As the cool, crisp Autumn season rolls in, our taste buds begin to crave the fruits of the season. We will be sharing a few of our favorite fall recipes in the days to come, all with a lavender flair, of course! This recipe happens to be one of our favorites. After one bite of these buttery, sweet and salty caramel covered apples, you may never want to eat a "Plain Jane" caramel apple again. Bon Apetit!
1 cup milk
1 ½ cups heavy cream
2 teaspoons dried lavender buds
¾ cup unsalted butter
¾ cup honey
1 ¾ cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ teaspoon salt
4-6 apples, cored and sliced (we prefer Granny Smith)
toasted hazelnuts or cashews, chopped (optional)
A large pot that holds at least 4 quarts
Place the milk, heavy cream and lavender buds in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Once the liquid comes to a boil, turn off the heat and let the lavender steep for 30 minutes. Strain through a fine mesh sieve, reserving the liquid. You may now discard the lavender. Measure the liquid; you should now have approximately 2 cups.
Combine all of the ingredients except the vanilla and salt in a deep saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture comes to a full boil. Using a pastry brush, brush down any sugar that has crept up the sides of the pan. When the mixture reads 240° F on the candy thermometer, begin stirring constantly until it registers 248° F, about 20 minutes total.
Immediately remove from heat, stir in the vanilla and the salt, and allow to cool slightly (about 10-15 minutes.)
Core and slice the apples and arrange on a decorative plate. Pour the caramel over the apples and garnish with chopped nuts or whipped cream (optional)
[Chef’s Notes: If you’ve never made caramel before, don’t fret – it's actually very simple to prepare. Choose a heavy pot with very tall sides, as the caramel boils up to about 3 times its actual volume.
If using this recipe as a standard caramel recipe without steeping the lavender (or another herb) in the liquid, only use 1 cup of heavy cream. The extra ½ cup accounts for the liquid lost from evaporation and that which is soaked up by the lavender. Brushing down the sides of the pot with a pastry brush prevents crystallization of the sugar during the caramelization process, resulting in a smooth and creamy caramel. When working with a candy thermometer, there are several temperatures to note: 240° F is known as “soft ball” stage, while 248° F is “firm ball.” As sugar gets hotter than this, it goes into “hard ball,” “soft crack” and “hard crack.”
The caramel will keep for one week in an airtight container.]
Caramel Recipe by Monica Glass via The Gilded Fork