Monday, May 4, 2009

Today's Kool Idea: Caramel Apples for National Teacher Day

Tomorrow is National Teacher Day, and is part of a week-long celebration honoring our teachers. It is our children's opportunity to thank the special teachers in their lives for their hard work and dedication throughout the school year. Few professionals impact our lives as teachers do...each of us has undoubtedly had at least one teacher who profoundly affected and inspired us as children (and adults). Though we believe that teachers should be recognized every day, National Teacher Day is indeed an ideal time to join together with other communities and acknowledge how much we value and respect their contributions to our children's future.

National Teacher Day is met with much anticipation in The Daily Kool household. Our kids aren't satisfied unless they give presents to all of their teachers...homemade, of course. So, every year, we grab a bunch of extra-large Granny Smiths and make a perennial favorite...caramel apples. One of these delectable creations in a gift bag complete with ribbon and a handmade tag makes a perfect token for National Teacher Day. Trite? Perhaps, but seriously...these are incredibly well received by every teacher our kids have given them to. Plus, making caramel apples is a great way to bond with our children in the kitchen.

Caramel apples can be a fickle business...they are definitely not for the faint of heart. The biggest obstacle that most of us face is keeping that $@%&! caramel from sliding off the apple. Trust us...we empathize. After all, we have certainly had our share of unsuccessful caramel apple attempts. That's why The Daily Kool is here to help you create this delicious treat with minimal glitches and optimum success. Be aware, though...they won't necessarily be picture perfect...if you're unwilling to settle for anything less and are willing to pay a premium, feel free to leave it to the professionals at your local gourmet chocolate establishment, Mrs. Prindables or Amy's (award winning and our personal favorite). Don't worry...we won't judge.

The key to preventing the caramel slide is in the preparation of your apple. We use room-temperature apples only, washed thoroughly and then dried completely. This is extremely important...if your apple is not dry, it will not hold your caramel. Another trick is to make sure that there is no waxy residue on your apple. A quick scrub with a veggie brush has always worked for us, but you can always dip the apple in boiling water careful to do this very quickly, though...otherwise it will be disastrous.

Once you get over the caramel hurdle, it is really incredibly easy to create scrumptious caramel apples. We have put the recipe we use below...don't expect homemade caramel from The Daily Kool here, though...remember, we are doing this with the kids, so we stick to the basics...and Kraft wrapped caramels, of course. Making caramel apples is a fun and rewarding activity to do with the kids. It is just a small way of expressing our gratitude for the difference teachers make in our lives every day. So, please take a moment to thank your teachers on National Teacher Day for bringing passion and a commitment to educating, inspiring and empowering our children. They deserve it!

Slow Cooker Caramel Apples

  • 2 packages (14oz each) Kraft wrapped caramels
  • 1/4 cup water (or milk)
  • 6-8 medium (or 3-4 large) apples (we like Granny Smith, but McIntosh, Gala, or Fuji work fine also)
  • sticks for apples (we prefer craft picks with a pointed edge for better insertion)
  1. Prepare apples as described above. Insert pick (or stick) into stem end of each apple and set aside.
  2. In slow cooker, combine caramels and water. Cover and cook on high for 1 to 1-1/2 hours, or until melted, stirring frequently to prevent scorching. When melted, switch setting to LOW.
  3. Line a baking pan with parchment paper...butter or spray with Pam.
  4. Dip apple into hot caramel, turning to coat entire surface, spooning caramel over apples if necessary...please supervise your children carefully if they are helping with this step...the crock pot will be hot and caramel can scald.
  5. Holding the apple above the pot, allow excess caramel to drip off, then scrape bottoms of apples and place on prepared pan.
  6. Put the pan of coated apples in the refrigerator at least one hour to set thoroughly.
Note: Though we prefer to use a slow cooker for our caramel apples, you can also get great results with a large saucepan on medium low.

Another Note: We sometimes get more creative with this recipe by rolling the bottom of each freshly dipped apple (before refrigeration) into one of the following: crushed Oreo cookies, chopped nuts, sprinkles, mini M&Ms, etc. We wear latex-type gloves for this step to help firmly press the toppings. We have also drizzled dipped apples with melted milk, white and/or dark chocolate. The possibilities are endless!

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  1. I'm going to buy the ingredients today!!! A fantastic old-fashioned (yummy) ideas! Thanks!

  2. I'm addicted to these, excellent :) Sheri