Caramel Apple Dipping Bar

20131106-142839.jpg

Perfect for parties or a fun dessert idea to try with kids, building a caramel apple dipping bar is a light dessert that lets guests create the dessert they want.

I did this as the dessert option on Halloween, when it was my turn to host my a small dinner party for friends as part of our weekly “Lovely Ladies Supper Club” meals. They said it was refreshing change from the over-sugary fare they’d been eating all week. (Check out the Curried Pumpkin Soup I made for that if you’re interested in how it works and why we get together.)

The hardest part of this dessert idea is picking the best caramel. I searched high and low for one that didn’t have hydrogenated oils, but of course it was still pretty sugary. I found my caramel melting bits at Target, and I believe they were called just Caramel Bits, but ask me about that if you want to know, and I’ll check. My friends later told me that a can of sweetened condensed milk can be made into caramel very easily, so that’s another recipe to try for another day…20131106-142911.jpg

Ingredients

1 bag of caramel bits for melting

2 bags of pre-sliced apples (or slice your own and splash with sprite or lemon-lime juice to prevent browning)

small serving dishes for toppings

skewers for dipping

Topping Ideas

mini chocolate chips, or chopped dark chocolate

chopped nuts

sprinkles

shaved coconut

small candies

the list can go on…

Directions

-Prep all the toppings and apples first. The caramel needs to be made directly before serving, so focus first on dividing the toppings into bowls, laying out the skewers and finding a cute matching dish for the apples.

-When it’s time to serve, melt your caramel bits according to package directions (they’ll all be different).

-Bring the caramel over to guests on a serving tray with small serving plates and the topping bowls, and let them have fun creating their own desserts.

Apple Sammies with Peanut-Butter-Yogurt Spread

Any women’s health and fitness mag will tell you, the best pre- or post-workout snack features healthy carbs and protein. A favorite go-to is the apple-peanut butter combo, but your refueling snack need not be so simple or boring.

So sandwich it!

And make the spread a little fluffier and sweetener.

Ingredients

1 apple, sliced into large rounds

1 T all-natural, salt- and sugar-free nut butter

1 T organic vanilla yogurt

dash of cinnamon

toppings of your choice (granola, dried fruit, coconut shreds, etc.)

Directions

Simply lay out the apple rounds and spread with the nut butter spread, which is just ingredients 2-4 mixed into a smooth, fluffy spread. Top however you like!

I like my apples sliced so that you can see the star in the middle. “Did you know it was there?” ┬áThat’s what my Grandma Betty would always ask when she’d slice my apples this way.

Perhaps that’s why I’m sort of partial to this recipe. It could also be the fact that the spread also makes a delicious dip for a group!

To make enough dip for a group, combine 1 cup peanut butter with 1 cup yogurt and 2 T cinnamon. Chill and serve with apples, pears, or banana slices.