Caramel Apples and Corn Dogs


The Arizona State Fair goes until November 6th. If I lived in Arizona, this little foray into food on a stick territory would be fairly timely. I don’t though, so I am either behind the game or way the heck ahead of the game on this one. Experience would tell us it’s probably the former.
A couple of weekends ago the weather in our neck of the woods turned beautiful and I had a nagging urge to eat outside and celebrate the fact that fall was finally here. One might think a hot steaming stew or chili would fit the season, or maybe something off the outdoor grill would be good. But no, I thought something deep-fried and on a stick, followed by something ridiculously sweet and difficult to chew – but also on a stick, would be the most fitting option.
Why fall makes me crave corn dogs I never understood – that is until I came across this recipe at www.thepioneerwoman.com. Now I know – corn dogs remind me of the Fair (a fall event in my home state), and so do caramel apples. This was one experimental night of cooking I knew the family would whole-heartedly support.
To top it all off, we discovered something else totally awesome. If you drizzle the leftover corn dog breading batter into the hot oil? Guess what happens. Yup. Funnel Cake. Could the extravaganza get ANY better???
Oh – and on a side note – if you make the apples, don’t go all hero and try to be ultra-efficient by lining the baking sheet with buttered wax paper thinking it would make for easier clean-up. It doesn’t work – And your kids will end up eating wax paper for the first time in their lives. . . .I hope it’s the first time anyway!

Recipe:

Caramel Apples

14-16 small tart apples
1 Cup Butter
1 16 oz.. package (2 1/2 Cups) packed brown sugar
1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1 Cup light-colored corn syrup
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1 Cup chopped peanuts (optional)

1. Wash and dry apples, remove stems. Insert a wooden skewer into the stem end of each apple. Place apples on a buttered baking sheet. (see side note above)
2. In a heavy 3-quart saucepan melt butter over low heat. Add brown sugar, sweetened condensed milk, and corn syrup; mix well. Cook and stir over medium-high heat till mixture boils. Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan. Reduce heat to medium; continue boiling at a moderate, steady rate, stirring frequently till the thermometer registers 248F, firm-ball stage (about 15-20 mins). (If you don’t have a candy thermometer, you can check that stage of your candy using this cold water test).
3. Remove saucepan from heat; working quickly, dip each apple into hot caramel mixture, turn to coat. If desired, dip bottoms of apples into peanuts. Set on prepared baking sheet; chill, if desired, for up to 2 days. Makes 14-16 caramel apples.

Source:: The Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook Eleventh Edition, 1996

These corn dogs were super easy. Who woulda’ thought? I love that you can choose your favorite “dog” to go inside so you don’t have to eat the mystery meat of frozen corn dogs. The crust came out light and crunchy, bubbly and misshapen, in a delightful and delicious way. I didn’t have enough chopsticks to use as sticks, so I used kabob skewers instead and clipped them to size.

Recipe:

Corn Dogs ( pretty much verbatim from The Pioneer Woman)

6 cups Krusteaz Pancake Mix
2 cups Yellow Corn Meal
2 whole Eggs, Slightly Beaten
6 cups Water, More If Needed To Thin Batter
Hot Dogs
[sticks, skewers, or] chopsticks
Canola Oil, For Frying
Spicy Mustard, For Serving

**USE CAUTION WHEN FRYING WITH OIL. KEEP POT ON THE BACK BURNER TO PROTECT SMALL KIDDOS**
In a large bowl, combine pancake mix and cornmeal. Stir to combine. Add eggs and water, adding more water as needed for the batter to become slightly thick (but not overly gloopy.) Start out by adding 4 cups, then work your way up to 6 cups or more.
Heat canola oil over medium-high heat. Drop in a bit of batter to see if it’s ready: the batter should immediately start to sizzle but should not immediately brown/burn.
Insert sticks into hot dogs so that they’re 2/3 of the way through. Do the same with the cheese sticks.
Dip the hot dogs into the batter and allow excess to drip off for a couple of seconds. Carefully drop into the oil (stick and all) and use tongs or a spoon to make sure it doesn’t hit the bottom of the pan and stick. Flip it here and there to ensure even browning, and remove it from the oil when the outside is deep golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Source: The Pioneer Woman

The Pioneer Woman does a great job through a photo tutorial showing what the thickness of the batter should be – if you’re hesitant, check her post out.

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