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I’ve been wracking my brain trying to decide what to bake with my beautiful new Mountain Rose Apples from Mikuni Wild Harvest. These extremely rare and limited apples are currently grown in the Mount Hood River Valley of Oregon only once a year and when I found out that they were in short supply, I had to have them! The price is, um, a bit insane but it’s Chanukah time so I just bought a special gift for myself and ordered a package of these special apples. As soon as the box came, I sliced in to one of the delicate green apples to reveal a bright rose-colored center all the way through. Before even taking the first bite, I had to smell the apple since I read that they smell like cotton candy. Can you believe it?!? A cotton candy scented apple! The apple tasted a little bit tart, a little bit sweet and, dare I say it, reminded me a bit of a strawberry. Inspired by the scent and flavors of the apple, I could only think of one thing…a carnival! And what is my favorite thing to eat every time I got to a carnival? That’s easy. Caramel Apples! So here is my deconstructed version of a caramel apple with decadent homemade peanut butter caramel. This recipe truly features the elegance of my new unique fruit.
Peanut Butter Caramel Ingredients
makes 2 cups, recipe adapted from thelunacafe.com
2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup water
1 cup whipping cream, room temperature
4 tablespoons unsalted margarine, room temperature
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar
4 Tbsp margarine
4 Tbsp vegetable shortening
4 Mountain Rose Apples, cored and sliced (or 3-4 regular green apples)
2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 Tbsp flour
1/4 cup candied pecans
1 egg + water, whisked
I began with the silky homemade caramel so it would have a chance to cool while I worked on the dough and apple filling. In a pot, I combined the sugar, cream of tartar and water and set over medium-low heat to caramelize. I stirred constantly until the sugar was dissolved completely and the syrup was clear, around 5-8 minutes. To prevent crystallization, do not rush this step!
When the sugar was fully dissolved, I raised the heat, brought the syrup to a boil and stopped stirring. Using a candy thermometer, I continued heating the sugar without stirring until 340 degrees F and a medium-dark amber color. I highly recommend using a thermometer! If you don’t feel like using one, just read my homemade taffy recipe and you might change your mind.
When the mixture settled down, I stirred with a silicon spatula until smooth. I returned the pot to the stove and boiled until the mixture reached 248 degrees F, around 1 minute. I removed the pan from the heat, added the salt and vanilla and stirred. I let the caramel cool for 20 minutes, until warm but not too hot, and stirred in the peanut butter.
If you have a peanut allergy, just leave out the peanut butter! The caramel will be just as delicious! Quick note straight from thelunacafe.com: “If the caramel is too stiff after incorporating the peanut butter or when at room temperature, warm it slightly in the microwave and then stir in cream, 1 tablespoon at a time, until you reach the desired consistency. You can even add enough cream to achieve a sauce consistency.”
While the caramel was cooling, I moved on to the galette dough, which is so simple you won’t believe it. In a food processor, I combined the flour, salt and sugar then pulsed in the margarine and shortening until the mixture looked like cornmeal. I added a small amount of ice water until the dough started to come together then I wrapped it, flattened in to a disk and refrigerated for 30 minutes.
I folded the dough over the apples and it really had a great rustic look. I slid the galette with the parchment paper on to a baking pan and brushed the exposed dough with a whisked egg thinned out with a bit of water.
I let the galette cool a bit before taking the first taste and boy was it worth the wait! It was like biting into a sweet delicious caramel apple dipped in peanut butter and pecans. My fave! The apples kept their incredible color and flavor, the salted peanut butter caramel added a creamy silky texture and the candied pecans were the crunch-factor I was hoping for.
If you don’t like pecans you can leave them out since the crust is perfectly crunchy as well, but I love the added sweetness and crunch from the candied nut. And if you think it’s too much effort to make the candied pecans to go along with the caramel, I say they are worth the effort because they freeze incredibly well and I use them all the time when I bake. Anytime a recipe says to use pecans, I use my homemade candied pecans. Yum!