Saturday, October 30, 2010

An adventure in firsts:

A few weeks ago, I got some apples in my CSA box. My initial reaction was to buy caramel sauce, and make a lovely snack to take to work with me. Sadly, I couldn't find any caramel sauce in stores whose first ingredient WASN'T high fructose corn syrup, which I try to avoid.

So I said to myself, hmmm. I've been cooking a lot lately... trying new things... I'm sure it's not that hard ... I'll just make some myself! So, I bought some brown sugar and went home to find a recipe.

I quickly found out that contrary to what I originally thought ... caramel sauce is not made of brown sugar.

So I scratched that, went to Epicurious (which is my favorite), got out my sugar jar and assembled the rest of the ingredients.

It's pretty simple. Water, sugar, cream, and butter.

And here's what you do:

Stir 1 1/2 c. sugar and 1/2 cup water in heavy, large saucepan over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves.

Then you increase the heat (I went somewhere between med-hi and high), and boil without until the syrup turns a golden amber color (around 12 or so minutes, maybe a little less.) (This is modified from the original recipe, which called for deep amber. The comments suggested that you stick with golden. It was a good idea.) You can occasionally brush down the sides of the pan with a pastry brush, if needed, and swirl the pan to mix.

Just boiling...

Starting to turn...

And this is the color I stopped at.

Remove from heat, whisk in butter. (I stirred rather than whisked, and that may have been a bad idea.)

Gradually add cream (mixture will bubble vigorously), and stir over low heat until smooth. Cool to lukewarm before serving.

When I stirred, I couldn't get it completely smooth - a big clump of sugar stuck to the spoon, but I figured it would be okay. I was right.

Yummy bowl of caramel!

So then I ate my little snack of apples with caramel sauce - and was disappointed. The sauce was way too delicate for raw, tart apples. So I decided - I needed to make a pie.

I had a spare refrigerated crust that needed to be used. I know it's lazy, but I really didn't have 2 or 3 hours to make one, and I wanted a quick and easy pie.

Now here's the "first" part: I didn't use a recipe. Once again - I figured, I've been cooking/baking a lot, I've made apple pies before, how hard can it be? So I made a pie (but not the crust) from scratch.

I used about 4 apples, thinly sliced, and put them in the crust. Dumbly, I didn't think to add the sugar and spices before, so I just sort of mixed it all up in the crust before baking it. I used probably 1/2 c. sugar, maybe a tsp. of cinnamon, maybe more, and a shake or two of nutmeg. Then I cut up some butter and dotted it all over the apples. I baked it (I think) at like 375 for about 30 minutes or so? I honestly don't remember.

And here it is:

By all means, it was not the best apple pie I've ever had. It was incredibly simple, and could have been a little wetter. But it was PERFECT with the caramel sauce. The simplicity of the pie was perfect with the sweetness of the sauce, and it was a delightful little snack. And, I was pretty proud of myself for not using a recipe.

I'm getting braver in the kitchen. It's a bit scary sometimes, and I get nervous before seeing (and tasting) the final product. But I'm growing and stretching and usually the food is good and we are pleased. And it makes me happy :)

1 comment:

  1. awesome! I love making my own recipes in the kitchen. Sometimes it can be so much less stress. This looks delicious :)