Hello, hello, hello!

It’s that time again . . . FOODIE PEN PALS TIME sponsored by The Lean Green Bean. But what does that mean exactly?? I send a box of edible goodies to a lovely pen pal, and a lovely pen pal sends one to me.  In the past it’s also meant I’ve embarked on my toughest challenges to date, duking it out against myself to win the Chopped Challenge. Twice I might add. Yeah, I’m awesome like that.

But what does it mean this month?? Sadly I will not be going up for round three just quite yet. The Pete is concerned that May’s competition and narrow win was a bit too harried and stressful and I need another month to unwind.  Also, my pen pal package was a little too good to be true, competitively speaking that is.

My pen pal Emily is a southern girl and sent me Creole seasoning, Wild Rice, Bayou Magic Cajun Jambalaya Mix and Caramel Apple Butter.  All perfectly coordinating ingredients.

So, this box seemed a little too easy. With the Jambalaya Mix the work has already been done for me and you don’t need to add more rice to a rice dish. The seasoning would be great on chicken and the caramel apple butter a nice sweet glaze in contrast to the spice. Easy. Too easy. So I decided to give myself a break this month and do something different instead.

May I present to you all . . . Foodie Pen Pals and the Copy Cat Challenge!

When I opened the box from Emily the thing I was most excited for was the Caramel Apple Butter. Apple Butter is a staple in the Midwest and, locally made from the Amish, it’s amazing! I even sent some to my Foodie Pen Pal last month Katie Fraga. So while I’ve had Apple Butter and a lot of it, I’ve never had Caramel Apple Butter. This begs the question that’s been causing me sleepless nights since last month’s awesome pen pal exchange . . . what happens if you love the local food you receive and can’t buy it anywhere?

Last month I was sent the best potato gnocchi I’ve ever had and a to die for cookie the size of my fist, neither of which is available here. What to do? Make a copy. Thus the Copy Cat Challenge was born!

To the interwebs! I googled “Caramel Apple Butter Recipe” and what do ya know, pages and pages of recipes loaded lickety split. Man, do I love the internet. You could probably google “Zucchini Apple Butter Recipe” or even “Tomato Apple Butter Recipe” and still find what you’re looking for. I tried it . . . they’re both out there.

Unfortunately the Caramel Apple Butter I received in the mail didn’t have an ingredients list and there are a lot of variables to consider here: type of apples, type of caramels, spices, quantities. The Husband is convinced this should be a simple recipe utilizing only caramels, apples and butter. No my dear, there is NO butter in Apple Butter.

So I just picked a recipe at random (thanks Food.Com) and started peeling away.

Ingredients:

3 pounds apples

½ cup water

2 cups sugar

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

2 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon cinnamon

21 30 caramels

Peel, core and chop your apples.

I used Fuji, just because. Add ½ cup water and cook over medium heat till soft. Puree in two batches and return to pan. Add 2 cups sugar and cook, cook, cook. Keep your heat low here or giant bubbles will spray hot apples all over you and your stove. Also, wearing non-slip foot ware helps keep you upright as you jump suddenly back from said hot apple mixture. This is an important step so don’t skip it. When thickened, add in spices and unwrapped caramels and stir till melted. Fill four jelly jars.

 

According to Food.Com you could go ahead and process these in a water bath canner, but as my time these days is limited I just ladled the butter into jars and refrigerated. I will either freeze the extra or gift it to my old co-workers. Mark – my car needs a little lovin’, wanna make a trade….

Alright, I have four jars of homemade Caramel Apple Butter. Now what? A blind taste test of course. Completely unbiased. No husbands were bribed for the purpose of this post.

And the verdict is . . .

He picked mine! He picked mine! I’m a decent food blogger after all!

That isn’t to say they were the same though. Clearly they look different.

Hence the need for the blind taste test. Mine was thicker in texture and lighter in color.

No worries, I think the heartier texture is easier to spread and we both found it be much fresher tasting. It should be, it was made fresh. The recipe I used called for cloves and ginger which the Husband thought could be removed to better copy the flavor of the original. The spices did lend somewhat of a pie taste. Perhaps I made Caramel Apple Pie Butter then. They were both very sweet, so a little packs quite a punch. Maybe a nice topping for some banana soft serve? You all know what banana soft serve is, right?

Okay, so what is the point of this long drawn out story??

      1. Foodie Pen Pals is fun
      2. I’m awesome in every way
      3. My husband looks damn good in his Buff blindfold
      4. You can find anything on Google
      5. Oh, and it’s easy to recreate your favorite food

We’ll see what goodies next month leaves on my doorstep . . . hopefully I’ll be back in full fighting force!

Thanks again to The Lean Green Bean for sponsoring Foodie Pen Pals. If you are interested in joining up, here’s the details:

Joanna

Question of the Day: What’s your favorite local fare?

15 Comments

  1. Nicely done! I should ask my husband about what ingredients he thinks would be involved for caramel apple butter because I think he would be the same. 😉

  2. I totally love this post! Your foodie pen pal posts are always unique and memorable! I am an apple butter or anything butter – for that matter- kind of fiend! yum!

  3. So cool! i love that you do this, they both look delicious.

  4. If you need a second blind taste test I volunteer!

  5. Where do I get a buff blindfold to put my husband in? And I totes agree with your five points. I don’t know what my favorite local fare is, but I’m gonna think on it and get back to you so you can make me some? 🙂

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  8. BRILLIANT! I love apple butter!…and pumpkin butter, and fig butter, and jam…well, pretty much any condiment in general, but apple butter is one of my favorites! I’ve never even heard of caramel apple butter before! And now that I sit here typing this, I wonder why on Earth I’ve never tried making my own “butters” before…definitely need to change that. Starting with THIS! 😀

    • Go for it! Mike and I both thought the homemade was WAY better than the store bought. It was pretty darn easy too. Have you ever had tomato preserves before? My grandma made them when I was a kid and it is my favorite spread of all time.

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  10. Do you think you could make this in the crock pot instead of on the stove? I’m sure you could, but would you just put all the ingredients in and cook on low?

    • Probably although I have no idea how long it would take. But yeah, I would say low would be your best bet. I’m a big fan of the crockpot since I don’t have to babysit the stove so let me know if it works out!!!