Thursday Night Nicoise Salad

Thursday Night Nicoise Salad
Allow all of your salad stars to shine on their own. Dress each component of your salad individually and pile onto a platter. Simple food is just so darn pretty. Make something like this whatever you have on hand!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Gourmet Caramel Apples 2011





It's apple season and I'm ecstatic. I'm an apple girl all year long, but ESPECIALLY now when I can eat all of the Honeycrisp apples I can handle. Not to mention, dip, roll and drip. Dipped in caramel, rolled in nuts and dripped and drizzled with chocolate galore. Just sit down with a nice sharp knife and a dinner plate and go to town. Delicious, sweet, salty, crunchy, gooey, crisp, tart, fabulous and sure to yank every filling out of your mouth. Mark and I just "tore one up" for a snack. It was a "Toasted Coconut Roasted Pecan Double Chocolate" special. Seriously good. Everyone needs fruit, right? That's what the Diamonds tell us in Fit For Life.

Buy some Honeycrisp apples. Melt some Kraft caramels. (I'm over my need for homemade caramel. I know, but I had to try it a few times to be convinced). Follow the package directions. One bag = 50 caramels. Add 2 tablespoons of water. Melt over medium low heat. Let the caramel cool a bit. Dunk your first apple and get a feel for the caramel. (btw, Kraft provides 5 sticks in each bag). I like to set mine on a parchment lined half sheet pan. Pop in the fridge to set up. If you're into nuts, immediately roll your apple into the nuts; press into the caramel if necessary. You can keep the pan in the fridge and add your apples as you dip and roll......

Here's what I do when I'm ready to make these guys:

1) Buy perfect apples from the farmstand if possible so that you won't have to wash off the wax that's used at the grocery stores. If you buy them at the grocery store, be sure to rinse well in hot water and then wipe vigorously with a kitchen towel. You do that anyway no matter what but it's really important to get that slick waxy stuff off so that the caramel won't completely slide to the bottom.
2) Wash and dry the apples well.
3) Toast nuts in the oven (pecans are awesome, walnuts, hazelnuts, whatever you're into)
4) Buy other nuts also (great ideas: honey roasted peanuts, cashews, macadamia nuts, dry roasted peanuts, cinnamon almonds, sliced almonds, etc.)
5) Chop nuts as you like them (chunky or fine)
6) Check out your chocolate stash. You can use any of your favorite chocolates. I melt the chocolate in a stainless steel bowl over a pot of simmering water. I use a plastic piping bag or a thick freezer zip bag for the slightly cooled melted chocolate. Snip off a corner and rock-n-roll.

Once you have done the prep work, the actual process is fun and goes quickly. If you've read my previous posts about caramel apples, you'll see that I've done some experimenting. I learn something new each time and I really do love making them.

You'll be able to get about 4-5 apples from one bag of caramel. The temperature of the caramel is a real key to your success. Too hot and it will run down the apple quickly into a pool. Too cool and it's not dippable. You WILL get the feel of it after one or two. After dipping, scrape the bottom excess caramel off and place the apple on the parchment lined sheet. If you're going to roll in nuts, roll immediately. I recommend using paper plates for the nuts instead of bowls because it's easier the roll the apples and easier to use your hands to pile the nuts up and around the apple. Let the apples cool and set up in the fridge, as previously mentioned. You can keep them in longer if you wish and add the chocolate later. In any case, it's a good idea to make sure they have firmly set up before decorating with warm chocolate. Decorate with the chocolate and then keep in a cool place (like the garage or basement) or in the fridge if you like...... If you do store the finished apples in the fridge, you may want to set them out at room temperature for a bit before serving in order to soften up the caramel.

I'll be making more of these this month and if I come up with any new tips or ideas, I'll let ya know. I brought some to NSH today to spread the Octoberyness around the dealership.

Apples from my Apple to Y-O-U

Wishing you love and Honeycrisps,

Katie

KPK Plea: PLEAse don't use Red Delicious apples for your KPK Gourmet Caramel Apples. They were simply misnamed. They should have been named Red Delicious-NOT. Seriously friends, ick. Tasteless, mealy-textured, thick skinned and not at all refreshing to the palate. Nice looking, but that's where it ends. Sorry, I'm not usually that judgmental. LOL. Think tart & crisp. Prettier is definitely not better. Honeycrisps are not shaped as nicely and they have a few flaws and bumps (who doesn't?) but they ROCK! Go to the farmstand or your well-stocked local grocery store and buy one of each apple variety you can find. Now's the best time. Try Cortland, McIntosh, Ida Red, Jonathan, Granny Smith, Rome Beauty, etc. etc. Lots and lots from Michigan right now. Do your own taste-test. It's fun ~ You will be amazed by the differences from one variety to another. You are sure to pick a favorite. Did you know that there are over 7,500 varieties of apples grown throughout the world? Holy _ _ _ _! Amazing!

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From here, you can continue scrolling down to check out some of my favorite dishes and KPK highlights.

For more posts (articles), recipes, stories and pictures, you can scroll up (in the right column under "What You Missed") and click on 2008, 2009 2010, 2011, 2012 or 2013. As of June, 2013, there are are total of 139 posts in KPK. You can spend more time here when you know where to look, right?! Another way to enjoy my kitchen is to click on any items of interest in the section entitled "Passion Posts", also up above in the right column.

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