Saturday, October 29, 2011

Caramel Apples

Caramel apples are something I enjoy at fairs and halloween.  I've made them for our youth group for as long as I've done youth ministry.  I used to make them each year for Campbell's hockey team too.  Every kid and youth liked getting one of these sticky staples.  This year, our youth group was meeting the Brantford youth group from the Church of the Nazarene at the Hanes Corn Maze in Dundas to conquer the 12 acres of 10 feet tall stalks.

When I tell someone I am going to do something, I try my utmost to do it and do it well.  So, when I told myself that I was going to make caramel apples for the two youth groups for last night, I wanted to keep my word.  I had mentioned to their youth leader that I was going to bring a treat for each of the youth, but she didn't know what it was.  I could have brought bags of chips and she'd have not known anything different.  But I knew.

I had a package of the cooked caramel covering but knew I'd need a couple more packages to do enough apples for both youth groups.  Stacey & I searched for the stuff you cooked on the stove with milk but I couldn't find any.  We ended up settling for this other stuff that you heated in the oven and just wrapped around an apple.  It was the same brand as the cooked stuff, just a different form so I figured it would be good.  When we were checking through the grocery store, the clerk looked at it and said how good caramel apples were.  Then she made a comment that kind of surprised me.  She said that using the wrap kind of caramel was "cheating"!  Hey lady, I couldn't find the cooked stuff and your store only carried the cheating kind.  She annoyed me.  So I took my cheater wraps home with my three bags of apples.  Did I mention that each package of the cheater wraps is $2.99 and only has five wraps in it?  Mhm... that's right.  Did I also mention that I needed at least 32 caramel apples for the two youth groups?  Well, I did.  Do the math... that's over $21 in just "cheater" caramel wraps.  The cooked stuff was easy 1/3 that price, but I had to keep my word. (To myself, that is.)

This statement proved to be false!
When I got home, Vince found one microwave one that someone had given us and I used it.  It was a chocolate caramel.  Easy-peasy.  Just microwave for two minutes and swirl the apple in it and set it on a greased piece of wax or parchment paper.  It made seven covered apples.  I read the directions on the "cheater" wraps - soften the wrap at 200 degrees and wrap.  The first five wraps went well - sort of.  The directions said to stretch the caramel over the apple.  I missed that part of the directions.  I just placed the wrap on the apple but it only covered half the apple!  I reread the instructions and saw my faux pas.  I did better on the next four apples.  And that's where it all went wrong.  There's a reason why they only package five wraps.  The sixth wrap was softened and peeled off the paper just fine but that's where the ease of making these "cheater" caramel wraps ended.  The caramel stuck to my fingers like it was crazy glue!  I ended up rolling the flat wrap into a ball and putting it back in the oven to reshape with my rolling pin.  And that's what I did for the next twenty six caramel apples.  Heat, peel, try to apply and roll back in a ball to reheat.  Repeat.

One mud puddle too many!
Two and a half hours later, the thirty two wraps were ready to serve!  We did the challenge in the maze with the Brantford youth.  However, there were a few minor mishaps.  Several of the youth slipped in the mud along the way as they raced to find the clues that were in the challenge map.  My group of youth seemed to find the part of the maze that went in circles.  Out of the seventeen clues, we only found nine.  At one point one girl from my group said, "We keep going in circles."  We acknowledged that problem as her sister piped up and said, "One bad circle and we're traumatized."  We just laughed and tried to find our way in the flashlight lit path.  After two hours or so, circling the twelve acre field, we headed back to the vans for the yummy treats.  Squeals of childhood excitement were heard as each youth filed past to pick up their caramel apple.  It was worth the struggle of the cheater wraps in the end, but next year, I'm going to look earlier for the cooked stuff!  Oh, wait!  I still need to make some for those six trick or treaters that might come to my door on Halloween!!!  :)  After all, I told myself I was going to do it.

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