It’s Halloween season, which means it’s time for sweet treats and the classic caramel apple. Usually, caramel apples + kids equals a messy disaster, but we have some fun tips to make this fall classic fairly sticky-free with a twist that will encourage kiddos to participate. We hope you enjoy the ezpz Caramel Apple Bar!
The Texture of the Apple: Kids love caramel and candy, but a yummy apple should be just as tasty and exciting. The trick to picking the perfect apple is choosing the right texture for your child. The texture of the apple should allow for your child to bite into, chew and swallow the skin and the fruit. Some children prefer a firm texture with a lot of crunch, and other kiddos, especially those just learning to chew, may need a softer apple. Here is a list of delicious apples based on the texture you choose:
- Firm texture: Empire (red), Granny Smith (green), Braeburn (red), Fuji (red)
- Soft texture: Cortland (red), McIntosh (red), Golden Delicious (yellow)
The Taste of the Apple: The preferred taste is also important when choosing the best apple for your little one this Halloween. Most children enjoy a sweet taste, but some children are drawn to a tart taste, which wakes up their sensory system and alerts them to where the apple is in their mouth. No matter which taste your child prefers, there is an apple variety out there for them! I recommend these yummy apples:
- Sweet taste: Gala (red), Fuji (red), Pink Lady (red)
- Tart taste: Granny Smith (green), Braeburn (red)
The Caramel: At home, I make my own caramel dip. I enjoy the aroma and the time it takes to make a perfectly smooth texture. Creating your own homemade recipe with your kids can be fun, too. Make sure to have them add salt to reduce the sweetness of the caramel while enhancing the flavor of the apple. In feeding therapy, I use store-bought individual containers of caramel. I let the containers sit out at room temperature so they soften and pour easily into the dipping bowl. You can also heat up the caramel for a few seconds in the microwave so the dip becomes easier to dunk. This is especially helpful when using softer apples (e.g., Cortland, Golden Delicious), that way they don’t break apart while dipping.
The Toppings: When choosing toppings for your caramel apple bar you want to pick a few treat worthy toppings your child is sure to love. This could be crushed cookies, Halloween-themed candy or chocolate chips. Then try to choose two protein toppings like crushed nuts, pumpkin seeds or chia seeds. Fruit toppings like coconut flakes or crushed dried strawberries tend to be big hits too.
The Presentation: Presentation is everything with this colorful, high-energy extravaganza! Our Play Mat is the perfect workspace and will help make prep, dipping and cleanup ezpz.
First, wash your apple and use an apple slicer to cut even slices. Slices are important because the size and volume of a whole caramel apple can be overwhelming for kids. This is especially important for our picky eaters who want to participate in the fun but are hesitant to try new foods. Next, place the apple slices and colorful food sticks on the side of the mat for the kids to put together.
Lastly, pour the caramel sauce into the center section of the flower on the Play Mat. Place your five favorite toppings into each of the “petals” for easy dipping. Having a variety of colored apples and toppings can make crunching into this treat a thrilling sensory adventure.
Enjoy the fun and beauty of this fall fruit activity at home or at your next Halloween party. Do you have your own caramel apple tips and tricks? Tag us with #halloween2017 #myezpzmat #ezpzfun.
Dawn Winkelmann, M.S, CCC-SLP
Speech Language Pathologist & Feeding Specialist for ezpz