To some, a bake sale is the public calling they been waiting for just to unleash Grandma Flavia’s cookies with that secret family ingredient (ham) and make people swoon. For me, it’s an OCDer’s worst nightmare; do I make fat laden items that sell like, well, hotcakes, or do I try something on a healthier side? Then there’s the packaging dilemma. Thanks to those amazing home bakers, cooking shows, and cupcake stands on every corner, we have to present our foods in packaging that rivals a princess Barbie gift-emporium. And then, if you’re anywhere close to the sale itself, you watch how fast your items go – or not in the case of my brownie pops. “We better mark your brownies ‘sugar free,’ because most people get upset stomachs from Splenda,”said the mom running the school’s bake sale. Why doesn’t that crunchtime woman just make chocolate chip cookies like the rest of us?
You followers know that I made caramel apples for The Bake Sale.
Let’s forget that there are buckets of sugar in these and focus on the Granny Smith’s. Even though I didn’t get a true assessment of the fundraising value of my apples, the whole bake sale (for Japan) in Los Angeles raised $15K. I’d like to think I was responsible for none half of that.
These caramel apples are well worth the trouble. Picking up on the sea salted caramel craze and the goodness of chopped walnuts, I believe we made a guilt-free prize worthy of a bake sale display. Truthfully, these are so good and good for you, I urge you to make them at home and sell them to your kids. College fund or wine fund?
The trick as I learned through my trial batches, is to heat the sugars to a very precise temperature “firm ball”. But, if you can read and you own a candy thermometer (husbands will make a last-minute store run for these), it’s like a magical science experiment that you eat.
I found the cellophane sleeves at Surfas in LA, but there are online sources too. A little bakers string (all the rage this past holiday season), a tag, and now you’re in business.
We can balk at the packaging (do I hear moans?), but you gotta ‘present’ the food if it’s going to move off the table. Look at these genius ideas below and who wouldn’t spend a fortune to carry home the treats?
salted caramel apples – bake sale goods
preptime: 15 minutes
cooktime: 25 minutes (15 to heat sugars, 10 minutes to coat apples)
8 small apples, such as, Granny Smith or macoun
2 c light brown sugar
1/2 c maple syrup
1/3 c light agave syrup (corn syrup okay)
1/2 c heavy cream
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 c chopped walnuts
1 Tbsp of fleur de sel (sea salt)
- Remove the stems from the apples and scrub them under warm water and dry them. Insert a stick into the top of the apple.
- Line a baking sheet with waxed paper, set aside.
- Place walnuts and 3/4 tsp of fleur de sel in bowl, set aside.
- Put the sugar, maple syrup, agave syrup, and cream in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, swirling the pan but not stirring, until the mixture reaches 250 degrees F (firm ball stage) on a candy thermometer.
- Pull pan from the heat and stir in the butter.
- Tilt the saucepan and dip and spin each apple into the caramel, covering about 3/4 of the apple. Then, slowly spin in the air to let the caramel set and cool a tad, then dip bottoms in ground nuts before placing it on the prepared baking sheet until set.
- Sprinkle on a pinch of fleur de sel before caramel sets.
- Repeat with next apple.
- Refrigerate before packaging.
recipe adapted from food network and provided by your friends at crunchtimefood.com