Dear readers, at long last I’ve decided to settle an argument that has been dividing this nation for years. I’ve held my tongue, kept my opinions close, and refrained from adding my voice to the din. I said to myself, I said, “What good could it possibly do? I don’t want to hurt my dear friends and family, nor do I want to align myself with some of the more . . . vocal proponents of this albeit correct opinion.” But, this October, I’m compelled, nay, called to reveal the truth to you, dear readers: Nightmare Before Christmas is—most assuredly—a Halloween movie.
Calm your tinsel, Christmas elves, for you are wrong, wrong, wrong. Nightmare is an ode composed to Halloween and those who celebrate it. Does it dip its skeletal finger in the Christmas pie? Sure, but barely, and certainly not enough to be held in the same esteem as Elf or The Twelve Dates of Christmas. The minute October 1st hits, I keep Nightmare in the same constant rotation as Hocus Pocus, Death Becomes Her, and that fuzzy screen on the tv through which I communicate with the dead (incidentally, all great source material for the uninspired drag queens among you).
Now that we’ve put these doubts to bed, I recommend inviting some friends over, popping Nightmare into the old 8-track or whatever it is you kids use the days, and making these perfectly seasonal pumpkin fritters. In keeping with my full embrace of all basic #PSL stereotypes, I found myself at an apple orchard a few weeks ago, as one does in Missouri in the fall, and picked some frickin apples. It was appropriately gorgeous and rewarding, and I lost myself to an ecstatic autumnal bless heretofore unimagined and ended up with like a bushel of apples? Idk. I’m not a farmer, but there were a lot of apples, dude. Eighteen dollars later, I left with a puzzle: what to do with all these apples, especially as I am not currently filming a VH1 manners spin off hosted by Mo’Nique (I hope you didn’t think I would make it through this post without one reference to titty apples)? Then inspiration, or lunchtime, struck. Why not FRY them? I chopped up the apples, mixed them with pumpkin, fried it all up, and then dipped it in a decadent caramel sauce. It turns out fruit is delicious when you fry it and cover it in sugar. I personally love the flavor of maple and have found increasingly absurd ways to eat it (fried rice with maple soy sauce anyone?). In this simple caramel recipe, I use maple extract instead of syrup to concentrate the flavor. The fritters are incredibly easy and utilize all your classic fall staples, and if you make them while wearing Uggs, a satyr of the forest enters your home and impregnates you.
Speaking of satyrs, the spices in this recipe are optional. I’ve made the fritters both ways, and honestly, each is fantastic. The cinnamon and nutmeg contribute a pumpkin-pie dimension to the finished product, but if you omit them, the lemon shines and complements the crisp apple chunks inside the dough.
I encourage you to make these fritter ASAP before the expiration date on fall arrives, and pumpkins, and movies about pumpkins, and movies about svelte cartoons with pumpkin heads, fall out of season.
- 2 cups AP flour
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon (optional)
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg (optional)
- ½ cup of half and half
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- ½ cup of pumpkin puree
- ¼ teaspoon maple extract
- 2 apples peeled, cored and diced into ¼ inch chunks (I used golden delicious, but feel free to substitute)
- Juice and zest of one lemon
- Zest of one orange
- Canola Oil (enough to fill a heavy-bottomed pan by 1”)
- Powdered Sugar
- In a large bowl, whisk together the first 6 dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, mix together the half and half, egg, butter, pumpkin and maple extract until fully combined. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and mix until combined.
- Gently fold in the apple pieces and zest. Set aside.
- Add enough canola oil to the bottom of a heavy skillet to fill it ¾” to 1” full. Warm the oil over medium-high heat until the temperatures reads 350F, or until you can drop a small bit of dough in and it bubbles immediately.
- I use a small cookie scoop for my fritters, which is approximately tablespoon size, so if you do not have one, a heaping tablespoon works well. Cook the fritters in batches, approximately 2 minutes on each side, turning once. They should take a deep golden color. Drain them on a paper towel-lined baking sheet, and keep them warm in the oven at 200 degrees, until ready to serve.
- To serve: Arrange desired number of fritters on a plate and sift powdered sugar over top. Serve with caramel sauce.
- 1 cup brown sugar, packed
- ½ cup unsalted butter
- ¼ cup half and half
- teaspoon maple extract
- Sea Salt to taste (or ¼ teaspoon)
- In a small sauce pan, combine the brown sugar, butter, and half and half. Stirring occasionally over medium heat, bring to a gentle boil. Let the mixture boil for approximately 2 minutes, or until thickened.
- Remove from heat, and stir in the extract and the sea salt. Set aside and allow to sit for 20 minutes so that it continues to thicken. Serve with fritters.