Our caramel apple elephant ears will take you back to the joy of fairs. They’ll take you back to times of innocence and simplicity. But most of all, they’ll take you to a place with endless possibilities, called Flavorville. You know, that place filled with butter and caramel and irresistible tastiness.Jump to Recipe
Our elephant ears are undeniably good because we aren’t afraid of butter (or calories). We brush them – lovingly – with butter before sprinkling on the cinnamon and sugar – and we are very liberal with it. Now, elephant ears are good on their own, but when you add our homemade apple pie filling and quick homemade caramel sauce, they are otherworldly.
One of the best parts about this recipe is that it is easy to make. Once the dough proofs, it fries in just a few minutes. And the caramel sauce is a quick recipe that takes less than 20 minutes to make. Likewise, while the apple pie filling takes about 15 minutes, there’s very little active cooking – you only need to stir it occasionally.
Also, if you are running short on time, you could buy bread dough, caramel sauce, and apple pie filling from the store. However, I don’t recommend it as it won’t be nearly as tasty. Especially not the apple pie filling. The homemade filling tastes much, much better. So, continue reading to find out how to make the most delicious elephant ears you’ve ever tasted.
There are three components to this recipe, so we decided to take three different ingredient images. In the image below, you will see all of the ingredients you need to make the elephant ear dough.
- All-purpose Flour
Next, there are the ingredients you will need to make the apple pie filling.
- Vanilla Extract
Finally, here are the ingredients that you will need for the quick caramel sauce.
- Heavy Cream
- Vanilla Extract
How to Make Elephant Ears
To make the elephant ear dough, you first need to add the milk, butter, sugar, and salt to a saucepan and bring the temperature between 105 and 110-degrees.
Next, you will need to stir the yeast into the milk, butter, and salt mixture. Then, let the mixture sit for 5 minutes until it is foamy and resembles the image below. This step is called proofing.
Now, pour that mixture into a mixing bowl, add flour. With the dough hook attachment, mix on low until the flour is completely incorporated. Then, increase the speed to high and mix for five minutes.
Cover, and let it rest 30 minutes or until the dough doubles in size. Then divide the dough into ten equal-sized portions and roll the dough out until it is a quarter-inch thick. Finally, transfer the rolled-out dough to a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet until you are ready to fry—Fry at 350-degrees for one to two minutes per side.
How to Make Apple Pie Filling
Next, let’s make the apple pie filling. First, peel and slice the apples and place them into a bowl. Toss the apples with lemon zest and lemon juice and set aside. Then, add the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, water, and salt to a medium pot. Cook on medium-high heat for five minutes or until you dissolve the sugar.
Add the sliced apples and cook on medium-low for eight to ten minutes or until apples are tender. Lastly, take a quarter cup of the liquid from the apple filling and add it to a separate bowl. Then mix in cornstarch until completely dissolved. Pour the cornstarch mixture back into the pot and cook for five minutes or until the sauce thickens. The finished product should look like the image below.
How to Make Quick Caramel Sauce
The last step is to make the caramel sauce.
Add the water and sugar to a small pot. Cook on medium until the sugar turns to a dark amber color. This process will take about 12 minutes.
Then add the butter and whisk until you melt it entirely.
Note: when you add the butter, the mixture will bubble up rapidly. So, be careful but continue to whisk.
Next, remove the caramel from the heat and add heavy cream while whisking until it is fully incorporated.
Finally, mix in the vanilla and salt and set aside.
You can easily change this caramel apple elephant ears recipe and make it your own. For example, in the images above, you see that we topped our elephant ears with ice cream and crumble topping. If you’re feeling frisky, you could even add some chocolate sauce. Or you could go in a different direction and add a cherry pie filling. The possibilities are limitless.
- Stand Mixer
- Deep Fryer (or other pot for frying)
- Food Thermometer
- Cooking Rack
- Paper Towel
Cooked elephant ears can last in the fridge for a couple of days, while your apple pie filling will last for up to two weeks. The caramel sauce has the most extended shelf life. It can last for three weeks in the fridge and up to three months in the freezer.
Keep safety your top priority when you fry food. Always keep a fire extinguisher nearby and never leave your station unattended.
As for the elephant ear itself, make sure that you brush on the butter. It helps the cinnamon/sugar stick to the fried dough. Now, it might end up a little darker than what you are used to because the cinnamon will be moist from the butter, but it will taste so decadent.
Caramel Apple Elephant Ear Recipe
- Deep Fryer or Pan for frying
- food thermometer
- Cooling Rack
- stand mixer
- 1 1/2 Cups 2% Milk
- 7 Tbsp Granulated Sugar Divided
- 1 Tsp Salt
- 10 Tbsp Unsalted Butter Divided
- 2 Tbsp Yeast
- 4 Cups All Purpose Flour
- 2 Tbsp Ground Cinnamon
Apple Pie Filling
- 4 Apples 2 Granny Smith & 2 Gala
- 1 Tsp Lemon Zest
- 2 Tsp Lemon Juice
- 1 Cup Granulated Sugar
- 1 Tsp Ground Cinnamon
- 1/4 Tsp Nutmeg
- 1/4 Tsp Salt
- 2 Cups Water
- 3 Tbsp Cornstarch
- 1/4 Cup Water
- 1 Cup Granulated Sugar
- 1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
- 1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
- 6 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
- Pinch of Salt
- Add the milk, 2 tablespoons sugar, salt, and 6 tablespoons butter to a small pot. Heat on low until it reaches between 105 and 110 degrees. Add the yeast and let it sit for 5 minutes until the mixture is foamy.
- Add the warm milk and flour into the stand mixer bowl. Attach the dough hook attachment and start the mixer at the lowest speed. Mix until the flour is incorporated. Then turn the mixer on high and knead the dough for 5 minutes. Cover the dough for 30 minutes or until it has doubled in size.
- Divide the dough into 10 balls. Roll out each ball to ¼ inch thick and place it on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Set aside until ready to fry.
- Use a deep pot or dutch oven filled with 2 inches of oil (about 4 cups). Preheat the oil to 375 degrees and fry the elephant ears for 1-2 minutes per side. (They will puff up while cooking) Transfer it to a cooling rack lined with a paper towel.
Apple Filling Steps
- In a medium bowl, peel and dice the apples, add the lemon juice and lemon zest. Stir until all the apples are covered. Set aside.
- In a medium pot, add the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, water, and salt. Cook on medium-high heat for about 5 minutes until the sugar dissolves. Add the diced apples and cook on medium-low for 8-10 minutes. Or until the apples are tender.
- Take about ¼ cup of the liquid in a separate bowl and mix in the cornstarch until completely dissolved. Pour it back into the pot and cook for about 5 minutes or until the sauce has thickened.
- Add the water and sugar to a small pot. Cook on medium until the sugar turns a dark amber color. It can take about 12 minutes.
- Add the butter and whisk until completely melted. It will bubble up rapidly, so be careful and continue to whisk.
- Remove the caramel from the heat and add heavy cream. Whisking continuously until all of the cream has been incorporated. Add the vanilla and salt. Set aside.
Putting It All Together
- In a small bowl, melt 4 tablespoons of butter. In another small bowl mix 5 tablespoons of sugar and 2 tablespoons of cinnamon. Brush each elephant ear with melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar mixture. Top with the apple filling and drizzle on the caramel sauce.
- If the dough feels sticky or too wet, add a little more flour and knead again until the flour is incorporated.
- I would recommend an oven mitt when you add the butter to the caramel. The steam is very hot.
- Store the apple filling in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 7 days or freeze for 2 months.
- Store the caramel sauce in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 weeks or freeze for up to 3 months.