Fall season is here and with it, all the flavors and colors we enjoy during the cooler weather. My wife and I usually head to an apple orchard near the Wisconsin border during this season and celebrate with the first hot apple cider and apple doughnut to mark the beginning of autumn.
This year when we traveled to the orchard, we grabbed a bushel basket and rode out on the tractor to handpick our own apples, which I highly recommend. You get the apple fresh off the tree and they just taste better, apple juice running down your chin, standing among all the trees in the orchard.
As we walked through the country store at the orchard, I saw, as in past years, that they were selling fresh-dipped caramel apples on a stick.
You know the kind, with the sticky, gooey caramel coating the outside and rolled in the chopped, toasted peanuts. Every bite is just great, sticky caramel goodness and this year I wanted to re-imagine those same flavors on the grill at home.
The best apples for baking aren't the ones you would typically expect- an apple that is crisp and tangy when raw changes to almost applesauce when it hits the grill. Some others start out already soft, and just go softer from there when baked.
What's needed is an apple that retains is texture when baked and still has a good sweetness. After much trial, I found that the Gala apple is the clear winner for this. You can also use Honey Crisp or Fuji, but stay away from red delicious or granny smith, too mushy.
Once I found the proper baking fruit, the rest came together on the grill. An "inside out" roasted caramel apple!
Caramel Apple "Inside Out"
Recipe by Matt Jost, Weber Grill Restaurant Chef
Prep time: 15 minutes
Grilling time: 15-20 minutes
Special equipment: melon ball scoop, or small grapefruit spoon, scissors, 6 plain toothpicks
½ cup good bourbon
4 each Gala Apples (can substitute Jonah Gold, Fuji or Honey crisp – can also be substituted with pears for similar results)
12 pc caramel squares
½ cup brown sugar, dark
4 scoops good vanilla ice cream
½ cup peanuts, toasted and chopped
caramel sauce, if desired
2 sheets cedar paper wraps (8” x 8”)
4 pc kitchen string (cut 10” length)
4 squares heavy duty foil (cut 4” x 4” square)
Cut the cedar paper into strips about 2” x 8” wide (you will need 2 cedar strips for each apple), basically cut each paper into 4 equal strips (for a total of 8 strips). Place all the cedar strips into a container that is just big enough to hold all of them and submerge in the bourbon. Soak the strips for at least 30 minutes.
While the cedar soaks, prepare the grill. Set up the grill for direct, medium heat 350-450 (similar to the set up for grilling burgers). Preheat the grill for at least 10 minutes before roasting the apples.
Cut about 1/2” off the top of each apple, set the tops aside.
Use the scoop to dig out the center of the apple, where the seeds and core is, but leave ½” of apple at the bottom (Very Important – do not cut open the bottom of the apple, or all the sauce will drain out).
Unwrap and place 3 caramels in the center of each pocket.
Top the center of each apple with 2 Tbsp of brown sugar on top of the caramels in a tight pile. Place the apple “hat” back on top and spear it to the rest of the apple with a toothpick.
Wrap two strips of soaked cedar paper around each apple, overlapping the cedar the entire center of the apple is covered with cedar paper. The top and bottom should be exposed.
Tie one piece of string around the center of each apple tightly to secure the cedar paper to the apple.
Lightly spray one side of the foil square and place the apple on top. If the apple is tilted to one side severely, trim a little of the bottom off to make it sit upright and flat. Crimp the edges of the foil around the apple. Repeat until all the apples have been cored, stuffed and trimmed.
Place the apples in the center of the pre-heated grill and close the lid. Roast for at least 10 minutes on medium heat.
After 10 minutes, check the apple for tenderness with a second toothpick. If it goes in easily, the apples is ready. If still tough, close the lid, roast another 5 minutes and check again.
After the apples have roasted, remove from the grill and peel off the foil bottom. Snip the string with scissors and unroll the cedar paper. Use for decoration, if desired.
Top with ice cream while still hot and some chopped peanuts. Drizzle some more caramel sauce, if desired.