Fall is here in earnest, and once again, a blessed wind has blown the countless leaves off our maple trees down the street into our neighbors’ yards. And with the onset of autumn comes all sorts of seasonal treats…like elections (bet you thought I was going to say apples).
Last Saturday, Eric and I were talking about the ongoing presidential race and the various political signs peppering the lawns of South Minneapolis at present. Maybe it was because he’s struggling to find a ton of enthusiasm for either candidate–maybe its because he dislikes ugly graphic design–for whatever reason Eric informed me that he “could not conceive of ever having a political sign in our front yard.” This led to a rather robust “Would-You-Rather” exchange that went as follows:
Me: Would you rather have a 4′x4′ political sign, for either candidate, in our yard…or a flock of five pink, plastic flamingos?
Okay…political sign or one of those wooden old ladies bending over that you see in gardens?
So, for curiosity’s sake, old lady or flamingos?
Interesting…old lady or two plastic deer, positioned as if drinking from a stream?
Okay… one plastic deer or one of those giant bears cut out of a fallen tree?
Does the bear look pleasant or as though he’s in the act of mauling someone?
(incredulously) You would take an attacking bear over one placid, plastic deer?
Our front yard is like two feet wide, on a busy street. The plastic deer would look absurd.
Kids might run screaming from our bear.
I still say bear. At least it’s a form of art. Kindof.
Wow. Okay. 6′ bear or 6′ inflatable snowman?
What time of year?
Attacking bear or a political sign?
Ok, maybe we need to get more serious about the political season. But one thing we are serious about right now is desserts. Fall desserts. Apple desserts. And while we believe that nothing trumps apple pie in the Special Fall Desserts Edition of Would You Rather, sometimes it’s nice to have a change of pace. And a few weeks ago, I found that change.
We were hanging out with Eric’s family over the weekend, and Julia, his brother’s lovely girlfriend, brought this dessert over one night. The crust is made out of a gigantic sugar cookie, then topped with a creamy “sauce” of peanut butter, cream cheese, brown sugar, and vanilla. Then, thinly sliced apples are layered over the top, only to be drizzled by caramel sauce and sprinkled with salty peanuts. This “pizza” has a lot of flavor – the salty peanuts totally tie all the sweet and creamy flavors together. It’s a delicious take on caramel apples and definitely more easy to eat. I thought it might be fun to make these for a party too…and instead of making a pizza, make individual sugar cookie “pizzas” that people can more easily grab and mow down on.
P.S. If your yard has six different political signs, or if you look out your front window at little wooden garden ladies, or flamingos, or plastic deer, or bears, or blown-up snowmen, it’s very possible that you will close this tab and never read this blog again. No offense intended, we are actually people of conviction and appreciate our right to vote…we’re just sharing our political indecision and urban front yard limitations.
(yields one 14" pizza or 8 large slices)
This caramel apple pizza rests on a sugar cookie dough and is topped with a creamy, nutty sauce, thinly sliced apples, caramel sauce, and salty peanuts. I adapted it by making my own sugar cookie dough for the crust, changing up the apples, and doubling the caramel and peanuts.
18 oz. sugar cookie dough (you can buy the refrigerated tubes or make the easy recipe below
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
1/4 c. creamy peanut butter
3 medium apples*
1/2 c.caramel ice cream topping
1 c. salted peanuts, roughly chopped (may want to add a pinch of salt; I think the saltiness makes this dessert pop!)
*The original recipe called for Granny Smith apples, but I thought these were too tart...I think a sweeter apple would do just fine in this recipe.
Sugar Cookie Crust Recipe: (these ingredient amounts make TWICE the amount you will use for the pizza crust; I froze the other half for ready-to-make cookies for another day)
1 c. butter, softened
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 3/4 c. all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
First make the sugar cookie dough (if not using pre-made dough):
Cream together the butter and the sugar until smooth. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Gradually blend in the dry ingredients.
Chill HALF of this dough in the fridge for about 20 minutes. (**See below for what to do with the other half).
For the Pizza:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Take the chilled dough from above out of fridge and shape into a ball. Place in the center of a pizza stone or GREASED baking sheet. Flatten slightly. Sprinkled both sides of dough with flour; rub to spread. Roll out dough to a 14-inch circle, about 1/4 inch thick. Bake 16-18 minutes or until light golden brown. Remove from oven; cool 10 minutes. Carefully loosen cookie from baking stone using a long knife. Cool completely.
Thoroughly combine cream cheese, brown sugar, peanut butter and vanilla in a small bowl. Spread cream cheese mixture evenly over cookie crust.
Peel, core and thinly slice apples. Arrange evenly over cream cheese mixture.
Microwave ice cream topping on HIGH 30-45 seconds or until warm; drizzle evenly over apples. Chop peanuts and sprinkle over apples. Cut into wedges.
Best served the same day, but will keep in the fridge for a few days.
**(For unused half of cookie dough: line a plate with wax or parchment paper. Roll dough into 1-inch balls and freeze on plate. Once frozen, put dough balls into a freezer-safe container or bag. When ready to bake, put dough balls directly onto baking sheet, and bake in preheated oven at 375* for 9-10 minutes.)