I’m in the middle of a huge project. I’m taking all the cooking magazines I’ve saved over the past ten years, and ripping out the articles or recipes I enjoy. Not only is it saving me tons of space, but it’s also giving me visual inspiration in my kitchen. I now have a whole binder of tried and true recipes, but some I want to try at some point in the future. When I came across these Red Wine Caramel Apples from the October 2009 issue of Gourmet magazine, I wanted to try them for my readers as they looked easy and sounded delicious!
The recipe is relatively straightforward but does require you to essentially make caramel using the “wet” method. In caramel making, there are two ways to go about it. Some recipes will tell you to heat the water and caramel together, this is the “wet” method. Other recipes will then tell you to heat the sugar by itself to warrant the “dry” method.
As of today’s trial on this recipe, I was having a heck of a time getting my sugar to cooperate, even three trials later. This will of course will lead to future research, but I do want to walk you through what I did just incase your recipe does the same. I did alter the recipe slightly, but I want you to know that Gourmet magazine did a heck of a job with this one!
Red Wine Caramel Apples
8 small McIntosh or Granny Smith apples
1 1/2 cups Cabernet Sauvignon or Zinfandel
2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, stemmed (optional)
Start by filling a large bowl with hot water. The water should be comfortable enough for you to work in with your bare hands. Add two tablespoons of Baking Soda to the water. With a small brush, work with the Apples one at a time to scrub all their surfaces. Repeat with the remaining Apples and dry thoroughly with paper towels. Set aside.
Boil wine in a small saucepan over medium heat until reduced to 1/2 cup, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Bring sugar, salt and water to a boil in a 2 1/2-to 3-quart heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved, then wash down any sugar crystals from side of pan with a pastry brush dipped in cold water. Boil without stirring until temperature reaches 235°F.
**This is the point where I failed each and every time. My first attempt I believe I stirred instead of swirled and ended up with a clumpy mess that wouldn’t come back. For my second attempt, I saw it was going the same direction as the last- when it got to a slightly clumpy phase, I removed the pan from the heat and proceeded as below. My third attempt is where I didn’t stir at all and it all worked out just fine.**
Add reduced wine and cream (mixture will bubble up and steam) and stir until incorporated. Simmer until candy thermometer registers 250°F. Remove from heat and cool to 200°F. Add vanilla bean scrapings.
Insert a wooden stick halfway into each apple at stem end. Line a tray with wax paper and lightly grease paper. You can also use a Silpat or Silicone mat where you don’t have to grease the paper.
Holding apples by the sticks, dip them in Caramel and swirl to coat, letting excess drip off, then hold Apples up (stick end down) for about 15 seconds to allow more Caramel to set on Apples. Put Caramel Apples, stick side up, on greased wax paper and let stand until Caramel firms up, about 30 minutes. Eat up!