The Southern Living Test Kitchen's sweet spin on caramel apples

We’ve got nothing but love for apple pie. And caramel apples? Don’t mess with ’em. But every once in a while, we’ll stumble upon something that shakes our fall apple repertoire to its core (pun very much intended). Right now, that something is fantans.

A fantan is not a muffin. It is not a roll. It is not a tart. A fantan is the Southern Living Test Kitchen’s gloriously gooey marriage of dough and filling that conveniently replaces your morning pastry, afternoon snack and dessert. They start with yeasty dough rolled thin, stacked, and sliced into layered squares; when baked, they bloom into fan shapes, revealing their inner treasure of apples, raisins, pecans and cinnamon. Drizzle them with warm, sticky caramel, and you’ve got a reason to head back to the orchard.

Ingredients:

Dough

1 (1/4-oz.) envelope active dry yeast

1 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees F)

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

1 large egg

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup butter, melted

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 to 2 cups bread flour

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

Filling

9 tablespoons butter, softened and divided

3 cups peeled and diced Braeburn apples (about 3 large)

1/2 cup golden raisins

1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

3/4 cup chopped toasted pecans

Glaze

1/3 cup butter

1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

Preparation:

1. Prepare dough: Combine first 3 ingredients in bowl of a heavy-duty electric stand mixer; let stand 5 minutes. Stir in egg, next 3 ingredients, and 1 1/2 cups bread flour. Beat at medium speed, using paddle attachment, 1 minute or until smooth. Gradually beat in whole wheat flour and enough remaining bread flour to make a soft dough.

2. Turn dough out onto a well-floured surface, and knead until smooth and elastic (6 to 8 minutes), sprinkling surface with bread flour as needed. Place dough in a lightly greased large bowl, turning to grease top. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place (about 85 degrees F), free from drafts, 45 to 55 minutes or until doubled in bulk.

3. Meanwhile, prepare filling: Melt 1 Tbsp. butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add apples and next 2 ingredients, and sauté 4 to 5 minutes or until apples are crisp-tender. Cool completely (about 30 minutes).

4. Punch dough down; turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll into a 20-by-12-inch rectangle. Spread remaining 8 Tbsp. softened butter over dough. Stir together 3/4 cup granulated sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over butter, and top with pecans and apple mixture.

5. Cut dough into 5 (12- x 4-inch) strips; stack dough strips. Replace any apples and pecans that fall out. Cut stack into 6 (4- x 2-inch) rectangles; cut each rectangle in half crosswise to form 12 (2-inch) squares. Place stacked squares, cut sides up, into cups of a lightly greased 12-cup muffin pan. Cover loosely with plastic wrap; let rise in a warm place (about 85 degrees F), free from drafts, 45 minutes to 1 hour or until rolls rise about 3/4 inch above rim of pan.

6. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Bake 18 to 20 minutes or until deep golden brown. Cool in pan on a wire rack 5 minutes. Remove from pan to a wire rack.

7. Prepare glaze: Bring 1/3 cup butter and 1/3 cup brown sugar to a boil in a 1-qt. heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly; boil 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; drizzle over top of warm rolls.