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Fun Food Saturday: Caramel Apples

OK, let’s get one thing out in the open: We’re not big fans of caramel over here and caramel apples don’t do much for us (too sticky – we’d much rather eat a plain, crunchy apple). But we’ve got to admit, caramel apples are an iconic fall food and they sure look nice when they’re all decorated. Plus, the kids get SO excited when they see them. So now that it’s October, we thought we’d give caramel apples another try.

We began by rationalizing to ourselves about the caramel. Yes, it’s candy, but you don’t have to coat the whole apple. Plus, the caramel acts as a glue that can attach all sorts of slightly more healthy foods.

To get started with the caramel, you can go one of two routes. You can make your own caramel (we like this nice recipe and instructions provided by Simply Recipes). Or, if you’re short on time, you can just melt down store-bought caramels with a little half-and-half. Heat it over the stove or microwave it, then stir until the caramel pieces are melted and the mixture is smooth. We used a ratio of approximately 1/2 pound of caramels to 1/2 cup of half-and-half for about six apples.

Next slide a popsicle stick into the top of each of the apples to make a handle. Then dip the apples, let the excess caramel roll off, place the apples on a tray with waxed paper or a silicone mat, and put them in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes to firm up the caramel.

While the apples are chilling, assemble a handful of ingredients such as nuts, granola, cereal, pretzels, sunflower seeds, popcorn, etc.. If any of the ingredients (like the nuts or pretzels) need to be crushed, let the kids mash them in a plastic bag with a toy hammer. Put each of the ingredients in a small bowl.

Then pull the apples out of the refrigerator and let the kids coat and roll to their heart’s content. The boys had a great time – and it was surprisingly easy to make the apples look nice. Our masterpieces included an apple rolled with granola, a pear (!) rolled with pretzels, an apple rolled with pecans, and an apple rolled with Cheerios.

We’ve seen plenty of over-the-top caramel apples made with chocolate, marshmallows, sprinkles, you name it – but we like these slightly savory and crunchy ones better. Besides, why do you need to add candy when the best apples of fall are so sweet already?

Fun food Saturday: Because food should be fun.

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