Evil Queen’s Caramel Apples

As soon as October hits, I start hankering for a hypercrisp caramel apple. While sometimes the store-bought variety is enough to satiate the need for that first crisp bite (can you already taste the tanginess in your mouth just thinking about it?), I wanted to craft some this year that make the Affy Tapple brand look sterile and stale by comparison.

The secret to the perfect caramel apple is a just-right amount of tartness.  For this shoot, I paired Granny Smith apples with micro-sized mini chocolate chips and covered Gala apples with a mix of moody black walnut pieces in addition to some brighter-tasting California walnuts. Black walnut is not a lighthearted nut… it has a dark, wine-y flavor in comparison to the normal variety.  You should experiment with both to taste the difference.

These caramel apples are wild and unruly in both looks and flavor profile.  I think that even the evil queen in Snow White would approve.  Though I don’t intend to cast a spell of eternal sleep with these, they give an ominous, halloween-y vibe with their scraggly too-long apple branches.

If you’re making your own caramel apples this year, it helps to chill the apples before dipping them in the hot caramel.  It’s also the tendency for the toppings to slide down the apples as they’re drying, so use smaller pieces so that gravity doesn’t speed the process.  Then again, you’ll probably want to be eating them while the caramel’s still hot!

Olive Oil Cupcakes

Chicago is snowy and gray, so I’m posting a recipe that I sampled during some of the last warm days of September.  I need some warm autumn colors and tastes in my life right about now!

olive oil from afar

During a visit home to rural Illinois only a few months ago, I had to battle a tangle of moonflowers and morning glories to get to our front door.  Clumps of brown-eyed susans clustered around the path.  Their color seemed to be the perfect color-bridge to autumn and its yellows and oranges.  I decided to make olive oil-flavored cupcakes as a light treat.  The olive oil complemented the vanilla frosting, and the yellow batter seemed to soak up some of the bright festiveness of the  brown-eyed susans.

olive oil detail

Olive oil cupcakes are the perfect warm-up recipe to make today, with bright yellow cake that’s not in-your-face sweet!




1 and 1/4 cups flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 2 large eggs, 3/4 cups sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1/2 cups olive oil, 1/2 cups plain yogurt, pinch of salt


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare a cupcake pan
  2. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar
  4. Slowly add vanilla, olive oil, and yogurt to the wet mixture
  5. Slowly add dry ingredients to wet ingredients
  6. Fill cupcake pan with batter and bake for about 15 minutes or until ready.  Test by gently pressing a finger on the top of the cupcake.  If it springs back, it is done!