Holiday Baking: Caramel Apple Fantans

So, here’s the thing.  I like Fall.  But, I don’t love Fall.  I love Spring.  I just feel like I needed to throw that out there.  I enjoy the cooler weather and all, but let’s face it… it’s just not that much cooler in southwest Florida.  It was like 87 degrees the day I made these fantans.  In November.  Of course, since I’m saying that, the low tomorrow is supposed to be 40 and the high on Thanksgiving is like 65.  It will be the coldest Thanksgiving we’ve had in maybe 10 years.  Don’t worry, we’ll still go to the beach and play bocce ball.  Because that’s just what we do in Florida on holidays.

The one thing I actually do love about Fall is the seasonal baking.  In all reality, you can bake with apples and pumpkin (albeit canned, but who purees their own fresh pumpkin for pumpkin pie these days?) all year.  I’m assuming that up north, where the seasons actually change, warm apples and pumpkin deliciousness make everybody feel a little warmer.  Here, it’s partly an excuse to make it feel like the season has changed… and mostly to get us more in the mood for something completely awesome: Thanksgiving and Christmas!  Which, to me, means time with awesome family!  Bah!  All of a sudden SO excited for Thanksgiving!

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Okay, to the task at hand.  My contribution for Turkey Day is always these Pumpkin Whoopie Pies, which are dessert for the Thanksgiving Eve festivities (yes, we have those at our house and they usually involve deep frying anything we can get our hands on, including whoopie pies) and then usually breakfast for T-Day morning.  This year, I’m adding these amaze-balls Caramel Apple Fantans.  They take a while to make, but each step in the process is relatively easy, and the end result is worth.it.  Promise.  They are pull apart, sticky, sugary, apply delicious.  If you don’t have time for Thanksgiving, they would be great for Christmas, too!  And, AND, you can make them ahead of time (sans caramel).  They freeze really well… just make the caramel right before you serve ’em.  Please excuse the lighting in the photos… I made these at night, because that’s when I have time to bake with a newborn.

Here’s what you need: (Adapted from Southern Living)
Makes 12 – allow yourself a total of 3 hours, an hour of which is hands on

For the dough:

  • 1 (1/4-oz.) envelope active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water (105° to 115°)
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups bread flour
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

For the filling:

  • 9 tablespoons butter, softened and divided
  • 3 cups peeled and diced baking apples… I used Envy, but you can use Braeburn, Gala, Honeycrisp, etc.  Envys are huge, so I only used 2 apples
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup chopped toasted pecans (optional… I didn’t use nuts)

For the caramel glaze:

  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

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To prepare your dough, combine yeast, water and the teaspoon of sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and let sit for about 5 minutes.  Using the paddle attachment, stir in egg, the 1/4 cup sugar, butter, salt and 1 1/2 cups bread flour.  Beat on medium for about a minute or so.  Gradually add in the whole wheat flour and enough of the remaining bread flour to make a soft dough.  Turn the dough out on a bread-floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic… somewhere between 5-10 minutes… sprinkling with bread flour as needed.    Put dough ball into a lightly grease bowl and turn once to grease all sides.  Cover loosely with plastic and let rise in a warm place for 45-55 minutes, until doubled in size.

While the dough is rising, prepare the filling.  In a large skillet on medium-high, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter.  Add apples, raisins and brown sugar.  Saute about 5 minutes, until the apples are tender but still slightly crisp.  Remove from heat and let cool completely… at least 30 minutes.

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Punch your dough down and turn back out onto floured surface.  Roll to a 20″ x 12″ rectangle.  Spread remaining 8 tablespoons of butter evenly onto surface.  Mix together 3/4 cup sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle/spread over butter.  Spread apple mixture onto surface.

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Pay attention here:  Cut dough into 5 (12″ x 4″) strips and stack, replacing any apple mixture back onto the dough.  Then, cut into 6 (4″ x 2″) rectangles.  THEN, cut those rectangles in half so that you have 12 (2″ x 2″) squares.

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Stuff each set of squares sideways into cups of a greased muffin pan (cut sides up).  Cover loosely with plastic and let rise about 45 minutes – 1 hour, until dough has risen 3/4″ above pan.  Preheat oven to 375 and bake 18-20 minutes, until deep golden brown.  Cool in the pan on a wire rack.  You’re supposed to remove the fantans after 5 minutes and let cool completely on a wire rack, but mine started falling apart, so I let them completely cool on a plate.

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For the glaze, bring butter and brown sugar to boil in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly.  Boil for 1 minute, remove from heat and drizzle over rolls.  As I said before, the pre-glazed rolls freeze well.  The post-glazed rolls refrigerate well, also!  Enjoy!

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THANKSgiving

For our family, Thanksgiving started on Tuesday.  Scary Uncle Adam and Auntie Annie came home from school.  Auntie Annie and I took Bug to the (heated) pool Tuesday (Floatie Tube popped = TOTAL meltdown = no pictures)… but Wednesday is when the real fun began.

I was off gallivanting at a horse show with my Momma, which meant that Scary Uncle Adam & Auntie Annie (and Nana) got to babysit.  Bug couldn’t have had a better day.  They took a bike ride to G.G.’s house (Great Grandma).  Uncle Adam didn’t injure my child, which is a plus.

Hubby took a half day at work and when he got home everybody had an afternoon cocktail together in the kiddie pool (the regular pool was too cold).

Hubby, Adam & Annie built Buggy a fort.

And then built him a slide out of his kiddie table.  Look at that belly!  Kills me!  Wednesday evening, Hubby’s Aunt Jan and his cousins Kelly & Kasey drove down from Gainesville to join us in our annual Turkey Day festivities.

Our annual Turkey Day festivities consist mainly of three things: food, games & pajamas.  We started out the day at the beach.

We played our annual game of Bocce Ball on said beach.

We watched my baby be adorable.

We came inside and hawked Bug’s hair, and then laughed at him while he cried.  Just kidding… we’d never laugh at him if he was really crying… he was just fussing over something silly.  Probably Lego-rage.

We got out of our pajamas long enough to take some goofy family photos.  My parents came over and joined us for dinner.  Then, most of us quickly changed back into pajamas and a game of Catch Phrase ensued while sipping White Russians with Cinnamon Spice Kahlua.  Which, by the way, have you tried?  Holy yummy in my mouth.

To cap off our day, we played cornhole.  This is almost always the end to any family get together.  Kelly & I are pretty much undefeated several years in a row.  By pretty much, I mean that we have lost ONCE.  I don’t really want to talk about that, though.

I have so much to be thankful for… first and foremost my family.  I love that my parents and my in-laws all get along and that we all get to spend our holidays together.  What a blessing!

To cap off this post, I’d like to share a note that cousin Kasey posted on facebook… it pretty much sums up our Thanksgiving and our family in general:

1) Bypass breakfast completely and make a beeline for the pumpkin whoopie pies.

2) Before those have digested, head to the beach for family bocce ball tournament. Do not apply sunscreen.

3) Reign at above mentioned tournament.

4) Only get out of your pajamas when absolutely necessary.

5) When making an emergency run to the liquor store, be sure to do a shot of voda with the russian shop owner.

6) Make at least one harassing phone call to Nana.

7) Wrap your turkey with Bacon, lots of it. And then feed it to the family vegetarian.

8.) Sit proudly at your assigned seat at the kids table, even though you’re pushing 30.

9) DO NOT STOP EATING. AT ALL. ALL DAY. (this includes the day before and the day after as well.)

10) Be sure to include a ‘special olympics’ round of Cornhole for the sportily challenged of the family.

11) Laugh so loud during Cornhole that your neighbor comes out of his house to shut you up. Twice.

12) Instead of actually shutting up, create a persona for said neighbor that involves him owning weapons and hiding in the bushes.

13) Watch at least an hours worth of “Always Sunny”.

I hope your Turkey Day was as awesome as ours!