A small guilty pleasure for my family on Halloween is Caramel Apples.
It is so sad to me that none of the kids found out Trick Or Treating last evening, unless their parents made them, will ever experience the singular joy of caramel apples.
I lived in an apartment in Bayside N.Y. when I was a child and most everyone who lived in that place knew the children that lived there. In all honesty, the occupants of that apartment building gave new meaning to the term, "it takes a village." Our Mother worked but that mattered not because we were "under surveillance" the entire day in that small New York microcosm being tended to by everyone from Mr. Macalusso at the corner deli to Pete, the tile man and as if to add insult to injury there was the Chinese laundry lady too. All this to say that though it was New York, it was also 1958 and things were more gentle then; even in the Big Apple. Home made stuff was distributed there not only due to economics but also in sincere desire to offer a really special Halloween treat.
Whitey and Irene, our next door neighbors, old enough, no older than my Mom's parents, made us Caramel Apples each Halloween. I mean, they were our neighbors, no one thought it necessary...No, not even in New York to X-ray those delightful confections to ascertain if they had, say "a razor inserted within."
To offer tribute to a kinder time that will likely never come this way again a recipe designed for making memories. It certainly made mine.
Irene, Whitey, a sincere thanks from the little girl next door and her younger brother and their Mom (doing all she could to make it another day alone with more on her plate than we ever knew as kids) for making Halloween such a special and well loved time.
Irene's Caramel Apples:
1 bag of good quality caramels (14 oz.) To quote Irene...Garbage in, Garbage out... So these must be nice caramels. Irene says so.
6 popsicle sticks. Now, you can buy sticks for this purpose. Then, you just saved the summertime popsicles, washed them up and kept them "for good."
2 T. water
1 tsp. vanilla. Not extract. Irene said.
6 Tart Apples They should be tart to create opposing flavors as that is the key to the delicate dance that have made these a Halloween favorite for years.
Unwrap all the good quality caramels. Now, it is necessary that one employs at least enough restraint during this process that when you are finished there is enough caramels to coat the six apples.
Place them in a saucepan on extremely low adding the water but not the vanilla just yet.
As they begin to melt- using a wooden spoon, give them a turn in the saucepan taking care not to let the bottom stick.
Wash up your apples and dry very well. Irene said! Remove stem gently.
Place a piece of wax paper on the counter ready for the newly caramel coated apples.
When caramel is all melted and has cooled just for a minute or two add the vanilla. Stir again and now you are ready to go. Can't wait too long or caramel starts to harden and it will not properly coat the apples.
Insert sticks in the apples and dunk the apple in the caramel turning the pot so that the caramel all goes toward the side enabling you to really get to the top of the apple with the caramel coating.
Gently pull the apple out by the stick taking care to do this gently and not dislodging the stick from the apple. Allow just a bit of caramel to drain off your apple before placing on wax paper to cool.
You can dip in salted pecans or cashews if you like but Irene was purist.
In the daily operations of my Asheville Bed and Breakfast I am constantly asked for recipes. I never decline. It is love in action when I repeat this recipe every year in memory of Irene and Whitey and all the folks in our Bayside community who loved us, watched us and always had our backs.
Patti and Gary Wiles Innkeepers At Cumberland Falls Bed and Breakfast Inn Your Asheville Bed and Breakfast