Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit,
and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.
Henry David Thoreau
I can clearly recall the day my fellow seven interns and I sat around the rectangular table at our meet and greet. Our director assured us we would grow very close by the time graduation day came in June. I had to wonder though, would someone like myself who has never been great at making new friends be a part of this close-knit group she was anticipating? Indeed, I surprised myself. Without the support of these girls, I would imagine that my year might have been more of a struggle and certainly not as fun.
This weekend I was fortunate enough to play host to several of these girls as part of a celebration on our new credential as registered dietitians. The days of studying under the July sun are now a distant memory and talks of new jobs and life without the internship fuel our conversation. I decided to share one of my new favorite places with them.
There is something to be said about being in an apple orchard. Red delicious apples contrast against dark green leaves. The pattern the tractor makes in the muddy path. The mysterious way the tree branches twist and turn making their way towards the sky. Why they call those apples on the ground wind falls. The air’s crispness that seems to find its way underneath woolen sweaters. It’s really a treat to visit such a place and have a bounty of Jonathan, Empire, Macoun, and Cortland varieties to bring home for baking and eating. I had to stop my mind from entertaining the apple recipes that were coming into my head, I reminded myself to be in the moment.
Once home I surrendered to the ideas of apple crisp, apple pie, crumb cake and tarts. Instead, I decided to try my hand at something a bit more simple. Caramel dipped apples.
Be it a bit of a cliche, but caramel apples was something I had only experienced once before in life. I was never much of a fair goer and I never paid interest to the caramel apples that sat atop display cases along the New Jersey shore boardwalk.
I am the daughter of a candy shop queen, well okay, maybe I am exaggerating a bit. But my mother did spend several years of her youth working at the Berkeley Sweet Shop along the boardwalk. Nights were spent behind rows of chocolate candies, among the whirling and twirling of cotton candy, immersed in the oh-so-familiar scent of freshly made salt water taffy and of course, there were caramel dipped apples too, with peanuts she informed me.
I can’t help but think I inherited her skill when I spun the apples in the bath of warm caramel out of instinct. Okay so they didn’t come out picture perfect, or maybe they did but perfect wasn’t really what I was after, for once.
This was about a new tradition, this was about making candy, something I had never tried before. This was about enjoying the fruits of our labor. As we bid farewell to another September come and gone, I am thankful for friends and fresh apples.
Caramel Dipped Apples
Makes about 8
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup dark corn syrup
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup butter
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
In a large pot, combine sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, evaporated milk, whipping cream, and butter. Monitor the heat of the mixture with a candy thermometer while stirring. When the thermometer reaches 250 F remove pot from heat. Stir in vanilla.
Wash and dry your apples making sure they are very dry or the caramel will not stick. Insert popsicle sticks into apples. Twirl apples in caramel to evenly coat them. Roll in peanuts or topping of your choice, or leave them plain. Set on a wax paper lined baking sheet and place in refrigerator.