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caramel apple sundaes and a trip to sweetland orchard

October 4, 2012

The granny smith caramel apple sundae in the Food Building at the Minnesota State Fair is the first fair-food I developed a deep and abiding love for. There have been others over the years, but that apple sundae will always hold a special place in my heart for being first. As a kid, I loved the traditional caramel apple. Nuts and caramel stuck to the outside of my favorite fruit on earth? Yes Please! But then… let’s just say there was this ‘playground altercation’ that rendered caramel apples, and the better part of both top front teeth, a thing of the past. (long story short, if you are a pair of 5th grade girls who run fast, it’s perhaps not a good idea to put that talent to use at recess by running through the boys basketball/football/dodgeball games and stealing the ball. Or, if you do, be sure and be the one who sees the angry kid coming before he face-plants you into the blacktop.)

Enter the deconstructed caramel apple sundae. Every bit as good as the original, but with less trauma for the dentalwork. After our workshop with the boys from Brooklyn’s Baked bakery a few falls back, we’ve been obsessed with their Sweet & Salty Brownies. It occurred to me as we were tromping through the gorgeous Sweetland Orchard* two Saturdays ago that their caramel would be perfect for the deconstructed caramel apple sundae. (bonus points for off-setting its naughtiness by drizzling it over apples instead of baking into the sinful sweet & salty brownies, right? right?!). As a bonus, we scored a few of the delightfully crisp Northern Spy Apples to test drive the caramel on.

Clockwise from top: Picking our own at Sweetland Orchard, The amazing Northern Spy apple, Caramel Apple Sundae, making the caramel

WOW! We’ll be doing that again and again. (I prefer a fairly tart apple to offset the sweetness of the caramel, but I’m guessing whatever apple is your fav would work just as well)


(adapted from Baked Explorations)

  • 1 C sugar
  • 1/4 C water
  • 2 TBSP light corn syrup
  • 1/2 C heavy cream
  • 1 tsp fleur de sel (see note)
  • 1/4 C sour cream

In a medium pan, combine the sugar, water and corn syrup. Stir together carefully (don’t splash the sides of the pan).  Cook over high heat, until it turns a dark amber in color (watch it carefully. When it starts to change color, it goes from blonde, to light amber to dark amber to burnt quickly). Remove from the heat and slowly whisk in the cream (it will bubble up).  Then add the fleur de sel.  Whisk in the sour cream.  Set aside to cool.

Note on the fleur de sel: We didn’t have any this time, so I used Hawaiian alaea salt instead. It worked just as well.

Note on caramel making: We’ve both made this solo, which works just fine. It was, however, much easier to simultaneously stir the corn syrup mixture and pour the cream with an extra set of hands.

* A Word about Sweetland Orchard

Sadly, apple season at Sweetland is nearly over. Mother Nature was a particularly harsh mistress last spring. Apple blossoms don’t take kindly to being coaxed into blooming in way early spring only to be hit by a punishing frost. Apples blossoms and frost so do not play well together. As a result, Mike and Gretchen have become poster kids of sorts for what happens when weather takes out 90% of your crop before the season even really begins. (a quick visit to their website’s As Seen Around Town page is filled with great and media about the amazing cider donuts & etc about the apples, but also highlights appearances due to the 2012 Spring Freeze) I’m not sure I’d be able to present such a zen face to the world if I was in their shoes. If you are within driving distance and looking for something fun to do this Saturday night, consider showing your support at the Big Orchard Shindig. A bunch of amazing Twin Cities food folks have banded together to put on what looks to be an fun-tastic fall evening as a benefit for the Orchard.

One Comment leave one →
  1. October 6, 2012 12:11 pm

    Excellent recipe. I like the salty sweet thing you have going on there. Are you going to the Big Orchard Shindig? Would love to see a post about it. It would be cool to go and blog about it but doesn’t work my schedule.

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