Little Ladies dipped in Peanut Butter Caramel – #Applelove

October 6, 2011 at 8:48 am | Posted in Appetizers, Candy, Dessert, Fruit, Gluten Free | 36 Comments
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One of my first childhood ‘cooking’ memories, by myself, is one I remember as if it happened yesterday.  It’s crystal clear, every detail engraved in my vault like the inscription on the bracelet given to me by my first puppy love…

‘I will love you forever – R’ 

Hmmm.guess that means he still loves me, huh? ;D

I was about 4 or 5, and my Mother was resting in bed with a cold.  I was watching a PBS show called Zoom (0000 – 2-1-3-4 – send it to Zoom!), and they had a little cooking segment which I always looked forward to.  I’m not sure they actually ever cooked anything, but it was food preparation, which was new and exciting to me.  How to spread peanut butter on apples!  With a plastic knife, of course.

I went into the kitchen, grabbed the peanut butter, a plastic knife from a bag in the drawer, a few apples. and pulled a chair (or stool, the one detail that’s a bit fuzzy) to the counter, climbed up and proceeded to ‘host’ my own cooking show, teaching my imaginary audience how to spread peanut butter on sliced apples.

Recreating my first cooking show and the mess.

After about 30 minutes – apple pieces strewn all over the floor, smears of peanut butter all over me, the counter and cupboards, my Mother, obviously hearing me talk to myself in a loud, cheery, voice for a longer period of time than usual… decided to investigate.  She screamed, she freaked.

OMG. look at this mess!  What did you doooo!?!  Wait until your father gets home!!  I’m going to leave this mess for him to see!”

A whack on the butt, then sent to my room (isn’t that called child abuse nowadays?).

Regardless of the outcome, it was a moment of discovery, and a fond memory that always sneaks it’s way into my answer when asked about how and when I got into cooking, baking, fancy shmancy desserts, etc.

So now it’s Fall, Halloween approaching – and most markets have these boxes filled with the cutest, green apples with a blush of red. They’re about 2-inches in diameter, and have been calling to me every time I walk by.  I finally couldn’t resist and bagged a dozen of these little Lady apples (not to be confused with Pink Lady apples).  I knew exactly what I wanted to do with them.  Miniature caramel apples.  It’s been ages since I’ve had a caramel dipped apple, and since these apple are so small, the amount of caramel consumed would be minute and easy on the toothies.  BUT WAIT..just plain old caramel?  Uh uh…I needed to revisit my first cooking show.  There was definitely going to be peanut butter involved, and no one was sending me to my room this time.

To show you how small Lady apples are, I placed one next to a medium Fuji apple.

When I got home, I saw I was out of peanut butter.  I cursed myself silently while checking the mail – then noticed a package on the doorstep.  When I opened it – I couldn’t believe my eyes or luck, two jars Planter’s peanut butter.  Divine intervention?  Well, not really, more like perfect timing.  I had opted in to receive these jars from Planters via the Foodbuzz Tastemaker’s Program and the National Peanut Board, about a week or less before (you all know what a peanut butter freak I am).  Things like this don’t normally happen to me – I’m sort of the living, breathing, walking, talking epitome of Murphy’s Law.  I’d love nothing more than to abdicate that throne, and this was certainly a good start!

Upon researching the lady apple, I saw I wasn’t the first to think of dipping these little mama’s.  Martha – of course, had dipped the ladies years before, as well as Peggy Cullem – but did they dip them in a peanut butter caramel?  I think not.  Then I realized I didn’t have any candy apple or popsicle sticks on hand.  Once again, things went my way.  I recalled Martha using tree twigs as sticks.  Always loved that idea and in fact, she used them to dip her lady apples, as did Peggy Cullem.  OK, so outside of the peanut butter in the caramel, no real originality, but who cares?  These were going to be so cute and so well received.  Perfect little 3 or 4 biters  of tart, sweet, healthy apple with barely enough caramel to even come close to ruining your diet or teeth (unless you eat more than two of these in one sitting – which I did, of course).  They’re also perfect little Halloween party favors, or a great trick-or-treat goodie or sweet snack for the kids that won’t result in them swinging from the chandelier with an embossed invitation to the cavity creeps.

I used the caramel recipe from my passion fruit filled bonbons, futzed with the amount of ingredients a bit and added peanut butter and vanilla – but this time I used Peggy Cullem’s method for making the caramel.  It worked.  Roll these cutie-pie, dipped apples in chopped peanuts, sprinkles, candy – or anything you like outside of nuts and bolts (unless you really dislike the recipient).  If you’d like, dip the lower half of each apple in melted chocolate once the caramel sets, or just drizzle with chocolate.  They’re also beautiful simply dipped in the peanut butter caramel, with no extra decor aka calories – it’s entirely up to you!

Peanut Butter – Caramel Dipped Lady Apples
Twig idea from Martha Stewart, Caramel method from Peggy Cullem

1 dozen Lady apples (or the smallest apples you can find)
12 twigs or popsicle sticks.
1 cup granulated white sugar, divided
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup light corn syrup
2 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup hot heavy cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup Planter’s Peanut Butter

1.  Thoroughly wash and dry apples and twigs.  Stick twigs into apples and set aside on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bring heavy cream to a boil and set aside.

2. Place 1/2 cup of the sugar and water in a medium saucepan. Set over medium-high heat and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook until light amber in color, about 5-7 minutes. Use a pastry brush, dipped in water, to wash down sides of pan to prevent crystallization as the mixture boils.

3. Remove saucepan from the heat and gradually whisk in the remaining half cup of sugar, corn syrup,, hot heavy cream, salt and butter (STAND will bubble and gurgle like crazy, you could burn yourself!).  Return to the heat and insert a candy thermometer.  Cook until the thermometer registers 248 Fahrenheit – about 6 to 7 minutes.  Stir in the vanilla extract and the peanut butter.

4. Working quickly, dip the lady apples into the caramel, letting any excess drip back into the pan. Set the apples on the prepared baking sheet (roll in toppings immediately after dipping, if using). If the caramel becomes too thick, gently rewarm it over low heat. Let the caramel apples cool for 1 hour before serving.


October is #applelove month!

Please join in on the #applelove fun by linking up *any apple recipe* from the *month of October 2011.* Don’t forget to link back to this post, so that your readers know to come stop by the #applelove event. The twitter hashtag is #applelove.

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  1. Oh wow these are so adorable! I’m starting to plan all my Halloween baking/cooking now and these look absolutely perfect. Love the peanut butter twist too…that’s my kind of toffee apple!

  2. They look fabulous! Do you know that I never had one of those… It is time to remedy to that sad situation!



  3. Caramel is one thing… but peanut butter caramel? That sounds amazing! And the twigs are adorable!

  4. I was just thinking about toffee apples. I think your PB twist is brilliant. I love a bit of salty sweet!

    • Thanks, Suz. I love when they’re called toffee apples for some reason. Sounds tastier than caramel lol

  5. What a fun #applelove post!

  6. Looks delicious. Curious as to the peanut butter and caramel flavor.. haven’t had a candied apple in a long time usually to hard on the teeth. Certainly putting me in the Halloween mood. Nice photos too!

  7. Gosh you have the craziest true stories. It is surprising you ever returned to the kitchen after such a traumatic experience 😉 But so glad you did, I love the fact that these apples are smaller so you get the caramel (and PB) experience without getting sick of it half way. So cute placed on leaves

  8. What a cute treat.

  9. caramel apples….chicago’s fall favorite for sure! love the photos!

  10. Cuties. I’ll be looking for an apple recipe. That shouldn’t be a hard task.

  11. These are so cute! I love that they’re the perfect snack size apples, and that they have peanut butter mixed in! I’m a bit of a “peanut butter freak” too:) Love them, Lisa! Have a great weekend!

  12. Such a fun idea! Using little apples so you get more caramel per bit is brillant.

  13. Oh, those look so fun!! I love the sticks, haha.

  14. O those looks so very good! I can so picture you sitting in that room with peanutbutter and apple all around Wouldn’t any mom freak out at that thought? But you’ve certainly made up for that with these peanut butter caramel gorgeous apples. I’ve not seen little ladies, I know we have pink ladies but not sure if we can get these small apples here. But it would work with a bigger apple anyway, so that’ll be good! Love it!

  15. Love your first TV show! 😉 What a precious childhood memory!

    These apples are so tempting. Gotta love these mini version in saving calories. Thanks for sharing.

  16. I nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award !

  17. Lisa, I love these little ladies! I just saw Paula Dean on some cover with some too and I thought I should have used sticks for mine but oh well. The sad part of your memory was your mom freaking out and you remembering it, I cringed when I read that part (a little to close to home). I freaked out many times with my daughter without thinking and that’s probably why she hates cooking, Oh if I could re-do her younger years and my reactions I would. But I’ve learned since and I am a pretty good teenage parent so hopefully it helps cancel out some of those bad memories. I used to be so incredibly up tight, pluck me with a string up tight, age and meds. help with that tho. I sure wish I could come over and enjoy some of those apples with you I love pb spread on apples so I know with the caramel I would be in heaven!! Love ya girl, sorry I haven’t been there to talk to lately.

  18. […] Check out the other blogs in a blog hop hash tag #applelove on twitter Parsley Sage, Desserts and Line Drives […]

  19. These are so cute! Love the photos!

  20. I may be part of minority, preferring caramel over chocolate! But I do not mind them collaborating, LOL ;-).

  21. Ha! Great minds think alike as today I am making an #applelove dessert with my caramel! But oh how I loved caramel apples when I was a kid! Now, not to diss peanut butter, which I so adore, but as soon as you mentioned drizzling chocolate over the caramel apples, well, that’s for me!!! And I love your story of your tv cooking show! And the mess! Ha ha ha you still make a mess when you cook, don’t you? Or the cooking gods come and give you a smack on the tushy, get you in trouble and send you to your room. But no matter the klutz… every single thing you bake is fabulous!!!

  22. Am I very late? Are there any left over for me? These look absolutely stunning lisa!

  23. These are so gorgeous!! I love the sticks. Beautiful photos. And peanut butter caramel?? Bestill my heart! Apples and peanut butter are my favorite snack!

  24. Very cute little treats. I love the addition of pb to the caramel. Maisie and I adore pb on apples and she would have so much fun with this…I see a Maisie cooking project in the works.

  25. These are darling. Love the peanut butter caramel. Wow.

  26. Oh my goodness these are just too cute!

  27. I love these! Definitely making them for Halloween! Thank you!

  28. Is there a lbig man version of these? I think you need to supersize these ;.>P

  29. Oooh, these are just absolutely adorable Lisa! Unfortunately we are at the last days of our apple season but I’m definitely bookmarking for next year 🙂

  30. Oh, how fabulous!!! Love the tiny apples and the twigs are such a wonderful touch (leave it to Martha!). And I also appreciate the higher caramel to apple ratio in these gems 🙂

  31. Oh, Zoom! I remember that show!! And they once made challah . . . Love the idea of adding in pb to caramel–that is something I must remember for the next time I add caramel to a dessert (esp. a caramel/chocolate dessert). The sticks add such an elegant touch.

  32. Gorgeous!! And love the divine intervention (from one PB lover to another 🙂

  33. I’m definitely making these for Halloween…the peanut butter IN the caramel is such a great idea!!

  34. […] ny excess drip back into the pan. Set the apples on the prepared baking sheet (r […]…

  35. […] peanut butter caramel apples. /* […]

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