A simple recipe for holiday potlucks

Okay folks here goes — I have been sitting on this recipe for a long time. We were first introduced to caramel apple salad at a recipe exchange potluck. Both the Mr. and I went nuts for the stuff. We have since made it for numerous gatherings and he is now the resident expert caramel apple salad maker. So why haven’t I sung its praises here? Well, (and I’m ashamed to say this) it seemed too easy and not ‘foodie’ enough. *sigh*

I’ve become a snob! But now that I have said it out loud, and in public, I am ready to begin bringing things back into balance. As my first step I am outing the sweet, sweet goodness of this perfect-for-a-church-social side dish. To keep it current I have done one thing: I made my own whipped topping (a.k.a. Cool Whip). Baby steps. Except – this homemade version is miles better than the stuff in the tub. Now I have a way to elevate caramel apple salad back into foodie status and have relapsed at the finish line. Oh well. I’m still going to use the pudding mix from a box, at least until I find a way to dehydrate and powder my own.

Caramel Apple Salad

This fluffy, sweet ensemble is only a salad in the very loosest sense of the word but don’t let that stop you from making it for every potluck or holiday meal from now until, well… FOREVER! Call it throw back, vintage, middle America or so old it’s new again and then call me when you are ready to serve it up. I could go on but you have already spent more time reading than it takes to make this crowd pleasing desserty side dish.

Prep time: 20 minutes. Chill time: six or more hours. Yield: 9 cups.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 to 3 pounds of Granny Smith Apples (about six medium)
  • Whipped topping (1 tub or see recipe below)
  • 1 (20 ounce) can of crushed pineapple (do not drain; use the entire contents of the can)
  • 1 packet of sugar-free butterscotch instant pudding

Method

No need to peel the apples just remove the core and chop them into 3/4 to 1 inch pieces. Stir the pudding and pineapple with its juice into the apples. Fold the whipped topping 1/3 at a time into the apples.

Cover and refrigerate the salad for six hours up to over night. The salad will keep in the refrigerator for three to four days.

Tips:

Any variety of whipping topping will work for this recipe.

Use two to three additional apples to stretch the recipe to make more servings and reduce the calories and fat per serving.

1/2 cup per serving: 166 calories, 8.7 g. fat, 21 g. carbohydrate, 2.6 g. fiber, 2.7 g. protein, pp = 5

With fat-free cool whip: 75 calories, .1 g fat, 15 g. carbohydrate, 1.3 g. fiber, .3 g. protein, pp = 2

Recipe origin unknown

Whipped Topping

This recipe makes a stable whipped cream that can be used for topping desserts, frosting cakes or folding into recipes. Alter the flavor by using other extracts such as orange, hazelnut or root beer. The finished topping will retain its volume and texture when refrigerated in a covered container.

Prep time: 15 minutes. Cook time: none. Yields approximately 3 cups of whipped topping.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 2 tablespoons very hot water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Method

Chill the bowl and whisk you will use to make the whipped topping for a minimum of 15 minutes before starting. Arrange all the ingredients before beginning to whip the cream. If possible use an electric hand or stand mixer for this recipe.

Boil or heat tap water and to activate the gelatin. While the water heats sift the sugar and measure the gelatin into a heat safe bowl. Pour the cream into your chilled bowl. From this point on work quickly and have all your ingredients within an arms reach.

Use a small whisk or fork to mix the hot water with the gelatin. Let the liquified gelatin cool slightly but do not let it become solid.

Begin whisking the cream at medium speed for about two minutes. When it is nice and frothy add the vanilla (or alternate flavoring) and sifted sugar. Resume mixing for another two or so minutes until the cream begins to increase in volume. Add the liquid gelatin and increase the mixing speed and continue whisking until the cream becomes stiff.

2 tablespoons per serving. Per serving 44 cal, 3.2 g., 3 g. carbohydrate, .5 g. fiber, 1 g. protein, pp= 1

Slightly modified from Yelena Sweets.

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