I fell out of love with apples a few years ago. It seemed everyone I bought was floury and lacked juiciness.
When I expressed my dismay, my friend JJ from 84th and 3rd told me I was likely buying birthday apples and I had to confess I had no idea what that meant. Turns out "birthday apples" are apples that have spent an entire year in cold storage. Not an appetising thought!
I only eat apples in season now - most varieties have their peak season between May and August. My favourite variety is Jazz - just the right amount of tart, crunch and sweet juiciness.
salted caramel apple dip
Yield 6 serves
Make the most of apples in season by serving them with this delicious salted caramel and cream cheese dip. You can make the salted caramel sauce ahead of time and assemble quickly before serving.
crisp red and green apples, cut into wedges to serve
1 tbs fresh lemon juice
250g block cream cheese, softened
Salted caramel sauce (recipe below)
⅔ cup pecans, chopped
Salted Caramel Sauce:
1 cup sugar
2 tbs water
1 tsp sea salt
Preheat oven to lowest setting.
Toss the sliced apple wedges with fresh lemon juice to prevent browning. Set aside.
For the salted caramel sauce, warm the cream in a small saucepan over low heat. (The aim is to slightly warm the cream because sometimes cold dairy products curdle when added to hot liquids).
Add the sugar and water to a heavy-bottomed saucepan and stir to combine. Set spoon aside and do not stir the sugar mixture again.
Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. If sugar crystals remain on the sides of the pan, gently brush them back down with a moistened silicon baking brush.
Continue boiling until the mixture turns a nice amber color. If a dark spot forms on one side due to uneven heating, lift the pan and gently swirl until the color is even again. Return pan to the burner and reduce heat. Watch the mixture carefully; in my experience caramel, like avocados, has a tendency to get too brown the moment you look away.
Slowly whisk in the warmed cream. Be careful when you do - the hot sugar mixture may bubble up when the cooler cream is added.
Remove from heat and add butter and salt. Stir with a clean spoon until butter is totally incorporated into the mixture. Don't reuse the spoon from earlier, reintroducing sugar crystals to the pan can cause your caramel sauce to crystalize as it cools. Keep warm until serving.
To serve the dip, shape the cream cheese into a circle on a serving plate. Drizzle with caramel sauce and top with the chopped pecans. Serve with crispy sliced apples and additional caramel sauce for dipping.
Did you know that Coles and Woolworths stopped waxing their apples last year? Apples develop a little bit of wax naturally as they ripen, but the shop apples no longer get an extra coat and are a bit closer to what nature intended - good news!