I LOVE the fall in New England (even though it's sadly over now that I'm finally posting this). Apple orchards, and all of the tastiness that goes with them, are plentiful and only a short drive from the city. Last year, we decided to try a different orchard so that we could bring our pup with us - he LOVES to get outdoors & run! It was great to have him along, and while it was a more "grown up" orchard with an associated vineyard & wine tasting, it just wasn't the same.
This year we decided to go back to the orchard we had went to the 2 prior years. First of all, it's an absolutely beautiful drive up the north shore. As soon as you arrive, you smell the aroma of apple cider donuts drifting through the air. We can't even make it out to the orchard without first stopping by the barn to pick up not 2, not 4, but 6 fresh donuts for the two of us!! (Hey, it's a one-time-a-year treat...I just keep telling myself that!)
To make us feel better about the donuts this year, we decided to walk out to the orchard instead of taking the hayride. It was a beautiful walk, with the crisp smell of fresh apples surrounding you. We always buy a peck of apples (plus eat a few along the way), and it always seems like so many apples, until we get home & dig into them. In fact, I had to go buy additional apples to make this!
I love caramel apples, so I thought I'd try something different this year. I'm posting the original caramel sauce, which I used in my dish. However, I felt like it tasted like a sugary sauce, and wasn't a very true caramel flavor. Maybe I've been spoiled by years of homemade caramels growing up, or maybe I messed up and didn't let it darken enough. Personally, when I make this again, I'd either buy a jar of caramel ice cream topping, or find a different caramel sauce recipe.
CARAMEL APPLE CRISP (Adapted from Show & Tell)
5 large apples of your choice - peeled, cored & thinly sliced
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon instant vanilla pudding mix
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl & allow to marinate while preparing the following parts.
HOMEMADE CARAMEL SAUCE
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter, cut into pats
1 cup whipping cream
Over medium high heat...put sugar in heavy bottom saucepan. As it begins to melt whisk in butter. As the mixture caramelizes, remove from heat & SLOWLY add in whipping cream. Continue to whisk til smooth. Set aside & allow to thicken.
1 small box of instant vanilla pudding mix (I used the remainder from the filling)
1/2 cup flour
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup quick cook/instant oats
1 cup of butter softened and cut up into pats
Mix all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Cut in the butter - it will be fairly dry.
ASSEMBLE in baking dish:
1) Marinated apple filling
2) Pour approximately 1/2 of the caramel sauce over the apples
3) Crumble the topping over the caramel & apples
Bake at 350F for approximately 45 minutes. Allow to cool some prior to serving.