Now that it officially feels like fall, I decided that my recipes should reflect the weather outside.
By now, many orchards have weekend hay rides, corn mazes, apple picking, and fresh cider. Growing up, the annual caramel apple was my all time favorite treat. However, 99% of caramel I have ever come across is made out of high fructose corn syrup. Though this is convenient for producers, I don’t believe it is all together necessary, especially for the consumer.
HFCS, derived from GMO corn and made through extensive processing, is one of the leading causes behind obesity, liver failure, dementia, cancer, tooth decay, heart disease, diabetes, and much much more. Not only that, but the FDA ignores the fact that this man-made sweetener contains contaminants such as mercury. Unless a brand advertises as being Non-GMO and (or) HFCS-free, it will most likely contain hidden sources of this ingredient. Click here for just a short list of foods containing this toxic ingredient.
Because of the many harmful side effects of HFCS, I set out to make a recipe that could mimic the sticky caramel that we all know and love (without compromising the individual). Coconut sugar, a low glycemic sweetener derived from the sap of the coconut, became my number one choice over maple syrup. Though it may be “healthier” or, less harmful than HFCS, coconut sugar is still sugar, and thus should be eaten in moderation. However, if you are going to splurge, at least do it in a way that is most flavorful, right?
Though you may be a bit wary of making caramel yourself, I can promise it is not as daunting as it seems. After many experiments with making caramel, brittle, and toffee, the key I learned is simply being attentive to what is going on. Listening to music, texting, and (or) chatting are the last things you want to be doing with a hot pot of sugar on the stove. If you are one who gets tired of standing in the kitchen, bringing a stool by the stove is a great way to help keep your eyes on the thermometer. Another important note is to get everything set up before you begin heating the mixture. With one last minute leap across the kitchen, you could easily turn around to burnt caramel. Therefore, to make the process as least stressful as possible, put everything in its place so it is there waiting when you need it. If you do all of these things, making caramel will be “easy as pie.”
Homemade Coconut Sugar Caramel Apples
- 10 oz full fat canned coconut milk
- 1 cup coconut sugar
- 1/2 cup coconut nectar
- 2 tbsp lard
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 8-10 apples (smaller is better)
- chopped cashews *optional
- shredded unsweetened coconut *optional
- Coat the bottom of a large cookie sheet or baking dish with oil and line with parchment paper.
- Prepare apples by washing, fully drying, and then piercing the cores with a popsicle stick.
- Place chopped cashews and coconut in two separate shallow bowls.
- Fill a small bowl with cold water and set by your stove, along with the pastry brush. *You will be using this later to make sure that the sugar does not crystalize up the sides of your pot.
- In a large pot, stir together the coconut sugar, coconut nectar, coconut milk, lard, and salt over medium-low heat, until melted.
- Brush down the sides of your pot with the wet pastry brush.
- Turn heat to medium-high, clip candy thermometer to the side of the pot, and allow the mixture to come to a roaring boil.
- Every few minutes, brush down the sides of the pot with water, and gently stir the caramel until the temperature reads 235-240 degrees. *the higher the temp, the harder your caramel will set.
- Immediately remove pot from heat and aggressively stir in vanilla.
- Let cool for 5 minutes
- Dip and twirl each apple in the caramel, letting the excess drip off into the pot.
- If desired, roll apple in optional toppings and place back on the parchment lined sheet.
- Repeat for remaining apples and let set for at least a hour.
Psalm 32:10 “Many are the woes of the wicked, but the Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the man who trusts in Him.