I really wanted to make a fall flavored dessert to take to a friend’s house last night and caramel apples seemed like such a perfect choice. However I waited till 2 hours before we needed to be there to start making them which I can tell you is not enough time. I did not have ample time to make caramel from scratch and get it to the “firm ball stage” so that it would stick to the apples. Instead I accidentally made a really great caramel sauce. So what do you do with caramel sauce, a bunch of apples and some peanuts, well I channeled my mother and thought about what she would do. On several occasions she would be making a cake or some other dessert and it would fall apart so she would layer the pieces with cool whip, frosting, pudding, or some other random ingredients that she had. It wasn’t until I was over at my friend’s house as a teenager and saw her mom putting together a layered trifle dish on purpose that I realized it was even an intentional dessert.
Anyway, I decided to just layer in the sliced apples, caramel sauce and chopped peanuts in layers so that it would bake nicely. I was of course concerned that this dessert would not be great so I brought vanilla ice cream with it to make into sort of a sundae or like pie al a mode minus the pie crust just in case. Everyone seemed to really love this dessert, hence the reason I am including the recipe here. I do have to say though that Paul decided he would rather just eat the caramel sauce on its own so you may want to make extra to have on hand like I did. We ended up with about 2 cups of extra sauce that I am using for another reason to be posted shortly, if you do not want the extras for whatever reason than simply half the recipe for the sauce.
Melt the butter over medium heat then add all the remaining ingredients except for the vanilla. Heat on medium until it reaches a boil, make sure not to overly stir or it will crystallize but you do need to stir every few minutes to make sure that your sauce does not burn or stick to the bottom. Turn heat down to the lowest heat that will maintain a boil, for me that was a 4 but every range is different. Cook for 30 min, everything should be well combined, darkened in color, and thick. Any leftovers of the sauce will keep in your fridge for at least a week.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Thinly slice all the apples, place one third of the sliced apples in an even layer on the bottom of a greased casserole dish. Add 1/3 of a cup (or one third of caramel you designate for this dessert over the apples and sprinkle chopped peanuts on top of the caramel. Repeat the layers two more times then cover with foil and bake for 1 ½ hours or until the apples are cooked to your preferred doneness, serve warm with vanilla ice cream or on its own. If you are allergic to nuts or simply do not like them you can substitute any type of topping you would normally have on a caramel apple such as sprinkles or chocolate, we added toffee sprinkles with the peanuts for a little something special.
Much Love, Aislinn Emily