Before we get to the good stuff… I’ve decided to attempt at being slightly less of a control freak (attempt… I never promised!) and as a result The Paleo Homesteader has another admin/blogger! Check out the “About” page to meet Carrie! Between the two of our crazy schedules, I figured adding another admin/blogger will get all of you even more amazing/awesome/spectacular (ok, maybe just awesome) information, facebook posts and blog posts and I will feel less guilty about not being able to post as often as I’d like! So with that…. Here is Carrie’s first post! Paleo & Gaps Caramel Apples. Keep reading and start salvitating! (I ate one. Ok… maybe two at her boys’ birthday/Halloween bash. They’re good!) -Tarrin
Paleo & Gaps Caramel Apples
Halloween. It’s a big deal in our household. I’ve always been more of a Christmas kind of girl—dragging all of us to stomp up hills in the rain and the mud in quest of the perfect tree, only to get home mud-covered and bickering to declare “wasn’t that fun?!” But, my husband, well Halloween defines his year and the older our two boys get the more fun he is having. The grosser, the scarier, the better. Apparently some people, including my boys, rate being scared on a fun-meter.
Last year, pregnant with our third, my husband and I were discussing planning the boys’ birthday parties, one in early October and the other right at Thanksgiving. The thought of preparing for and hosting two parties was overwhelming at the time so we agreed to combine the boys’ parties. And then it hit me–hello! Halloween! Last year the Halloween/Birthday celebration was a big hit; we invited family, a few close friends, eat a lot of food and let the kids run around in their costumes. Perfect. It was such a hit last year as the party ended we had several requests that we repeat the whole thing again next year.
There’s not much I like more than creating a new tradition. So… this year we held our 2nd annual Halloween/Birthday Celebration. I have a feeling we will continue to do so until all the kids are too old to want to come…but we’ll still probably throw the party for the adults (and bribe the kids into joining too).
Planning for this whole thing began in August when I saw my husband looking up Halloween things online. I rolled my eyes, I mean the kids were running around in swimsuits. Obviously he should have been a party planner. He ignored me and continued his hunt. We divvy up party-hosting duties with me in charge of food and drinks (and trying to keep him on some sort of budget) while he plans out décor, games for the kids, and spends an incredible amount of time trolling the aisles at the dollar store (every one in town, cause they all have a different selection, don’t you know? ) and the party supply place.
Then, in mid-September we started (working backwards through the phases) through the GAPS diet. And suddenly planning food for a party that wouldn’t disappoint my kids and would be enjoyable for our guests seemed like a pretty big hurdle. And the boys begged “can we pleeeease have caramel apples again.” Planning in August suddenly didn’t seem like such a crazy idea.
After lots of debating, food was a success. Dinner was enjoyed (we served crock-pot chicken tacos, (no shells for us) with homemade salsa and guacamole), fruit, and GAPS cupcakes). The caramel covered apples were what I worried the most about reproducing. Turns out it was pretty simple (seriously anything is easier than unwrapping 6 million little caramels to melt). They were also delicious. Here’s the recipe.
- 1 ½ cups of whole, pitted dates
- 2 ¼ cups of raw honey
- 6 tablespoons of butter or ghee (I used Kerrygold butter)
- ¼ cup water
- ½ or ¼ teaspoon of sea salt, to taste. I preferred this with a little over ½ teaspoon as it gave it a sort of salted caramel taste. Yum.
- any variety of unsalted nuts, about 2 cups. (I used an unsalted raw mix of pistachios, cashews, pecans, and almonds)
- 9-12 organic apples. (I used organic red delicious (they were on sale!) but next time I really think some crisp granny smith would be even better.
- popsicle sticks
- wax paper
Wash your apples and dry them well. Poke the sticks in the tops. Make your life easier now by making sure they stand up easily and aren’t falling all over the place. If they are wobbly or fall over re-poke the stick or try a different apple. When they are covered with caramel I guarantee it will be frustrating if they are tipping over or rolling on the floor. (I’m not saying that happened to me or anything.)
If the you are using are whole, put them in the food processor and chop them pretty fine. You don’t want them powdery, but they need to be small enough to stick easily. Spread the mixture out evenly on a plate.
Line a cookie sheet with the wax paper. If your apples are large you may need two sheets. You don’t want the apples to touch.
Take your dates, water and about ½ cup of the raw honey and add them to your food processor or blender.. Blend until the dates are smooth as possible, it should look pretty pasty.
Add this mixture to your saucepan, turn the heat to medium or medium-low. Add the butter, sea salt, and remaining honey. Get ready to stir! And wait. And stir. And wait. Repeat.
If you are impatient (like me) and not very familiar with making candy, this will probably feel like it takes forever. My Gramma tried to teach me how to make fudge repeatedly but I can’t say as I ever succeeded very well.—she’d be proud now! Keep stirring, but don’t’ worry too much, I walked away several times to tend to the fussy baby.
I found it took a little over 20 minutes to get this to the right consistency. It should be bubbly and darken substantially in color. (See the before and after pictures.) If you’re a candy maker, this called the “hard-ball” stage. Who knew?! If you’re like me you will have no idea what this means. Besides the substantial change in color, my successful batch** had bubbles that were very big and bubbled slowly. It shouldn’t look like a quick boil—think a nice, slow bubbling witches cauldron and you’re on the right track. I also tested by dipping an apple slice in and seeing if the caramel ran off. When it stuck pretty well I decided it was done.
The rest is pretty simple. Remove the saucepan from heat. Dip your apples in and swirl them around, you can also use a spoon and spoon some over the tops too, then roll them in the nuts. You could also roll them in shredded coconut. Set them up on your wax paper and let them sit and harden. I left mine out overnight. The fridge or a cool place would be ideal, but I was out of fridge space and they were fine.
**Yes, I had one batch that was less than successful. Surprisingly, it was my second batch. See above about my lack of patience and crabby babies. What I learned? Don’t get impatient. Make sure it it’s bubbly, and if you think it’s done cook it a little longer.