Thursday, October 24, 2013

Cheater Caramel Fruit Dip

I love caramel. I love the real stuff that you painstakingly cook on the stove, melting sugar, whisking in butter and cream. I love it. But I don't always make it. I certainly don't whisk it up for an after school snack or to take to a play date with a bunch of young hooligans running around. And I certainly don't do it for a group of boy scouts who (somehow I suspect) would simply not have a proper appreciation for the art of melting sugar and who would just as soon eat burned marshmallows that fell onto the ground as they would lovingly prepared caramel sauce. That said, I wasn't going to send my son to the boy scout campout with burnt marshmallows. My assignment was a fruit salad, but all I had by way of fruit were apples and bananas and I really didn't want to make a run to the store (again--feeling that my efforts to accrue raspberries in October might be wasted on the adorable, yet perfectly clueless group of young boys). Still I wanted to dress our meager fruit offerings up with something. Something loving, something good, something that said, "You might not appreciate meticulously browned sugar, but I think you'll like this." And I did. And they did.

This dip is wonderfully easy, perfect for fall, and a crowd-pleaser. It's not really caramel at all (don't call it caramel to your foody friends; they'll mock you behind they're backs while they slurp oysters together). But there's something about it that tastes caramel-y. As such it's perfect to pair with apples or bananas. Especially at this time of year. I know that it feels a little like cheating. That's because it is a little like cheating. The thing is, sometimes with food it's okay to cheat (Warning: please do not try cheating with actual husbands, teachers, or the IRS; only food. Thank you.) Sometimes you're out of time, out of ingredients, or out of money (this is cheaper than real caramel too). Sometimes you just need something that says, "We're just going to relax and have fun tonight." That's an okay thing to say people; really it is.

And the fact is that this dip is delicious just how it is. So let it be and enjoy it. Call it Brown Sugar Dip if it makes you feel better about things. You can still make real caramel when the mood strikes or when you've got the time or an appreciative audience. But you don't have to tonight.

Cheaper Caramel Fruit Dip
from allrecipes
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cost: $1.35
cream cheese: 1.00, brown sugar: .35

8 oz cream cheese
1 C brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla

Beat it all together until smooth. If it's still grainy after 1 minute, let it sit for a couple minutes (the grainy bits will melt into the mixture) and then beat it again.


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