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  • Have a Spooky Halloween!

    Cheddar Witches Fingers - Cheese straws in the shape of fingers, complete with a black almond "finger nail." Delicious and totally spooky.

    Candy Apples - You don't need to go to the fair to get my favorite treat because you can make these at home. Black food coloring gives them a festive touch.

    Pumpkin Caramel Sauce - Having a not-so-scary Halloween party? Serve ice cream with this pumpkin infused caramel sauce on top.

Monthly Archives: October 2011

Honey Caramel Apples

Carter Mountain Orchard

Last weekend, Eric and I went to a local orchard with our friends Amanda and Jordan. It was one of those quintessential fall days, and being at the top of a mountain picking apples only made it more so. We picked several apples of a few different varieties, but I’m most excited about the Albermarle Pippin ones because they were supposedly Thomas Jefferson’s favorite. I couldn’t bring myself to dip them in caramel, though, and decided to make these caramel apples with the Granny Smith variety instead. You’ll definitely be seeing more apple recipes from me in the near future.

I adore Halloween, and I couldn’t let this one pass without sharing at least one Halloween recipe. While caramel apples are delicious anytime, their decadence fits in well with all the candy and desserts floating around this time of year. This was my first time using honey to make caramel, and let me tell you – it was fabulous. I like honey and apples together already, and this combination just cemented that for me. The mild honey flavor comes through, making this caramel taste unlike any I’ve tried previously. These are relatively easy to make, but you have to make sure you get the caramel to just the right temperature so that it will stick to the apples. I originally planned to dip the finished apples in chocolate and roll them in nuts, but the caramel tasted so delicious on its own that I decided to only dip a few in chocolate.

Honey Caramel Apples

Honey Caramel Apples
Makes 6-8 small apples

6-8 small apples, unwaxed, cold
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup honey
6-8 ounces chocolate, chopped

Line a baking sheet with a nonstick mat or parchment and set aside. Push a lollipop or popsicle stick deep into each apple. Prepare an ice bath and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, heat the cream and salt over medium heat until bubbles just begin to form around the edges. Stir in the honey and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium. Stir constantly with a rubber spatula, for 15-20 minutes or until the mixture reaches 255-260ºF on a candy or infrared thermometer. Very carefully set the bottom of the saucepan into the ice bath and stir until caramel has thickened slightly. Take care not to get any water into the caramel. The caramel should be thin enough to coat the apples but not so thin that it drips right off. If it thickens too much, simply return it to the burner for a few seconds to heat it back up.

Honey Caramel Apples

Tilt the saucepan to get all the caramel on one side. Dip each apple and swirl around until it is coated. Place on the prepared baking sheet to cool and set. Once the caramel has cooled, you can use your hands to mold any caramel that may have pooled around the edges before refrigerating to set completely. To make them especially decadent, let the caramel dipped apples chill in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes before dipping in melted chocolate.

Source: Adapted from 101 Cookbooks

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars

Fall is easily my favorite time of year, and that’s due in large part to the abundance of pumpkin and pumpkin recipes. I don’t recall how I discovered my love for all things pumpkin, but I can tell you that it grows more every year. Perhaps it’s because of the seasonal availability of pumpkin, or maybe it’s just because pumpkin tastes insanely delicious in both sweet and savory applications. Either way, I fully intend on enjoying my share of pumpkin goodies until Thanksgiving is over.

I made these bars last week on a whim, and I am so happy I did. Eric and I split the batch and each took some to work. I realize it seems odd for someone who works at a cupcake shop to take a dessert to work, but my coworkers and I enjoy non-cupcake desserts too. ;) These bars are moist, thick and cake-like. I used a mixture of semisweet and dark chocolate, which made them incredibly rich. These were just what I needed to curb my pumpkin craving, at least for a couple days.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars
Makes 24
*Note: You can use 1 tablespoon of pumpkin pie spice in place of the individual spices.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 package (12 ounces) semisweet or dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350º. Line the bottom and sides of a 9×13-inch baking dish with foil, leaving an overhang on all sides. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, spices, baking soda and salt and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or using a handheld mixer, cream the butter and sugar on medium high speed until smooth. Add the egg and vanilla and continue beating until well combined. Beat in pumpkin purée, then reduce speed to low and mix in dry ingredients until just blended. Using a rubber spatula, stir in chocolate chips.

Evenly spread batter in the prepared pan. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached. Cool completely in pan. Use the foil overhang to remove the dessert from the pan, then cut into 24 squares and serve. Keep any leftovers in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

Source: As seen on Two Peas and Their Pod, originally from Martha Stewart

German Apple Pancake

German Apple Pancake

I’ve mentioned before my love for all the agriculture in Virginia. During the fall, that means loads of apples. I’ve been scooping up different varieties at the farmers market the past few weeks, and we’re planning to go apple picking soon. It’s easy to get obsessed with pumpkin this time of year (says the person who was looking for pumpkin at the end of August), but apples definitely deserve a place in the fall spotlight.

This pancake is the epitome of a perfect fall breakfast. Warm apples, cooked in cinnamon and brown sugar, are enveloped in a batter that’s light and crisp at the edges and custardy in the center. The first time we made this, I was afraid the apples would turn mushy, but slicing them 1/2-inch thick prevents that from happening. You can use any variety of apples in this, but I especially like how tart apples balance out the sweetness of the pancake. It’s delicious on its own or sprinkled with a dusting of powdered sugar.

German Apple Pancake

German Apple Pancake
Serves 4

*If you want to use a cast iron pan like we did, preheat the oven to 425º in the first step and only cook the apples for 6 minutes in the second step. Since cast iron retains heat so well, you don’t need the higher oven temperature or longer cooking time.

1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon table salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup half-and-half
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/4 pounds Granny Smith or Braeburn apples (3 to 4 large apples), peeled, quartered, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
1/4 cup light or dark brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and preheat to 500º. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, granulated sugar and salt. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, half and half and vanilla. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ones and whisk until no lumps remain, about 20 seconds. Set aside.

Heat butter until sizzling in a 10-inch ovenproof skillet set over medium-high heat. Add apples, brown sugar and cinnamon. Cook, stirring frequently, until the apples are golden brown, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice.

Working quickly, carefully pour batter around the edge of the pan, then over the center. Place skillet in oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 425º. Bake until the edges of the pancake are golden brown and puffy and have risen above the edge of the skillet, about 18 minutes.

Remove from oven and loosen edges with a rubber spatula. Invert onto a large plate or serving platter and dust with confectioners’ sugar. Cut into 4 wedges and serve immediately.

Source: Cook’s Illustrated, January/February 2003