Apparently it hit me. Last week I was urging Summer to stay and for the cool days of Fall to be a distant reality. Then I started to see Gravensteins pop up along country roads in farm stands that are only attended by a black box with the words, “honor system” painted on the front.
Shortly after that there was pie. The best I’ve made. The warmth of the oven still offensive as the Summer heat lingers.
Then this morning I woke up to a comforting gray sky (as well as a cold which definitely marks the new season) and I finally admitted that I am ready and eager for the changing season.
It could have also been these caramel covered pears and apples that brought me into the Fall mood. The scent of sweet honey bubbling on the stove wafting through the kitchen carrying with it an exotic, floral smell as freshly ground cardamom was tossed in. The kids were eager to get involved in the dipping process and even more eager to help with the eating of our freshly dipped fruit. Such helpful little kidlets.
We did manage to save a few and if you are lucky enough to be in Seattle area you can get your hands on these caramel covered beauties by going to SAVOUR in Ballard. My dear friend, Julie, has started a great program where each week in September a local blogger features a homemade treat that can be purchased at the store. I adore this idea as it is so much fun to provide an opportunity for some of you to actually eat the food you are seeing and reading about.
For those of you who are not in Seattle, I apologize for being a tease. Hopefully, someday we will meet and I will happen to have one of these caramel pears in my purse. Until then I urge you to make these yourself, then open your arms widely and embrace the coming season.
Fill your sink or a large bowl with a couple inches of ice water. This will be used to quickly stop the caramel from cooking once it’s reached the desired temperature.
In a large sauce pan (the caramel bubbles up so make sure the pot is much larger than the quantity of the ingredients) heat the cream and salt to a simmer. Once small bubbles appear stir in the honey and ground cardamom. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer. Stir occasionally to avoid scorching on the sides or bottoms of the pan.
Continue to cook until the temperature reaches 255-260*F. If not cooked enough the caramel will be too soft and run off the fruit. If cooked too long the caramel will be difficult to chew.
*Tips for Success*
After making these several times now I’ve learned a few things that I want to reiterate so you will have success.
– Boil caramel until it reaches 260*. This will produce a firmer caramel that will better adhere to the apples or pears.
– Use firm pears. If they are too ripe the stick will slide right out.
– Wait to dip the fruit until the caramel is nearly cool. It will be quite thick and sticky but it helps to prevent the caramel from sliding right off.
– Use fruit that is not waxed.
– Chill the fruit before dipping. This sets the caramel immediately. You could also dip then refrigerate.
– Let the excess caramel drip off for at least one minute before dipping into the nuts.
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Honey Cardamom Caramel for apples or pears
enough for 8-10 small/medium apples or pears.
Choose apples/pears that are unwaxed as that will help the caramel to adhere.
1 ½ cups heavy cream
1 ½ cups + 1 tablespoon mild honey, such as clover
¾ teaspoon salt, kosher
3 cardamom pods, cracked and seeds ground or ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
1 cup toasted, roughly ground hazelnuts