LESSON OBJECTIVES AND OUTLINE FOR TEACHERS
1. LESSON OBJECTIVES
- Measure and combine ingredients.
- Caramelize sugar without crystalizing it.
- Use a candy thermometer.
- Transfer warm caramel to a bowl.
- Wash and dry apples.
- Insert pointed sticks into the stem end of apples.
- Dip apples in caramel and drain off excess.
- Maintain the proper temperature of caramel and apples.
II. KITCHEN ORGANIZATION: TIPS AND TECHNIQUES
1. It is not necessary to prepare ahead of time for this lesson.
2. Much of the time involved in this recipe is spent watching the thermometer until the mixture reaches the correct temperature. Therefore, the apples can be washed and dried by the students and returned to the refrigerator while the caramel is cooking.
3. Students with extra time may spend it cleaning up as necessary.
4. During a two-hour period of Religious School, a hundred children can make caramel apples if the caramel is prepared ahead of time. Allow each child to put the stick in the apple and dip his own. Students may write their names on the waxed paper sheets and retrieve their own apple when school is over. If the children are sent into the room where this is being done a dozen at a time, there is no need to disrupt the school day and there is less of a chance of having them get into trouble if they don’t have to wait too long for their turn.
1. Do not stir the sugar while it is caramelizing as the stirring action may cause it to form crystals. If crystals do begin to form, use a wet brush to drip water down the sides of the pot at the edge of the caramel.
2. Use a pot that can accommodate double the amount you are making as the mixture bubbles up and expands as the butter and milk are added.
3. As stated in the recipe, this works best when the caramel is warm and the apples are cold.
4. Using very small apples allows more of them to be dipped in the caramel and creates less waste on the part of the children.
5. Popsicle or lollipop sticks can be used if pointed ones are not available, but they are more difficult to insert into the apple and the apples have more of a tendency to fall off a popsicle stick.
6. Allow time for the caramel to drain off the apple so that it is not wasted making a mess by running all over the waxed paper sheet. Part of the fun for the children is watching the caramel drip.
7. Resist the temptation to add water to the caramel when it has thickened and is being rewarmed as it will not adhere to the apples properly when it does solidify.
8. Chilling the apples in the refrigerator once they have been made makes them less messy to deal with when it is time to take them home.
III. FOOD FOR THOUGHT
A. Our synagogue began this project to make coming to Religious School an anticipatory experience, and during the week that the children know this is being done, it has been a great success. We began originally by getting together to peel the wrappers off of thousands of caramels, but this recipe, which uses real milk and real vanilla and no artificial flavorings produces a superior candy that is much cheaper when a quantity is being made. The added benefit is that the older kids who make the caramel in class can help the younger kids dip the apples and it is fun for everyone. Extra caramel that is left over can be put into miniature paper candy cups and distributed as rewards in class.
MATERIALS FOR CARAMEL APPLES
- 2 c. sugar
- 2 c. light corn syrup
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 1-1/2 c. evaporated milk
- 2 t. vanilla
- 2 dozen small apples
- 2 dozen pointed wooden sticks
- waxed paper bakery sheets
- 1 jar unsalted peanuts
- 6–8 qt. pot
- candy-jelly thermometer
- large mixing spoon
- measuring cups
- measuring spoons
- small clean paint brush
- medium glass bowls or large glass measuring cups
- pencils for writing on waxed paper
- flat trays for carrying apples to refrigerator
FOR THE STUDENTS:
Shemini Atzeret which immediately follows Hoshanah Rabbah, the seventh and last day of Sukkot is considered a separate, independent holiday from Sukkot. “On this day, it has become customary to say a solemn prayer for rain. According to tradition, this is when God judges the world’s water, so the prayer asks for enough rain to support life but not so much as to cause flooding and famine. “As with several other Jewish holidays, Shemini Atzeret was extended to two days in early times, to allow for a ‘margin of error’ should the exact date of celebration be slightly miscalculated by those far away from the Land of Israel. The second day eventually became known as Simhat Torah, or ‘Rejoicing in the Law,’ because this is when the last verses of the Torah—the Five Books of Moses—are read in the synagogue, and the cyclical reading of the Torah is begun anew at Genesis.”2
During the morning services on Simhat Torah, an aliyah is given to every member of the congregation during the reading of the last book until every member who wishes to partake of this honor has had an opportunity to do so. During the reading of the book of Genesis, the aliyot are given to the children of the congregation and again, every child who wishes to partake of this honor may do so. The celebration may involve the making of flags by the children of the Religious School or the distribution of colorful printed flags to the children. The children also receive apples which are sometimes mounted on the pointed top of the flag stick. Another element of the celebration of this holiday is the removing of all the Sifrey-Torah from the Aron-ha-Kodesh so that individual members of the congregation may have the honor of promenading around the synagogue carrying them while singing and dancing in a joyous tribute to the acceptance of the law by the Jewish people. At times, the celebration becomes so spirited that it spills out onto the streets surrounding the synagogue and catches up the passers-by who may join in the dancing and singing.
While the recipe below for caramel apples is not really a tradition in “Bubbie’s Kitchen,” it has become a traditional treat in many synagogues in the United States along with the candied apples that are traditional in Israel. This recipe was included in “Bubbie’s Kitchen” at the request of many of the Religious School children at Temple Sinai, Dresher, Pennsylvania (where the research for this curriculum was carried out) because every year as Simhat Torah approaches, each child makes his own caramel apple during Religious School with the help of some very cooperative mothers and teachers.
- 2 c. sugar
- 2 c. light corn syrup
- 1/4 c. water
- 1 stick (8 T.) unsalted butter
- 1-1/2 c. evaporated milk, scalded
- 2 t. vanilla extract
- 1/2 t. salt
1. In a heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup, and water. Stir over moderate heat until the mixture boils and becomes clear. Wash down the sugar crystals on the sides of the pan with a wet brush.
2. Boil the syrup over high heat until its temperature reaches 25() degrees on a candy-jelly thermometer. Stir in the butter, a tablespoon at a time. Turn the heat down to moderate and add the evaporated milk gradually--in about six parts--boiling and stirring constantly until each addition is thoroughly incorporated.
3. Continue boiling the syrup, stirring often, until the thermometer registers 245 degrees (the temperature will have dropped with the addition of the milk); this usually takes about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla and salt. Cool for 2 minutes.
4. Lightly grease a baking sheet. Pour the caramel mixture onto the sheet, placed on a rack. As the candy begins to cool down--in about 5 minutes--form it into a 10-inch square with a buttered spatula or your hands. Cool until firm throughout, about an hour.
5. Place the candy on a board and cut it into 12 strips, using a sharp, serrated knife and cutting with a rapid sawing motion (cut in any other fashion, the caramels will stick together). Separate the strips as you cut them. Cut each strip into 12 pieces, again separating the pieces as you cut them apart. 6. Immediately wrap each square in plastic or waxed paper. Pack airtight; the caramels will last for months.
The quantities for this recipe are a little sketchy because depending upon the temperature of the caramel at any given time, the size of the apples used, and the amount of time allowed for the caramel to drip off the apple back into the bowl, the amount of coverage of a quantity of caramel is extremely variable.
- 1 recipe caramels (see above)
- approximately 2 dozen small apples
- pointed sticks for the apples
- waxed paper bakery sheets
- 1 jar finely chopped peanuts
1. Wash the apples and dry thoroughly.
2. Refrigerate apples and keep them cold right up to the minute when they are used.
3. Follow the caramel recipe above only through Step 3. Pour the warm caramel into a small glass bowl or large glass measuring cup. The cold apples can then be dipped in right away, or refrigerate, covered with plastic wrap until needed. The caramel can stay in the refrigerator almost indefinitely.
4. The caramel must be kept warm as the apples are being dipped as it begins to thicken too much as it cools. If this happens, the best solution is to microwave for a minute or two, periodically, as needed. The caramel adheres to the apples better if a cold apple is dipped in warm caramel.
5. Press the pointed end of the stick into the stem end of an apple and dip the apple into the caramel.
6. Hold the apple on the stick over the bowl and allow the excess caramel to drip back into the bowl. When the excess has dripped off, turn the apple right-side-up for a moment to allow the caramel to coat more evenly, then turn upside-down again and dip the top in chopped peanuts.
7. Immediately place on a sheet of waxed paper and return to the refrigerator until ready to eat.
2Text from Gloria Kaufer Greene, The Jewish Holiday Cookbook; International Collection of Recipes and Customs (Published in the United States by Times Books, a division of Random House, Inc., New York, and simultaneously in Canada by Random House of Canada Limited, Toronto, 1985), pp. 107-108.
3Recipe from Helen Witty and Elizabeth Schneider Colchie, Better Than Store-Bought (New York, New York: Harper and Row, Publishers, Inc., 1979), pp. 272-273. Recipe has been doubled from original.