January 19, 2019

Revel in Rosh Hashanah: Chocolate Dipped Honey Caramel Apples from Alice Medrich

Alice Medrich–chocolatier, author and creator of the “American” chocolate truffle– launched artisan chocolate trends in 1973. This entailed greater appreciation of dark chocolate, attention to cocoa percentages and awareness of quality chocolate. Medrich has appeared on the Food Network’s Chef Du Jour and Baker's Dozen, Julia Child’s PBS series Baking with Julia, and Joan Nathan’s Jewish Cooking in America. She also received several Cookbook of the Year awards from the James Beard Foundation and the International Association of Culinary Professionals. Medrich opened a chocolate and dessert store in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1976. She made up its name, Cocolat, to sound like a child speaking French. She sold what developed into a chain of seven Cocolat stores by 1989.

I reached out to Medrich by email with this question: I see that your books contain some recipes for Jewish holidays. I wonder if you might share how your Jewish identity connects to your work in chocolate. She responded:

I’m a very secular (California) Jew, but always interested in the cultural aspects (particularly  food ways) of Judaism and Jewish communities. When I travel I always want to see what there is, or remains, of Jewish life—synagogues, ghettos, Jewish quarters, restaurants, etc.  I was fascinated to learn about the history of Jews in chocolate, but I can’t say that I see a connection between my own involvement with chocolate and the fact that I am Jewish!

When it comes to preparing a Rosh Hashanah treat, Medrich recommended the Chocolate Dipped Caramel Apples, writing:

“They are delicious (we cut them in wedges, rather that trying to take a giant bite out of them!) and the caramel is made with honey, so you get your apple, your honey … AND your chocolate!” 

Thinking back to her contributions to creating a sophisticated American taste for chocolate, I asked Medrich this question by phone: How have chocolate trends evolved?

The first wave of the chocolate revolution (in the late 70’s and 80’s) was all about what we were doing WITH chocolate. The kinds of recipes and desserts we were making with it. Instead of sweet American candy and fluffy chocolate cakes, it became about the chocolate, such as truffles and flourless chocolate torte, all of those more European desserts that were more chocolatey and less sweet. My Cocolat stores were extremely important to that phase.

The next wave reinvented the chocolate itself and that came about when people like John Scharffenberger started making craft chocolate. I was lucky to have been there from the beginning. We redefined chocolate by being transparent about cacao percentages. Until then no American chocolate was labeled with that information and consumers had no understanding of the impact. There needed to be education.
I knew that chocolate in America was changing.

Thanks to Alice Medrich our chocolate eating options for Rosh Hashanah have vastly improved.

From Chocolate Holidays (Artisan 2005)
Alice writes this about the recipe: Homemade honey vanilla caramel and good dark chocolate raises the old fashioned caramel apple to the status of a fine confection—and why not for Rosh Hashanah— to be sliced into wedges and savored at the table! Choose crisp juicy new crop apples that are sensational to eat in the first place. In general I like sweet but tart Braeburns and Fujis, and the freshest Jonathons, each in their own time. But, the flavor and quality of apples change from week to week during the season so I often preview several varieties before choosing. I always sample the “new” antique varieties revived by local farmers while I’m at it.  There is no need to temper the chocolate for this recipe if you are willing to keep the apples in the refrigerator, which keeps them firm and fresh anyhow.

2 cups sugar
3/4 cups light corn syrup
1/4 cup honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups heavy cream
3 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened and cut into chunks
1 tablespoon plus one teaspoon vanilla extract
6 to 8 small to medium size cold apples
1 pound chocolate, coarsely chopped 
5-6 ounces chopped toasted nuts, optional

Candy thermometer
Long handled silicone spatula or wooden spoon
6 to 8 Popsicle sticks 

Combine sugar, corn syrup, honey, and salt in a heavy bottom 3-quart saucepan.  Cook over medium heat, stirring until the mixture begins to simmer around the edges.  Wash the sugar and syrup from the insides of the pot with a wet pastry brush or a wad of paper towel dipped in water.  Cover and continue to cook for about 3 minutes.  Meanwhile rinse the spoon or spatula before using it again later.  Uncover the pot and wash the sides once more.  Insert a candy thermometer without letting it touch the bottom of the pot.  Cook, uncovered, without stirring until the mixture reaches 305F, 5 to 10 minutes.   Meanwhile bring the cream to a simmer and keep it hot until needed. 

When then the sugar mixture reaches 305F, turn the heat off.  Stir in the butter chunks.  Gradually stir in the hot cream; it will bubble up and steam dramatically, be careful.  Turn the burner back on under the pot and adjust it so that the mixture boils energetically but not violently. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally until the temperature reaches 250F, about 30 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat.  Stir in the vanilla.  Transfer the caramel to a smaller pot or heatproof bowl deep enough to dip the apples.  Cool for 10 minutes.

Impale each apple on a stick.  Holding the stick, dip an apple into the caramel, allowing the excess to flow back into the pot.  Set the apple on a sheet of wax paper.  Repeat to coat each apple.  If the caramel gets too cool it will slide entirely off of the apple! If necessary, reheat gently (without simmering), then continue to dip.  Let the dipped apples set for until caramel is cool and firm at least 30 minutes, or refrigerate them.

Melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler over barely simmering water, stirring frequently until almost entirely melted.  Remove from the heat and stir until completely melted and warm, not hot. Dip each apple into the chocolate, allowing excess chocolate to flow back into the bowl. Sprinkle with nuts if desired.  Set the dipped apples on tray lined with wax paper.  Refrigerate to set the chocolate, keep the apples fresh and crisp, and keep the chocolate from discoloring.


“>On the Chocolate Trail: A Delicious Adventure Connecting Jews, Religions, History, Travel, Rituals and Recipes to the Magic of Cacao. Prinz also blogs at The Huffington Post and