I have always loved caramel apples. If I could, I would order them for myself from those fancy online sites and have them shipped to me on a monthly basis. My local grocer even started carrying "gourmet" caramel apples... at ten dollars a pop!! Since neither of these scenarios are practical I decided to make my own so I can have them whenever I wish.
You can unwrap and melt individual caramels, but to me that's just too much work, unwrapping all those tiny little squares, and homemade is just better. And once you go homemade, you'll never go back. I made my own caramel, which is not as hard as people seem to think, and the results were amazingly delicious.
I used Granny Smith apples because I like the tartness of them against the sweetness of the caramel, but you can use any type of apple that you prefer. I made 10 apples and had two jars of caramel left over, so you could easily make probably 20-25 caramel apples with this amount of caramel.
A few tips before you just jump into making the caramel...
Prep everything else you will need so that you're ready to go when the caramel is done. You don't want your caramel just sitting there while you do all of this; the caramel firms up quite quickly and you want your toppings to adhere:
- Wash and dry your apples, insert wooden skewers/lollipop sticks, and place in the refrigerator to keep them cold. It's better to dip a cold apple than a room temperature one.
- Line a large rimmed baking sheet with waxed paper and spray the waxed paper with non-stick spray.
- Crush up toppings that need crushing that you will roll your caramel apples in and just place others that do not need crushing on plates. I used honey roasted peanuts (crushed), Toblerone (crushed), M&M's, Halloween sprinkles, candy corn, and chocolate chips (mini). Use any candy you like or pretzels or other nuts. I used paper plates to put each of the candies/nuts on.
- If you are going to dip in melted chocolate then you want to get that ready to go as well. I used the candy melts that you can find at Michael's. They are so easy to use and you can melt them in the microwave. What I did was dumped them into glass Pyrex bowls so they were ready to be microwaved. They melt in about 2 minutes, so by the time you dip your apple in the caramel, sit it on the waxed paper and melt your chocolates then they will be ready to dip in the chocolate.
Granny Smith apples
2 sticks butter, salted
1 stick butter, unsalted
2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar (light or dark, doesn't matter)
1 14-ounce can sweetened, condensed milk
1 cup dark corn syrup
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
Wooden skewers or lollipop sticks
Variety of candies and nuts
Clear cellophane wrap/bags
In a heavy 3-4 quart saucepan melt the butter over low heat. Add the sugars and stir slowly until well combined.
I love the way that looks! :)
Increase heat to medium. Stir in the sweetened, condensed milk and the corn syrup. Continue stirring until well combined.
Increase heat to medium high, continue stirring until mixture starts to boil. Once it starts to boil clip a candy thermometer to the saucepan (don't let it touch the bottom of the pan) and reduce heat back to medium. Here are different stages of how it will look as it gets to the full boiling stage. It takes approximately 30 minutes from this point to the end. Just keep stirring and inhale all that deliciousness. I want to bottle up that scent and have it in my house all year long :)
The final temperature you are looking for is 234-240 degrees (soft ball stage).
Once you've reached the proper stage remove saucepan from heat and stir in vanilla. Let the caramel sit for about 5 minutes and then begin dipping.
If rolling in candies/nuts then do so right after dipping and then place on prepared waxed paper. If dipping in melted chocolate, let apple rest on waxed paper for a few minutes before dipping in chocolate, then roll in your prepared candies/nuts. Place each apple on prepared waxed paper as you finish each one.
Allow to cool for several hours and then wrap and place in refrigerator. They should keep for about a week. I wrapped mine in clear cellophane bags and tied them with some cute fall ribbons.
And just jar up any leftover caramel to warm up and drizzle over ice cream or dip fruit in later on!
Until next time...
Lady by the Bay