First Kiss

For me, fall, apples, and first kisses, are synonymous with each other. I remember as a little girl, coming home one perfect fall afternoon from tromping around in the woods super hungry. I had been busy making a leaf house out of mounds of fallen leaves with my favorite neighborhood friend, Peter. We ran back to my house to get a snack. I left Peter on the front steps and went in to quickly grab some apples that my dad had just bought. When I walked into the kitchen, my mother had most of the apples on the kitchen table. They were sitting on this white paper that I had never seen before. Next to the apples, sat a big pile of dinner forks. She was stirring some huge pot of sticky brown stuff.  I figured we were going to have apples for supper or my mother was experimenting again. I quickly asked my mom for a snack so I could get back to my leaf house. She told me to wait for one minute and I could have the best snack ever.

As promised, one minute later, my mother presented me with two big apples dripping with warm homemade caramel. The only stipulation she had was that I bring back the forks she had used to stab the apples with for a handle. Elated, Peter and I ran back to the woods. We stood looking at each other as if we had won the lottery. With such a wonderful prize as a caramel apple we decide we better climb up a tree and eat them, lest my sister or Peter’s brothers came along and asked for a bite.

Peter and I sat up on a high limb of a tree eating our caramel apples. We had caramel all over our faces and sticky apple juice running down wrists and into our shirtsleeves. Out of the blue Peter asked me if he could give me a kiss. I was surprised, but figured it was because I gave him a caramel apple, so I said yes. He leaned over and gave me a big sticky kiss on the cheek (only because I was a chicken and turned my head at the last second). We finished our caramel apples and I took the forks back to my mother.

When I came in the house and my mother saw my face she told me to go and wash up. In the bathroom, I looked in the mirror. I had caramel on my nose, chin, and from the kiss spot on my cheek. I washed all the caramel off except for the kiss spot. I proudly wore my caramel kiss for the rest of the night despite protests from my mother to wash the caramel off my face—if she had only known it was a kiss!

Every fall I remember that day. Caramel apples still have a special spot in my heart. As for Peter, we continued to build woodland forts, climb trees and explore the woods until we grew up and went our separate ways, but I never forgot my first caramel apple kiss.

Share a caramel apple with someone—who knows, maybe you’ll get a kiss?

Caramel Apples

8 tart apples

8 wooden sticks

1 cup, plus 1 tablespoons heavy whipping cream, divided

¾ cup corn syrup

½ cup butter

1 cup white sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

¼ teaspoon salt

Directions:

Lay a piece of parchment paper on a heatproof counter or cookie sheet and coat with cooking spray, set aside. Wash apples and insert sticks where the stem is and set on parchment.

In a large saucepan with a candy thermometer, over medium heat, stir ½ cup of the cream, corn syrup, sugar, butter, and salt, until melted and bubbling. Stop stirring, let caramel reach about 235 degrees then add the rest of the cream. Only stir a couple of times and slowly bring the temperature up to 245 degrees. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Carefully stir in the vanilla it may splatter. Cool until thick enough to coat the apples, but the caramel is still hot. Dip each apple and place on parchment to cool.

Lisa Erickson is a food columnist who loves adventures and food. You can find more recipes on line at http://www.wild-chow.com or email her at wildchowrecipes@gmail.com

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