Saturday, November 19, 2011

Cookish: Something Sweet

It's fall; time for caramel apples! I adapted the recipe from Chow: Sorry for the odd measurements; I cut the recipe in half and had to make some substitutions due to what I had on hand.


  • 4 large apples
  • 4 chopsticks or craft sticks
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 7/8 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup  corn syrup
  • 1/8 cup molasses
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter 
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  1. Wash the apples under hot water to get off any wax coating, then dry thoroughly. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat and set aside. Set the apples stem side up, and push the sticks down into the apple cores; set aside. Prepare an ice water bath by filling a bowl halfway with ice and water.
  2. Combine the remaining ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook until the mixture registers 250°F on a candy thermometer, about 10 minutes. [I lost my candy thermometer, so I just went with the ice bath test: You're looking for "firm ball" stage.) Immediately dip the bottom of the saucepan in the ice water bath and let it chill until the bubbles have subsided, about 1 minute. Stir until stiff caramel from the bottom is incorporated into the warm caramel on top. Remove from the water bath.
  3. Dip the apples one at a time into the caramel, rotating once to coat 3/4 of the way up the sides. Lift the apple straight up from the caramel, letting the excess drip back into the pot until the drips have slowed, about 10 to 15 seconds. Flip the apple so the stem is facing downward and let the caramel set, about 10 to 15 seconds more. Place on the prepared baking sheet, stem side up, and repeat with the remaining apples. (If the caramel gets too hard to coat the apples well, set the pan over low heat and rewarm, stirring constantly, until the caramel is loose and pourable.)
  4. Refrigerate the apples until set, at least 10 minutes. The apples can be made and stored in the refrigerator up to 1 day in advance.
NOTE: I was taking these to a party, so I wanted slices instead of the whole apples. First, I cut the apple and dipped just the slices. Don't do this. The caramel only sticks to the peel, not the inner part of the apple. So, dip the whole apple, and then slice it. That's your best bet. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Bookish Review: The Magicians

I have mixed feelings about this book. I had read Grossman's previous work and I was not a huge fan. But, this came recommended by friends and got a lot of buzz and good reviews, so I thought I'd give it a short. There are definitely a lot of Narnia and Harry Potter allusions, as perhaps you'd expect. The book is about a teenager who's a bit obsessed with a Narnia-like series of books and then discovers that magic is real, but it's a lot harder than it seems in books. All hunky-dory so far. Grossman's writing of teenagers can be a little cliche, but it's not unbearable. My problem is, as we all know, I like a happy ending, especially with my magical realism/fantasy. There's no happy ending here--no ending, really, since there's a sequel (I'm not sure how many books are planned). The problem is, I didn't love the characters enough, so I probably won't read the others. If you're a Narnia fan who's grown up to hate saccharine endings and like a little darkness in your novels instead, you may enjoy this. Me, I'd rather read Harry Potter.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Bookish Review: Heads You Lose

If you've read other reviews on the blog, you probably know I love Lisa Lutz's Spellman series. This is a departure; it's a murder mystery written in alternating chapters by Lisa and David Hayward. The story is kind of odd, but the fun part is the snarky letters Lisa & David write to each other preceding each chapter (as well as the footnote comments when one reads the other's work). I didn't love it as much as the Spellman books, but it is still pretty entertaining, particularly if you enjoy the writing process or if you have ever had to collaborate with someone on a project and it didn't turn out quite as you hoped. They wrap up all the loose ends by the final chapter, don't worry. Overall, an enjoyable romp.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Cookish: Something Sweet

Sorry for the lack of posts lately! Life has been very busy. But I have a special treat for you. Do you (like me) love Girl Scout cookies? Of course you do. And are Samoas your favorite? Of course they are; you have good taste. Do yourself a favor and make these:

It's really pretty simple and the result is delicious! (I know, I made them last night.) They recommended dipping the bottoms in chocolate as well as drizzling on top, which is probably the better way to do it, but I'm lazy. I just did the drizzle--delish!