One of my favorite things about Fall is the food associated with the season and what could look more Fall-festive than caramel apples? Now I know that I typically try to wax eloquent about cooking and eating healthy but of course we want to be balanced in making some fun foods to celebrate certain events so I typically make these just once a year, during the Fall. I think people can be intimidated by working with anything that requires using a candy thermometer but once you give these a go, you'll see that like in the Wizard of Oz, the voice behind the curtain was really nothing to be scared of at all.
Some keys for success: 1. Make sure your apples are waxless, the hot caramel can slide right off due to the wax coating, buying apples at the Farmer's Market will ensure there's no wax on the apples or you can gently wash and brush the apples under some hot water to get the wax off 2. Patience. The caramel takes a while to hit the right temperature so just make sure you keep your eye on it but don't be tempted to turn up the heat to speed up the process 3. Work fast. Once the caramel is ready, you'll want to dip each apple as quickly as possible. Prepping your apples beforehand (washing, drying, and "stick-ing" them) is essential.
The combination of a tart and crisp apple teamed up with a rich and chewy caramel coating is a winning pair, put that all on a stick and you've got yourself a tasty treat that will make everyone feel like a kid again.
For about 8 large apples you'll need:
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 3/4 cup light corn syrup
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- wooden dowels
- candy thermometer
Cook 3/4 cup of the cream, the corn syrup, butter, and sugar in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. It is important to use a pot that has a thick bottom or else the caramel will scorch. Every once in a while give the pot a whirl or two but you won't need to stir it. Cook until the thermometer reads 265 degrees, remove from heat and carefully swirl in the remaining 1/4 cup of cream and the vanilla, this will cause the mixture to bubble up so make sure you still have room in the pot before adding this last bit. Be super careful, getting a caramel burn will kill! Working fast, dip in the apples, letting any excess drip off and place on your non-stick surface. Let cool for a few hours then package as desired.
I like to use wooden dowel sticks for the apples, you can find these for cheap at your local craft store. They typically are long so I just cut them in half with a scissor and push them cut side in. You can use any kind of apple you want, I personally like a tart and tangy apple to balance the sweet caramel, so anything like a Granny Smith, Empire, or MacIntosh is good. Also, if you have Silpats, use these to place your apples on. If you don't know what Silpats are, Google it, then go get some! They are one of my most invaluable baking tools and the apples come off easily when using them. You can use parchment or wax paper (make sure you have a light coating of non-stick spray on it) but even that can sometimes leave behind some paper on the bottom of your apples.
What it starts out looking like. It will take a while for it to start caramelizing, during this stage you'll wonder if it will ever brown.
Then slowly but surely it does
Grandpa doing a taste test and Jet wondering why he's not sharing
Voila! Happiness on a stick