caramel apples and pumpkin carving

this weekend was my sil's annual pumpkin carving party. we look forward to it every year and the competition has become quite fierce.

this year i wanted to bring caramel apples. i didn't want to just melt kraft caramels - i wanted to make my own caramel. there are only a few ingredients (and wow are the ingredients not for the faint of heart) so i figured how hard could it be. plus i had a candy thermometer sitting in my drawer for years just waiting to be used for something like this. so if you are interested in trying this follow these simple steps.............

step 1:
brave the rain and make a special trip to your local-ish farmers market to buy the sweetest - most delicious apples you could find.

step 2:
find the cutest kid you can find to help cut the twigs for the stems.
luckily i found this 6 year old looking for work.

step 3:
dump 3 different kinds of sugar and some cream into a pot. clip your candy thermometer to the side of the pot. if you notice i don't have my candy thermometer clipped to the side of the pot. that is because when i pulled it out (after years of having it in my drawer) it was broken!!!!! so i quickly googled "how to make caramel without a candy thermometer" (this is why everyone should have a computer in the kitchen) and set about trying to make caramel the old fashioned way.

step 4:

set your heat to medium high and wait until your caramel reaches around 270 degrees. here is where there was some confusion. 270 degrees is hard ball stage yet caramel is supposed to be in the firm ball stage........so basically i had to wing it and decide that when the caramel looked like this - it was done...........

step 5:

once you have caramel (or in my case *think* you have caramel) gather some really bad for you items to roll your apples in......

and get your little helper to start dipping.

step 6:

cleverly arrange your apples on a bed of leaves and pat yourself on the back for just how darn good they look!

BUT how did they taste????

its hard to say - mainly b/c the caramel had hardened so much that it was impossible to take a bite out of the apple. they had to be thrown into the microwave just to soften the caramel enough to cut the apple! but - i do know that once you stuck that piece of caramel into your mouth - where it softened into the gooey caramel it was supposed to be - it was good........

moral of the story? make sure you have a candy thermometer

then it was on to pumpkin carving............pumpkins were everywhere, seeds and strings were everywhere...and there was plenty of trash talk. where were the kids? they haven't developed the level of competiton the adults have - so they made themselves scarce......

here is my pumpkin. believe me it looks better in the picture then it did in real life. i combined 2 ideas without thinking it through and wish i would have made the windows more intricate b/c as it stands they were just 2 big holes show casing a too small vulture.

here are the other ones. the winner was the mummy on the bottom row - last one. this year was the first time we had a really hard time choosing a winner. we have already begun planning our pumpkin entries for next year.

it was such a great time shared with family and friends. this year we added another family and they brought a friend who will be going to college next year. she said she is coming again next year. i don't blame her.

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