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Verses from my Kitchen: Baked Apples with Caramel Sauce

October 20, 2010

Baked Apples with Caramel Sauce

With Thanksgiving still in our rear-view mirror it's the perfect time to acknowledge and show my appreciation for the fall harvest that is taking place right now. With an abundance of incredible fruits and vegetables at our disposal and those same offerings at their peak in terms of flavour, it's the perfect time to take notice of an annual ritual that usually slips by unnoticed.

Harvest is commonly an agricultural word where the farmers and cultivators collect all the ripe crops from the fields. Thankfully we are the ones who reap those brilliant rewards. The produce newly picked and part of the harvest ranges from butternut squash, pears, pomegranate and sweet potatoes to pumpkins and apples.

Apples are the ultimate fall harvest fruit. Different varieties, different flavour profiles and the same delicious taste.  The key to a great apple is an unbruised, firm apple with unbroken and shiny skin. This is the time of year for apples to pop-up in pies, salads and alongside your favourite pork dishes. It's also the season when I start making my own applesauce and baked apple dishes.

I love making and devouring baked apples with that delicious syrup created inside, especially this time of year. The apples undergo an incredible transformation once they hit the oven and soak up the aroma from the spices sprinkled on its flesh. The shiny skin blistering from the heat of the oven and the crunchy texture now soft and juicy and enveloped with flavour that sets the tone for dessert.

As far as i'm concerned nothing goes better with baked apples than ice cold vanilla ice cream. That is unless you make a delicious thick and creamy caramel sauce to enhance the flavours of the apple. And that's exactly what I did here.

Baked Apples with Caramel Sauce

Yields: 2

The Goods:
2 Royal Gala apples
1 tsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 full tbsp. butter
pinch of salt
pinch cayenne pepper

1/4 cup cold water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup 35% whipping cream
1 tsp. lemon juice

The Prep:
1.Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Wash and dry the apples. Set aside. Combine cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar and cayenne in a medium bowl.
3. Remove the top 1/2" around the apple to create a lid. Core the apples, but make sure not to puncture the bottom of the apples so that the juices will remain inside and the apple will act as a cup. Fill each apple cavity with the mixture. Top each apple with 1 tbsp. of butter. Place the 'lid' back on the top of each apple.
4. Place the apples in a baking dish and cook for roughly 30 minutes, until the flesh is tender and the apples are bubbly.
5. While the apples are baking make your caramel sauce. Fill a large bowl with ice cold water. Place the sugar and 1/4 cup water in a saucepan over low heat and stir until sugar has melted. Brush down the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in water if any crystals appear.
6. Bring to a boil and allow to cook, without stirring, until the caramel turns golden brown. Swirl the pan to keep the colour even all the way through. Remove from the heat as soon as this happens and place the base of the pan into the bowl of cold water to stop the cooking process.
7. Once it has cooled, gently pour in the cream. Careful, it will foam up. When the foaming dissipates, add the lemon juice and stir until the sauce is smooth and warm.

The four steps of a juicy, syrupy baked apple.

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