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Friday, September 20, 2013

Caramel & Apple - Best Culinary Duo Ever!

There really seems to be something to the old adage, "an apple a day keeps the doctor away." It's amazing the amount of health benefits found in one of nature's most modest fruits.  I can't think of a flavor combination that I enjoy more than caramel and apples.  Plus, any time you can work a fruit into dessert, you're getting a bit more nutrition.  September seems to be the kick-off month for this autumnal delicacy, so I thought post my top 5 favorite caramel apple recipes.  

#5 Caramel Apple Cheesecake.  I am a cheese cake lover and so this is a natural canvas for most any of my favorite flavors.  Plus, this one is a Cooking Light recipe, so it is a bit on the lighter side.

#4 Caramel Apple Muffins.  Let me preface this recipe by saying I do tweak it a bit.  I use whole wheat flour instead of white flour and 1% milk instead of 2%.  It is definitely more of a sweet treat for breakfast, but works well when paired with an egg and some fruit.

#3 Apple Fritter Rings.  Yes, this one is fried.  I'm a dietitian and I eat fried foods occasionally and thoroughly enjoy them.  I really like these after a nice fall hike.  Granted, they don't have any caramel, but if you want to go all out - a light drizzle of caramel sauce would be a tasty touch.  Since I hate to fry foods (it seems like such extra work and mess), I don't make these often.  But you can bet that I get them at least once in the fall.

#2 Green Apple Frozen Yogurt or Sorbet with Caramel Sauce.  You can bet that I keep a sharp eye out at my favorite frozen yogurt shops for the appearance of Green Apple.  A little dish of that with a light drizzle of caramel sauce and I'm in heaven!  However, in the process of composing this post, I came across a green apple sorbet recipe that I most definitely will have to try.  Then I won't have to wait 11 months to have it again.

#1 Caramel Apples.  Yep - my all-time favorite is plain-jane caramel apples.  Sometimes I make the lovely yet hard-to-eat variety on a stick, but most of the time it is a bowl full of caramel next to a bowl full of cut up apples.  You can eat it fondue-style or fill your own bowl.  Nothing tastes more like fall to me. 
I love the using foil muffin papers for my caramel apples.  These are sprinkled with chopped almonds, cinnamon candies, toasted coconut or mini chocolate chips. 
So here's my quick, easy, no-fail recipe for microwave caramel.

7 Minute Caramel Recipe
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup corn syrup
1/2 cup margarine
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
Place all ingredients in a large microwave-safe bowl and microwave for 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.  If the consistency isn't perfectly smooth after cooking, use a hand-held, stick blender and viola!  Velvety, caramel yumminess!

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