples work especially well with assertively flavored ingredients. The natural sweetness shines through when it’s sauteed or roasted, helping to temper earthy root vegetables and spicy foods. Last year one of my favorite combinations was roasting it with parsnips and onions. I’d give the whole thing a whirl in the blender with some vegetable broth for a thick, creamy, dairy-free soup (and vegan, too).
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When the Food Network test kitchens first conceived of the “50 Things to Make With Apples” booklet from the October issue of Food Network Magazine (page 160), we thought we would use apple in all its forms, including applesauce and cider.
Ultimately, we decided to only include recipes with fresh apples — but I had already developed this easy recipe for cider-glazed bacon. You’ll be amazed by how much of the cider flavor actually comes through. And if you want to take it over the top, use the bacon to make a BLA — a BLT with sliced apples instead of tomatoes.
Simmer 1 cup apple cider down to 1/4 cup, about 15 minutes. Lay 1/2 pound thick-cut bacon on a rack on sheet tray; brush with half the cider; bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes, flipping and brushing again halfway through.
We’re teaming up with food and garden bloggers and our friends at HGTV Gardens to host Summer Fest 2012, a season-long garden party. In coming weeks, we’ll feature favorite garden-to-table recipes and tips to help you enjoy the bounty, whether you’re harvesting your own goodies or buying them fresh from the market. Today we’re exploring apples.
If you live in the Northeast, the introduction of apple season means more than a wide-eyed experience in the produce section. Instead, it means a trip to the farm for some apple picking. Donning your favorite comfy outfit and making your way into the country, this trip should be one of the first things you do when the air becomes crisp and the leaves turn golden. Don’t be afraid to pick apples by the crateful this year — Food Network has plenty of ideas to keep you busy.
For breakfast, drizzle maple syrup over Ellie Krieger’s Whole Wheat Apple Pancakes, blend Fuji and Golden Delicious apples together for Alton Brown’s 10 Minute Apple Sauce and eat a warm, hearty Zucchini and Apple Bread fresh out of the oven.
With so many apples, try incorporating a few into lunch and dinner, too. Tyler Florence’s classic Roast Loin of Pork With Baked Apples embodies everything that’s good and hearty about the fall, while this recipe for Apple and Brie Quesadillas brings an unconventional edge to a Tex-Mex mainstay. As for sides, look to simple Baked Apples and an Israeli Couscous With Apples, Cranberries and Herbs.
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This Halloween, I’m taking a break from the usual pumpkin-related suspects and immersing myself in apples. I love to mix different apples when cooking. I always look for crisp texture, not too sweet and slightly floral. For reliable texture that stands the cooking test I go for Granny Smith and Rome. For snacking and raw in salads I prefer Macouin, Braeburn and Royal Gala. For pickling? Fuji. Another effective approach is to totally ignore what everyone tells you to buy and get the apples that look the best to you.
This week, I’m sharing my warm and comforting Mulled Apple Cider recipe.
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