Trunk or treat was three weeks ago and the kids candy buckets are still full.
I have an idea. Let’s play dress up. I’m the teacher and you’re the student.
Which of the following is the reason why their candy buckets are not empty:
a) Their buckets were so big that they couldn’t have possibly made a dent in three weeks.
b) I am a horrible, mean mom and don’t allow my kids to have a single M&M, not ever.
c) A secret candy-bucket-refiller lives in our garage and accomplishes his mission each night while we’re sleeping.
d) None of the above.
(can’t make it too easy)
There is a monster, living in our garage, working hard every night to replenish the kids candy buckets. We’ve even named him.
Duke the Dehydrator!
Catchy, eh? Manly and tough?
I’m just kidding though. We didn’t really name the dehydrator. But I was serious when I said it was filling the candy buckets.
We don’t eat much candy in our house. In fact, I had to toss out candy that was still in their buckets from last year before heading out that evening. Have no fear, our kids won’t be scarred for life and grow up having no clue what candy is.
- M&M’s are a great incentive for potty training, memorizing bible verses and riding a bike without training wheels
- Mommy “wasn’t fast enough” to catch the Hershey kisses that missed Daddy’s jar for Father’s Day
- Gifted dark chocolate bars were delicious chopped up in chocolate chip cookies
- It’s fun to “taste the rainbow” when learning colors.
Kid #1 is a natural fruit eater. He’ll choose tomatoes over a candy bar any day of the week. Around 10 months or so, his grandparents picked him up and held him over a 2lb clamshell of blueberries. 45 minutes later, he had to be pried away.
Kid #2 on the other hand is a snacker and has a sweet tooth like her mama. Because she knows it’s available, it’s not uncommon to hear her ask for a piece of candy from her bucket. It’s only given as a treat, but the mere fact she’s asking makes me want to toss it.
I didn’t want to spend the money on Halloween candy, and I didn’t want any other parents to have the same sinking feeling of throwing away what someone else worked hard to pay for. Instead, I wanted to make something that was fun and healthy at the same time.
While shopping at Wal-Mart for some reason or another, paper sacks filled with SUPER CUTE tiny granny smith apples caught my eye. The mini factor alone made me want to fill my cart! And they were only 33¢/lb.
Somehow a bag made its way into my cart… we didn’t need them and I had no plan to use them, but they stayed because they were SO STINKIN’ CUTE!
The right side of my brain kicked the left and required a legitimate reason to keep them. With the help of tubs of caramel sitting precociously next to the apples, I thought about making caramel apples for all the kids – from scratch. Fun and healthy? Yes indeed!
Another bag joined the first and with my caramel apple plan in place, all I needed was to figure out a way to package them up so the kids wouldn’t get messy and the apples would make it home safely.
Apparently my brain has quite the karate chop because my common sense meter was turned off. Caramel apples are not ideal for candy buckets.
But Duke saved the day!
I devised a way to carry over the caramel flavor through hours and hours of the slow dehydration process and the end result was addictingly delicious. Ever had a bag of those caramel apple chips? They’re kinda like that, but without the chip guilt.
Note: Please read the entire recipe before beginning. Total time required is 16-24 hours.
Dehydrated Caramel Apples
4-5 small granny smith apples, or 3-4 large, washed
2 cups water
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1/3 cup brown sugar
Combine water, lemon juice and brown sugar in a large bowl; stir to dissolve the sugar.
Cut each apple in half and slice each end off the apple (the stem and butt) and don’t worry about the seeds.. Slice the remaining apple into approximately 3/8″ thick slices, making the slices as even as you can. Use a mandolin if you have one.
* Do not slice too thin or the apple will stick to the dehydrator. Purple nail polish optional.
Repeat for the remaining apples. Place cut apples into the sugar water, stirring so each apple is coated with the water. Let soak for 8-12 hours, stirring occasionally.
After soaking, place apples on a single layer on the dehydrator. Set the temperature for 145 degrees and allow to run for 8-12 hours, testing at the 8 hour mark for doneness. Apples should be hard and crunchy without any moisture. Store in a sealed container.
A few notes on this process:
- The soaking and dehydrating times are approximate. I started a batch in the morning, put it in the dehydrator after dinner and let it run overnight.
- The sugar water can be reused for a second batch. Once the first batch was in the dehydrator, I cut up more apples and let them soak overnight.
- Do not use the sugar water for a third batch. The flavor is too weak to survive the dehydrating.
- It is not necessary to peel or remove the seeds from the apples.
- Cinnamon can be lightly sprinkled on before dehydrating, or in the water. Just remember that the flavor will be concentrated in the end result.
There were many happy moms to see apples in their kid’s candy buckets that night. And those same moms were even happier to see their kids eating and enjoying apples instead of candy!
PS – These are nice to have on hand when you get that post-dinner crunch craving too.