I asked the Internet what kind of pie to make. There were a lot of suggestions and I settled between either one of the cream varieties, or apple. I asked Mark what he would prefer.
"Apple Cream Pie!" he said with way more enthusiasm than was probably necessary.
"There's no such thing." I told him, totally not rolling my eyes or anything.
He said "sure there is!" and told me to go find one on the Internet. And, of course, I did.
After sorting through quiet a few that looked like your basic apple pie but with cream mixed in, I found Old Fashioned Apple Cream Pie on Allrecipes.
This is the picture they show:
isn't it pretty? If you say yes, you'd be wrong, because that pretty looking pie is slathered in apricot preserves. I'll give you a moment to either vomit, or get the urge under control. Hurry and scroll down to get it out of your mind.
I hope that's better. If you're one of the fools that believe there is nothing wrong with apricots, you probably believe that there is nothing wrong with plucking the toes off of babies or finding tasty snacks in the treads of your shoes. Disgusting.
Anyway, it's okay if you feel that way. I'll still let you read my blog and everything! And not because I only have 5 readers, but because I'm just that nice.
Oh that's a lie, there's not enough nice reserves in my whole being to forgive apricot fraternization.
I just wanted to illustrate (since a great part of the caramel adventure came of not wanting to do the preserve thing) that using apricot was simply not an option. And also that they are gross and wrong and proof of evil.
Anyway, when I told the Internet that I'd settled on a pie, a friend mentioned that it looked good, but the apricot idea seemed off. I agreed and since using any other preserve seemed just as stupid, I decided to attempt to make a caramel sauce to brush on the pie - an APPLE caramel sauce. I know right!!! Yay apples!
I found This Recipe and decided I could fiddle with it to make a sauce, instead of the candy.
But, okay, at some point I decided I was also afraid of making sauce and thought it would turn out weird on the pie. I decided to put the apples on the bottom of the pie crust, and then the pudding mixture on top of those, and then whipped cream/cool whip on the top. That would take care of my caramel sausing issues.
...I'll tell you more about how that turned out later.
But I still wanted to make caramels because, as mentioned on other posts, the ones from Theo's Chocolates were in my head, demanding to be made.
So, back to the caramels.
The recipe tells you to boil down apple cider with mulling spices until it's reduced to 1/3 of a cup. That was the first thing I did and the easiest part of this whole process. Also, I wanted to drink it. It.Was.So.Good.
But I didn't, because even a spoonful is quite a lot when 1/3 of a cup is all you have.
So yes, you mix that with the heated cream/butter mixture and set it aside until you're done burning the sugar.
See, I'd never made caramels before where you cooked the sugar first and then added ingredients in to it. I've always done the sweetened-condensed-milk everything-in-the-pan-at-once variety. But I'd caramelized sugar plenty of times before for flan, so I wasn't afraid.
No where near caramelized:
You see how it's a light/medium amber color towards the upper left of the pan?
You see how it's much darker to the lower right of the pan?
I took it off the heat at that moment, and my super heavy pan continued cooking it, like it does. I didn't get a picture of the burnt section that the little dark spot became because I was trying to convince myself that it was still okay.
And it was okay, sorta. Most of the sugar was the dark caramelized color I was going for. So I figured I was this far, I'd finish it up and screw the results.
They came out super dark, and burnt tasting. Bitter and burnt, but definitely apple-y!
So I decided to make some more.
This was just your basic Basic Caramel Recipe but I subbed in a little more than half a cup of reduced Simply Apple apple juice, plus the liquid pulled from simmering the apples for the pie, and cut down the corn syrup by 1/3-1/2 cup. Then I just bubbled it until the candy thermometer reached 250 F and dumped it into a pan to cool.
|I burned this too.|
It wouldn't be a day in the kitchen if I weren't burning something.
It wasn't so bad, but there were little twisties of extra-sticky bits that tasted only a little burned mixed into the whole batch.
I had these two pans of mostly burnt and slightly burnt candy sitting on my counter. They sat there from Sunday until Wednesday (Mark only ate about half a pounds worth) when I decided they all needed to be coated in chocolate.
I took the second slab and cut it into squares each with a toasted pecan half. Then I dipped it in milk chocolate and put it on a cooling rack.
Because I'm a moron.
Soft caramels in warm chocolate put on a little wire rack. I did around ten of them before I realized that this wasn't a genius way for excess chocolate to drip off the candies. No, this was a genius way to make caramel/pecan/chocolate swirl blobs with metal wire suspended in the middle. Hey, I made art!
And then I undid my art by plopping everything on waxed paper instead.
The next 80 went okay and then I did the burnt caramels too.
Surprise! They were greatly improved by the milk chocolate (I feel the other batch would have been better suited to dark chocolate.) Too bad there were only a doze or so. There should have been about three times as much, but I was stupid and followed the recipe.
If you go back and look (and if you haven't already I know you won't!) you'll see that it tells you to prepare a pan by lining it in foil and spraying it down with Pam or the like. When I read this I thought it was stupid, because obviously you'd be stuck picking foil out of candy, or risking leaving bits in it and somebody biting down on it. Stupid right?
Except for I did it anyway? So who's dumber? The one telling someone to do something stupid, or the one dumb enough to recognize that it is a recipe for a pain in the ass, but does it anyway.
Clearly it's not me. Clearly.
So I ended up throwing half of the burnt stuff away because I figured it'd be not-so-great anyway, and I didn't want to coax foil off of a big sticky wad of candy. Too bad.
And I'll never make this recipe again because making them the other way is just easier, and I'd only want to do this again to try and replicate this second batch. However, I accept that I am not skilled enough to get just the right amount of burnt on my sugar ever again. I'd either end up making a pain in the ass version of the other kind, or setting my kitchen on fire with burnt sugar and rage.
So, there you have it. Yay adventures.
Oh right, the pie.
So I said I'd decided to put the apples on the bottom of it, and I had, but I made the pudding mix first (by the way, I went with french vanilla pudding and added a splash of buttershots liqueur while ditching the lemon zest) and then got worried that it would look weird if it sat in the bowl for a while. You see, I was no where near having the apples done enough or cooled enough to put them in the crust and top them with the custard.
The results: Well, imagine the picture waaaaay at the beginning of this post, but imagine all the apples in a big messy heap.
Then imagine a ragged slice taken out.
Then imagine some grubby fingered lady kept stealing apple chunks off the top, so that instead of covering the pie the apples sorta lazed around on top of it.
Picturing all that?
Good. By now you shouldn't have to imagine why I didn't take a picture.
It was really pretty good though. The whole family approve (well, Max ate the pudding and the crust, but said the apples were weird- probably tasted too much like some sort of plant) and I would definitely recommend making it yourself. Just - apples on bottom - that way you won't have to worry about glazing it or arranging half-cooked fruit all pretty.
Sunday #5: Catch my post later this week to see what I burned next!