On a camping trip many moons ago, Robb and I invented an alternative to the classic s'more: we chopped up an apple and threw it onto a piece of foil with a few caramel candies, then we wrapped it up and chucked it into the fire. Once we extracted the bundle, it was pretty yummy. But it wasn't perfect. I seem to recall that the apples weren't cooked evenly, and the caramel stuck to the foil in places and melted in an altogether questionable manner, as though it wasn't quite sure what to do.
Many summers have passed since then, but as Robb and I shopped for our camping trip this last weekend, I found myself thinking fondly of our apple experiment and wanting to do better. The truth of the matter, which I might as well confess now, is that I'm a little tired of s'mores. The stick-hunting, the messiness, the way I always break the graham cracker in the wrong place. (I mean, it's perforated...how hard can it be?) But I DO love dessert, especially while sitting around a campfire, and so I once again reached for a couple of apples and a bag of caramels as I perused the ShopRite aisles.
Robb and I are pretty low-maintenence campers. We should probably have a camping stove. Hell, we should probably have camping chairs. But in a way, we can't be bothered. Instead we just bring an old, cruddy skillet that we can put on the fire, and when we're ready to eat, we sit on a picnic bench or perhaps a log. Done and done.
As I chopped up apples for dessert, I started eyeing all of the ingredients splayed out on the picnic table and came up with a master plan. Instead of just apples, let's also use these peaches we bought from the farm today. And instead of foil, let's use the skillet. And instead of just caramels, let's add some butter. And just when you think it's done, let's douse the whole thing in whiskey and light it on fire.
Incidentally, we had to do the whiskey flambe part a few times so that I could get a decent photograph (a task I am still not sure we achieved), so our sauce turned out especially lively.
But wowie zowie was it delicious. After we ran out of the cooked fruit in the pan, we started cutting more fruit and running it through the bottom of the pan. And then I had to get gross and lick the spatula.
If you, too, would like to lick the spatula on your next camping trip or even at your next backyard campout, here is the official recipe!:
Campire Apples & Peaches With Whiskey Caramel Sauce
1 or 2 apples (I like Pink Lady)
1 or 2 peaches
8 to 10 squares of soft caramel candies
2 tablespoons butter
2 (or 3 or 4) ounces whiskey (I like Jameson)
Chop up the apples and peaches into bite-size chunks and toss in the skillet with caramel candies and butter. Place the skillet over the fire and stir the ingredients now and then with a spatula (or just flip the fruit around in the pan a bit). Once the caramel and butter begin to melt, keep stirring and let everything get nice and oozy. After a few minutes, appoint a brave person to reach into the pan and try an apple...when it's soft, you're ready to add your booze. Pour the whiskey right into the pan, then tilt the pan ever so gently into the flame. When the pan catches fire, keep the ingredients moving by shaking the pan, and try not to get distracted by the squeals of delight erupting all around you. The flames will extinguish after the flames go blue (which is a sign that the alcohol has burned out). Grab a fork...you're ready to eat! For the ultimate campfire experience, I recommend eating straight out of the pan.