I LOVE fall…no contest, it is my absolute favorite season. I love the colors…the smells…everything! And today was the first day that really felt like fall: cool, crisp, and just a little breezy which really put me in the mood for some baking. First up was a pumpkin spice bread with a cinnamon sugar swirl and a cinnamon glaze. It’s not a super sweet bread but the swirl and glaze add just enough sweetness. It smells wonderful when it’s baking and has a nice strong pumpkin flavor.
- 1 cup flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, divided
- 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 4 tbs unsalted butter, softened
- 2 eggs
- 1 15 oz can of pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
- 1/3 cup sour cream
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2-1 tbs cream or half and half
Preheat oven to 350F. In a small bowl mix together 1/3 cup granulated sugar and 1 tsp of cinnamon and reserve for the swirl. In another bowl sift together flour, baking soda, salt and 1 tsp cinnamon and set aside. Cream brown sugar and butter in stand mixer with the paddle attachment until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Add the pumpkin, sour cream, and vanilla and mix until well blended.
Add the dry ingredients until just combined. Don’t overmix. Spoon half the batter into a greased 9×5 loaf pan. The batter will be very thick. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mix over the batter being careful to cover the batter completely. Add the remaining batter and spread evenly. I had a little extra cinnamon sugar that I sprinkled on the top of the batter. Bake for 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Cool in pan for 10 minutes and then remove from pan and cool completely on a rack. Meanwhile, in a small bowl stir together the powdered sugar, cream, and remaining 1/2 tsp of cinnamon. Add more cream if needed. Drizzle over warm pumpkin bread then allow the bread to cool completely before slicing.
I have a yearly tradition of making loaded caramel apples after a trip to the local orchard. I didn’t have a chance to make them with the honeycrisp apples I bought last month but I picked some nittanys from Marker-Miller Farm Market this weekend and they were perfect! Over the years I’ve combined several different recipes to create my favorite:
- 1/2 cup unsalted sweet butter (1 stick)
- 2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
- 1 cup light corn syrup
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 8-10 tart and crisp apples, washed and dried
- 2 cups toffee bits
- 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate, melted
- 1 cup white chocolate, melted
Make sure the apples are at room temperature before starting otherwise they’ll “sweat” as they come up to temperature and the water droplets will mess with the caramel. Before you begin prep a cookie sheet by lining it with non-stick foil or greased parchment paper. Insert popsicle sticks into the apples being careful not to puncture all the way through the apple.
Attach a candy thermometer to the inside of a 2-quart saucepan. Melt butter in the saucepan then add brown sugar, corn syrup and salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture comes to a boil. Carefully stir in sweetened condensed milk. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until candy thermometer reaches 248F which will take about 20 minutes. Remove from heat then stir in vanilla.
*If you prefer a softer caramel apple, pull the caramel off the heat when it reaches 236F. This will result in a caramel that is malleable when finished. At 248F the finished caramel will be much stickier and harder. It’s the ‘pull out your teeth’ kind of caramel…
Carefully dip each apple into the pot making sure the caramel covers the entire apple especially where the popsicle stick meets the apple as that will help “glue” the stick in and will also keep the apple from browning where the stick was inserted. After dipping let the excess drip back into the pot before carefully placing it on the prepped cookie sheet. When all the apples are dipped place the cookie sheet in the fridge for 10 minutes to help the caramel set and harden. If you do a lot of stirring while the caramel is cooking your apples might end up with little bubble spots (like those in the photo below). It’s not a problem, it just means you mixed a lot of air into the caramel and ended up with bubbles.
If you have any leftover caramel you can pour it in a thin layer onto a cookie sheet lined with a piece of greased parchment paper. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous you can sprinkle the hot caramel with all sorts of things…fancy sea salt, crumbled cooked bacon, chocolate chips, nuts, etc. Stick the cookie sheet in the fridge and let it cool and harden. Once it’s set you can cut the caramel into smaller pieces with a greased knife and wrap the individual pieces in wax paper for caramel candy!
The caramel is ready for the next step when you touch the side of the apple and your finger doesn’t leave a fingerprint in the caramel. When the apples are ready, melt the semi-sweet chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Spread the melted chocolate around the apple then roll in toffee bits. Put the apples back in the fridge until the chocolate sets (about 15 minutes).
Finally melt the while chocolate and drizzle it over the apples. Let them set completely in the fridge (about 30 minutes). Once the chocolate has hardened, store the apples in a ziploc bag or plastic container. If the caramel completely covers the apple they’ll last at least a week in the fridge. To serve (and protect your teeth) cut the apple into wedges and try not to devour the entire thing!