One of the cool benefits of living way north of the GW Bridge and the Big Apple is that we are in real apple country. On a whim, we can take the kids to a local orchard not ten minutes from our house, and become one with nature. It feels just like the olden days – only back then, the farmers would pay hired hands to pick the apples, while we actually pay the farmers to please, please let us harvest their fruit.
With our toddlers in tow, it took the better part of a leisurely hour and a half to collect our bushel’s worth. There were all kinds of folks up in those trees. You can easily spot the real apple connoisseurs: they come equipped with a knife and magnifying glass – and they taste each variety, talk about it, inspect it, thumb their noses at subpar apples, and toss them to the ground disdainfully. I think they had fancy foreign accents too, but that could be my imagination working overtime.
Then there were plenty of families like ours. Our apple criterion was not quite the same as those snooty gourmets, but it was based on our own very strict checklist. To get into our basket, the apples: 1) must be reachable by someone smaller than three feet tall (there are only so many times Mommy and Daddy can pick you up), 2) must have no soft spots, and 3) no worm holes.
So we picked our Granny Smith and Rome, our Cortland and Macintosh, and we were on our way. It cost us 25 bucks for the experience – but honestly, I think we wound up with 50 pounds of apples. Back home, I started unpacking our produce and panic struck. HELP! What’s a gal who never baked an apple pie in her life to do with oodles and oodles of apples? OK – I can make Puff Pastry Apple Purses, and even my 4-year-old can help. Great! The Purses were super. Only 88 apples left.
I remembered that as a kid, one of my favorite treats was a caramel apple. (I discovered a rocky road version – almost too fab for words.) I was all ready to fire up the caramel, when my other half interjected that it would be such a waste — he doesn’t like caramel apples.
I should have been able to predict this impasse. Since the day we got married and discovered that I’m into fish and salads and he’s all about meat and potatoes, we rarely relished the same meals. Why should we agree on apples?
The man wanted candy-coated apples. He yearned for candy-coated apples. It had something to do with his childhood, a day at the beach, or the circus or something, a fight with his brother, a gift from his sister, I don’t know. All I knew was that a candy-coated apple would resolve a long-standing ache in his heart.
I put away the caramel. After all, I’m an adult. I can give up my caramel apple if it means that much to my husband. You know, I never thought I would enjoy the process, but we had such fun. I discovered that making candy-coated apples is a great activity to do with the kids, and we munched and crunched our way to family bliss!
Cook: 30 min
Cool: 5 min
Total: 45 min
Yield: 15 Candied Apples
2 cups white sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1 1/2 cups water
8 drops red food coloring