(The lack of pictures is due to the fact that we ate everything.)
It’s apple season. After the tired, limp apples of summer, an apple with firm, pale green flesh that snaps back when you bite is actually kind of magical. The only way it could possibly be better is…if you drizzled caramel on top. I ended up with not one, but three types of caramel to try on my ruben, honeycrisp, and granny smith apples:
- Trader Joe’s fleur de sel caramel. A classic buttery, mild, well-balanced caramel with a nice rounded toffee flavor.
- Filipino matamis na bao. Coconut milk and sugar cooked until the sugar browned into a coconutty, deeply flavored brown syrup that reminds me a little of honey. Vegan if you’re not fussy about the sugar. I first read about it on the MuLondon blog and kind of maybe got a little obsessed about finding it.
- Homemade vegan caramel (Full recipe to follow). A nice cognac amber in color, taste reminiscent of the browned sugar part on creme brulee and toasted marshmallows, but less heavy than the true caramel.
Recipe for homemade vegan caramel, adapted from Smiling Green Mom:
1 c white granulated sugar
1/4 c (scant) water
1/8 c light agave syrup
1/4 c almond or other non-dairy milk
1 1/2 TB (roughly) margarine
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1. Heat sugar, agave, and water to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir vigorously at first to dissolve the sugar; after dissolved, swirl mixture around pan occasionally to ensure even cooking.
2. Turn heat down to lowest setting and cook, swirling every now and then, until mixture turns a deep amber-brown. My stove is older than I am, and the low setting is apparently very, very low, so it took about 30 minutes. Just as well; most of the liquid evaporated, and I ended up with a nice syrupy consistency.
3. Remove from heat and carefully (mixture will bubble like crazy) stir in milk, vanilla, salt, and margarine. Allow to cool and thicken.
Kevin and I tried each over sliced apples, rather than dipping, so I’m not sure how well any of them would stick to an apple. You might need to coat them with chocolate after dipping to keep everything in place.
My favorite over the apples was still the true caramel. The smooth, creamy flavor offered the nicest contrast to the tart, crisp apples. However, Kevin, who is not a fan of toffee, preferred the lighter taste of my homemade vegan caramel. The matamis na bao, we both thought, was a bit too assertively coconutty for the apple.