Google Groups
Subscribe to The Culinary Creative
Visit this group

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Special Dark Raspberry Rolls

Okay, making the break from apples.  It's almost Halloween and chocolate is the order of the day so to that end, here is a little bit of yumminess that I came up with. 

Now after seeing these, I'm sure you're thinking, K2, didn't we just see a roll-up treat?  Yes...yes, you did.  But I have a crescent roll addiction that must be fed.  I can't help it, they're delicious and go well with so many other tasty things which is why when the Parentals came back from their trip to Hershey, PA, burdened with glorious chocolate, I had to roll out the Pillsbury standby and do something fun with my part of the chocolate booty.

Trust me, when you stop shoveling these in your mouth, you'll thank me. Or a chocolate-covered thumbs up will suffice.

Special Dark Raspberry Rolls
make 1 dozen

1 (8 ct.) pkg. of Pillsbury crescent rolls
2 tbsp. seedless raspberry jam
1/3 to 1/2 cup Special Dark chocolate chips
4 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. cocoa powder

In a small dish, blend together the sugar and cocoa powder.

Pop open your Pillsbury and spread the dough out.  Press together the lengthwise seam between the crescents, then cut each of the four new dough pieces into thirds the short way.

I only worked on one half of the dough at a time
and yes, I used my fish cutting mat 'cuz that's how I roll

Spread raspberry jam on each of the pieces.

Sprinkle with Special Dark chips.

Roll them up and then roll them in the cocoa sugar.

Place on a prepared cookie sheet.

Bake at 375 degrees for 12 minutes, or until nicely browned and not squoogey inside.

Allow to cool for a minute or two before consuming, because that chocolate is going to be HOT!

In case you were wondering, they go great with a big bowl of French vanilla ice cream.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Check It Out: Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream

Okay, first a sincere apology to any of my readers who doesn't have a Harris Teeter grocery store around the corner.  I'm sorry but I couldn't resist a Check It Out on this.

If you've followed me at all, outside of my recent apple obsession, you know I can't help myself around pumpkin anything.  So FYI, my fellow pumpkin fans, Harris Teeter has put out a limited edition Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream that tastes like the milky froze version of that holiday classic.  Mmm, happiness.

So run to the store, scoop you out a dish, add a little caramel sauce or chopped pecans or a dollop of whipped cream...or by itself is fine too...and you will find I'm not lying when I tell you it's redonkulously delicious. (And I'm not a huge ice cream fan so this is big news!)

p.s. they have a limited edition Peppermint Bark and a limited edition Eggnog too!  Yummy Holidays!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Turtle Bites

So what do you do with leftover melted chocolate when there are no more caramel apples to coat?  You make Turtle Bites, of course.

I had grand plans of actually making my caramel coating for my last post from scratch so had bought a bag of caramels...which accidentally got opened in the interim and someone (I think it was the cats) started eating them so there wasn't really enough to make a full batch of dipping caramel.  But I digress.

Since I had the caramels on hand and always keep my freezer well-stocked with NC shelled pecans, I threw them together with the rest of the chocolate candy melt.  Waste not, want more.

Turtle Bites

2 dozen caramels, unwrapped
2 dozen pecan halves
4-6 oz. chocolate candy melt, CandiQuik or candy coating

Cut the caramels in half with a paring knife.

Put a pecan half between the caramel halves and gently mash and smoosh the caramel around the nut. 

Using a fork, dip the ball of caramel and pecan in the melted chocolate.  Shake lightly to allow excess chocolate to fall off.

Set on a sheet of wax paper and allow to set.

Sea Turtle Variation

I didn't think of it until after I'd make all of my chocolates, but if you wanted to try something a little fancy, sprinkle a few grains of sea salt on the candies before the chocolate sets.  Mm-mmm.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Chocolate Caramel Apples with Albino Spiders

Inspired by a trip to the NC State Fair this weekend, the impending arrival of my all-time favorite holiday, and continuing with my recent All Apples All the Time posting, I bring you a twist on an old favorite...chocolate caramel apples with albino spiders! Okay, the spiders are white chocolate but that doesn't sound nearly as cool.

Chocolate Caramel Apples with Albino Spiders

6 small red delicious apples
1 (14 oz.) package microwaveable caramel
8-10 oz. chocolate candy melts, CandiQuik or candy coating
6 skewers (8") or candy/caramel apple sticks

albino spiders
2-4 oz. white candy melts, CandiQuik or candy coating
small disposable piping bag or small baggie


Here's a great way to get your caramel to stick better to the apple.  Boil a small pot of water.  Do a quick dip and rinse with your apples, then dry them off with a paper towel.

The hot rinse will help remove any shiny wax on the skin of the fruit and give it more of a matte finish.  This will help your caramel stick better. A shout out to my friend, Kathy, for that very helpful and effective hint.


Skewer your apples. I  recommend using a more heavy duty stick because the combined weight of the apple + caramel + chocolate is going to required something more than the little popsicle sticks provided in the caramel apple kit.

I went with a microwaveable caramel coating
because it took less time than making caramel
from scratch and was much less messy too.

Heat your caramel according to package directions.  Coat your apples with the caramel.  Place them on a lightly greased cookie sheet or sheet of wax paper.  Place in the fridge to set while you melt the chocolate.

Melt the chocolate candy coating until smooth.

this is actually a full 16 oz. pack of chocolate, discovered
that I did not need all of it for this project, but you'll
see what I did with the leftover chocolate in an upcoming post
Remove the apples from the fridge.  Fold the excess caramel that's pooled under the apple back onto the apple.  Caramel should be malleable to fold and press without sticking to your hands or falling off the apple.

With the help of a spatula or spoon, coat the caramel-coated apple with the candy coating.  Gently shake off any excess and place on a sheet of wax paper on a cookie sheet (or in my case, on a wood cutting board).

Place the chocolate-coated apples back in the fridge to allow the chocolate to set.

SPIDERS (Optional)

Melt the white candy coating.

Fill a disposable piping bag, or small baggie with a small hole cut in the corner, with the melted chocolate.  Pipe the chocolate onto a sheet of wax paper.

To create the spiders you can draw four long lines that cross in the middle and then pipe a big blob in the middle -- voila! Albino Spider!  You want to make sure the "legs" aren't too thin or they'll break when you try to remove them.  Should only take a minute or two for the spiders to set.

To attach the spiders to your chocolate caramel apples, dip a butter knife or small pastry knife in a hot mug of water. 
Shake off excess water and while the knife is still warm, melt a small spot on the top of the apple and on the back of the spider, then press them together.  Should immediately attach.

And done!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Comment APPLEez-vous?

Is it me or are there a lot more apple choices in the produce section these days?  It's a little mind-boggling to think that this is just a miniscule representation of the 2500 some varieties of apples grown in just North America alone!
I thought it might be nice though to present a little Who’s Who guide based on the ones you find available most often in your grocery store. 

Background:  originated in New Zealand in 1952, named after Braeburn Orchard where it was first grown commercially
Parentage:  believed to have been developed from a chance crossing between a Lady Hamilton and a Granny Smith apple
Color:  yellow undertone with a streaky red overtone
Taste:  uniquely sweet and tart flavor (a definite reflection of its parentage)
Culinary use:  a good multipurpose apple that’s great for cooking, tend to hold their shape and don’t release a lot of liquid (so especially good for tarting)

Cripps Pink
my personal favorite
Background:  originally bred in Western Australia by John Cripps from whom they get their name, also known as the Pink Lady
Parentage:  cross between Golden Delicious and Lady Williams
Color:  blushed pink with hints of red
Taste:   very fragrantly sweet and crispy
Culinary use:  best for enjoying raw, great for salads

Background:  hails originally from Japan, known as a Mutsu, but renamed to Crispin in the 1960s
Parentage:  cross between a Golden Delicious and a Japanese Indo apple
Color:  bright yellow green
Taste:  sweet, refreshing, super crispy
Culinary use:  good for eating, baking, freezing, roasting or cooking, also great for salad and pies, but most importantly, makes a darned tasty hard cider

Background:  developed in Japan in the 1930s, began to be grown stateside in the 1980s
Parentage:  cross between Red Delicious and a Virginia Ralls Janet
Color:  bi-colored red and yellow
Taste:  sweet and firm, rounded
Culinary use:  great for plain eating and in salads, but also makes a great applesauce

Background:  originated in New Zealand, brought to the US in the 1970s and now one of the most popular apples in America
Parentage:  cross between a Golden Delicious and a Kidd’s Orange Red
Color:  vary in color from creamy orange to red and/or yellow striped
Taste:  crisp, juicy, very sweet but mild
Culinary use:  best raw for snacking and as a salad topping

Golden Delicious
Background:  shares only its name with Red Delicious (not just a lighter version), used as a cultivar (i.e., the parent apple of many varietals)
Parentage:  was a chance seedling cross between a Grimes Golden and a Golden Reinette
Color:  light yellow with an occasional green blush
Taste:  sweet and mild with a juicy crispness
Culinary use:  good for baking, freezing, saucing or eating raw, makes good applesauce or apple butter

Granny Smith
Background:  got its name when it was chance discovered in 1868 by “Granny” Anne Smith of Rude, New South Wales
Parentage:   believed to be a possible descent of a French crabapple
Color:  probably the most widely recognized apple with green skin and occasionally a red blush
Taste:  tart tart tart and super crispy
Culinary use:  all-purpose apple great for cooking, baking, stewing or eating raw slathered with creamy peanut butter (mmmmm)

Background:  developed at the University of Minnesota’s Horticultural Research Center
Parentage:  cross between a Macoun and a Honeygold
Color:  similar in appearance to a Braeburn only with more green undertones
Taste:  light honey sweet flavor, but with a crunchy crispy tartness
Culinary use:  good for snacks and salads, also makes a good applesauce

Background:  developed at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva
Parentage:  cross between a Golden Delicious and a Jonathan apple
Color:  can be either golden green or greenish gold and brindled red
Taste:  tart and sweet, very juicy
Culinary use:  good for raw snacking and salads, makes a good sauce, good for baking and freezing too, make a great fried apple (just add butter and cinnamon)

Background:  named after John McIntosh who discovered the sapling in 1811, started selling the fruit in 1835, it was introduced into commercial production in the 1870s and was a widely common used apple in the Northeast
Parentage:  it’s a cultivar (so a parent itself)
Color:  bi-colored red and green
Taste:  juicy, tangy, and tart with tender white flesh
Culinary use:  best for snacking, makes naturally pink tinted applesauce, delicious as a cider, great in pies and tarts but FYI, it cooks down really easy so make sure to cut slices thick or add a thickener otherwise it becomes mush
FYI:  apparently Jef Raskin of Apple, Inc. named the Macintosh line of PCs after this apple

Northern Spy
Background:  discovered around 1800 in East Bloomfield, NY
Parentage:  believed to be descended from a Wagener apple
Color:  green base color with “stripings” of red
Taste:  juicy and crunchy, mildly sweet but with a slightly acid edge, is high vitamin C
Culinary use:  reputed to be one of the best apples for desserts and pie as well as juices and ciders, but kind of lives up to its name in that they are very hard to find

Red Delicious
Background:  originated in Peru, Iowa where it was discovered in 1870s as a chance seedling, one of best knows types recognizable by its elongated in shape with a “footed” bottom (like a plastic soda bottle)
Parentage:  just kind of found on its own
Taste:  sweet, crisp, and juicy but with a slightly bitter thick skin
Color:  various shades of red
Culinary use:  best eaten fresh and raw, especially good for salads


Sunday, October 13, 2013

Applesauce Cinnamon Donuts

So these aren't your store-bought donuts, by any means, they're definitely homemade, but cakey and delicious all the same.

Applesauce Cinnamon Donuts

3/4 cup brown sugar (not packed)
1/2 cup applesauce (see recipe at bottom of page)
1 tbsp. shortening
1 egg
2-1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
2-3 tbsp. cinnamon sugar

Blend together brown sugar, applesauce, shortening and egg.  Don't worry if the shortening doesn't blend easily, it will get incorporated in the next couple of steps.

Mix together flour, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt.

Add the applesauce mixture to the dry mix and bring together into a dough.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and roll to 1/2" thick.  If the dough is too sticky, you might need to add more flour. See note below.

Cut with a doughnut cutter.  Or you can use two biscuit cutters to make it doughnut-shaped.

Fry in hot oil (about 365 degrees) until browned on both sides, about 2-3 minutes per side.

Drain and then roll in cinnamon sugar.


My donuts turned out a bit denser than originally planned because it's been raining this week and the extra moisture in the air made it necessary to add more flour to make the dough malleable and non-super sticky.  Use your best judgment when adding the flour.  You don't want it to be too dry, but you don't want it sticking to everything either (makes it tricky to roll out when it plasters to the rolling pin).

I don't have a Fry Baby or Daddy, so I used a wok with a rack that fit around the edge which worked really well for draining the donuts before rolling them.

You can roll your donuts in regular sugar too, or make a glaze by mixing powder sugar and water until it forms a thick glaze and dip you donuts in that. Get creative.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Apple BBQ Sauce

This one is a two-fer post.  Not only do you get the lowdown on an easy-to-make applesauce, you get a fun new way to use it too.  Two recipes, what a treat!  It's almost like its Halloween already.

Apple BBQ Sauce

1 cup applesauce (see recipe below)
3/4 cup chili sauce
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tsp. Worchestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. fresh cracked black pepper
1/4 tsp. dried basil
1/8 tsp. garlic powder

Mix all ingredients together and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes to allow flavors to blend.  Spicy and refreshing!

Warm before serving, can be used as a baste or sauce to dip in.  Goes great with grilled pork chops or chicken breasts.

I made mine using chunky applesauce, so pureed it in the blender before using to make it smooth.

Super Saucy Apples

2 Golden Delicious apples
2 Granny Smith apples
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup Sugar in the Raw

Peel, core and rough chop the apples.

Put apples in a saucepan with the water and sugar.  Cover and cook over medium heat for 20 minutes.

Remove from heat and allow to sit about 5 minutes.

For chunky sauce, mash cooked apples with a potato masher or fork.

For a smoother sauce, put cooked apples in a blender or food process and puree.

Transfer to a non-reactive bowl (ceramic or glass, not metal or plastic) and refrigerate.

To make cinnamon applesauce, add 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Butternut Squash-Apple Soup

As the weather gets cooler...somewhere (apparently not in NC)...soup becomes a pretty common go-to dinner move.  So here is something that blends two of my favorite fall edibles, apples and butternut squash.  It's pretty easy to pull together and makes a nice meal, or side dish.

Butternut Squash-Apple Soup

32 oz. vegetable stock
1 small-large (versus large-large) butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and coarsely chopped
3 Honeycrisp apples, peeled, cored, and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup Half-n-Half, at room temperature or slightly heated
salt and ground white pepper to taste

In a large saucepot, bring the vegetable stock to a simmer over medium heat.

Add in the butternut squash and apple pieces, then cover.

Cook over medium heat for 20-30 minutes, or until butternut squash is fork tender.

If you like a coarser textured soup, use a potato masher to squush the cooked squash and apples.  If you like smoother textured soup, run it through a blender to puree.

Add in the warm Half-n-Half, and salt and pepper to taste.

Done! With a couple of thick slices of rustic bread on the side, you have a nice belly-filling meal.