Have I mentioned that Fall is my favorite season? Truthfully my favorite season is September-December. Crisp air, fresh apples, colored leaves, bonfires, cozy sweatshirts, hot tea, spiced cider and hot chocolate meld into holiday baking, the smell of fresh pine, shopping for gifts and celebrating with the whole family. Seriously, I can’t think of anything I enjoy more. At the end of August my father-in-law brought me a box of early season apples and I decided to try making Crock-pot Apple Butter. Growing up in Amish Country I love apple butter but for some reason I’ve never made any myself.
I started printing and comparing recipes to get an idea for proportions. Right away I noticed that they are all pretty similar with just small differences. Christina from Dessert for Two used half sugar and half honey in her Slow Cooker Apple Butter and I like the idea of honey as a liquid instead of the apple cider, vinegar or water that I saw in others. I used white sugar this time but I will probably use brown next time. The apples I had were deliciously tart so the sweetness worked for me. If I make it with sweeter apples I would cut back on the sugar a little.
It may not be September until tomorrow but I’m embracing fall right now! Huzzah! My favorite time of the year has arrived. Today’s recipe is Homemade Caramel Dipping Sauce. Be sure you make a batch because you’ll need it for next week’s recipe as well. Caramel – delicious, creamy and often elusive, I am on a mission to learn everything there is to know about making it. I had made caramel twice before this week and I still have some in the fridge from those batches. One was made using the wet method and one with the dry. Both are lovely but the dry method definitely produces a darker caramel and some will find the bittersweet taste not to their liking.
I made four different batches of caramel last night, threw away two, and learned a lot. 1) Don’t stir if you’re using the wet method. Other places said it was fine to stir before it started boiling but mine splashed and crystallized on the sides. It tastes great but the texture is grainy which is not nice. 2) Dry method works but so far in my experience by the time it melts it’s fairly dark already. Not a problem if you like it that way. 3) There is no standard ratio for butter and cream. More research will be needed to decide for myself where I stand. For this recipe I used more cream and less butter for a thinner sauce that stays pour-able straight from the fridge.
When I was a kid we used to go berry picking every summer. Blueberries, black raspberries and red raspberries galore! Nothing says summer to me quite like freshly picked berries but unfortunately the shelf life of a berry isn’t that long. Enter freezer jam. My Mom made freezer jam with black and red raspberries every year in the summer and we would eat it all winter. The taste of fresh berries all year round! As an adult I haven’t found a good spot to pick our own berries. Luckily Kroger drops the price of red raspberries in the summer. I buy them up for smoothies, eating by the handful and of course, at least one batch of Red Raspberry Freezer Jam.
I’ve never been a fan of traditional jam plus freezer jam is easier and tastier. Every summer I stock the freezer with 10 or so jars of this Red Raspberry Freezer Jam so my family can enjoy the taste of summer all year long as well! I’ve cut back the sugar a little bit in this recipe because I think it tastes better when the sugar doesn’t overwhelm the fruit. This means it will be a little looser and less of a firm jello consistency. You can bump the sugar up by a cup (200g) if you prefer.