By Kristina Vanni
Are you a Trick or a Treat? With Halloween right around the corner, Floored!'s "Hot Chef Fridays" guest blogger Kristina Vanni serves up delicious "trick" or "treat" recipes to help adults and kids alike get in the spooky spirit.
Adapting what is traditionally considered “kid’s cuisine” for an adult palate was one of the culinary trends for 2009. For today’s ghastly “trick,” we will show you how to transform the Halloween classic, caramel apples, into a more sophisticated dish for adults. Think of this pie as a “grown-up caramel apple.” All of your favorite flavors, no stick necessary!
For a step-by-step video instruction on how to prepare this recipe for “Caramel Apple Pie” click here: (Note Floored! readers: Yep, that's our very own Kristina Vanni in the video serving up tips in the Better Homes and Gardens test kitchens.)
Caramel Apple Pie
1-1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup shortening
4 to 5 tablespoons cold water
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup quick rolled oats
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 cups thinly sliced peeled cooking apples
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup caramel ice cream topping
1. For the pastry: In a bowl stir together 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in shortening until pieces are pea-size. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of water over part of the flour mixture, tossing with a fork until all dough is moistened. Prepare using 1 tablespoon of water at a time, until flour mixture is moistened. Form dough into a ball; set aside.
2. For the crumb topping, stir together brown sugar, 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, and oats. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter or margarine until the topping mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside.
3. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to a 12-inch circle. Transfer pastry to a 9-inch pie plate. Ease pastry into pie plate, being careful not to stretch pastry. Trim; crimp edge as desired.
4. In a large mixing bowl stir together sugar, 3 tablespoons flour, cinnamon, and salt. Add apple slices and gently toss until coated. Transfer apple mixture to the pastry-lined pie plate. Sprinkle crumb topping over apple mixture.
5. To prevent over browning, cover edge of pie with foil. Bake in a 375 degree F oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes more or until top is golden. Remove from oven; sprinkle pie with pecans, then drizzle with caramel topping. Cool on a wire rack. Makes 8 servings.
If you want to “treat” your kids this Halloween, this recipe is an easy way to get them involved in the kitchen. The recipe is a simple version of classic caramel apples, but with a few creative decorations, you can convince your kids they are frightening and gruesome “shrunken heads!”
8 medium apples
8 wooden craft sticks
1 cup coarsely chopped nuts, such as pecans, walnuts, or peanuts
21 ounces (about 75) vanilla caramels or chocolate caramels, unwrapped
3 tablespoons water
6 ounces vanilla-flavor candy coating
2 teaspoons shortening
Desired candies for decoration, such as licorice, candy corn, gumdrops, candy-coated chocolate pieces (optional)
Tubes of writing gel decorating icing
1. Wash and dry apples. Remove stems. Insert one wood stick into the stem end of each apple. Place apples on a buttered baking sheet. Place chopped nuts in a shallow dish; set aside.
2. In a heavy medium saucepan, heat and stir the caramels and water over medium-low heat just until caramels are melted.
3. Dip each apple into hot caramel mixture, spooning caramel evenly over apple. Allow excess caramel to drip off. Briefly set bottoms of apples in chopped nuts. Set apples on prepared baking sheet and let stand about 30 minutes or until firm.
4. In a heavy, small saucepan, heat and stir the vanilla-flavor candy coating and shortening over low heat just until mixture is melted. Holding apples over the saucepan, spoon the melted candy coating evenly over the tops of the caramel-coated apples. Return to baking sheet and let stand about 30 minutes or until firm.
5. Decorate the apples to resemble faces or monsters using desired candies and writing gel. Use writing gel or canned frosting to attach candies to dipped apples. Makes 8 medium apples.
Make-Ahead Tip: Prepare apples as directed. Cover and chill for up to two days.
Stay tuned for next week's installment of "Hot Chef Fridays."
Photos by Better Homes and Gardens