Bobbing for apples, candied apples, and especially caramel apples always make me think of autumn and harvest festivals and Halloween. Clearly all this apple-y goodness is because apples are in season! And these seasonal treats not only bring up fond childhood memories, but make any gathering feel festive and of-the-season.
Making caramel apples isn’t hard, as long as you follow a few simple steps:
- Make sure you rinse your apples in hot water to remove any wax, then dry them thoroughly.
- The apples should be at room temperature before dipping.
- Choose smaller apples, and ideally a tart variety to offset the sweetness from the caramel.
- Make sure you use sturdy lollipop sticks, popsicle sticks, or even wooden chopsticks to plunge into the apple core for easy lifting.
Once you dip your apple, you can leave it as is with just a caramel sheen or dip into chopped toasted nuts (like peanuts, pecans, or almonds), mini chocolate chips, or even sprinkles. Make sure you set out a bowl of whatever you want to dip the apple in before you start dipping, and roll the freshly-dipped apple into the bowl of ingredients while the caramel is still warm so the ingredients will stick.
To make individual caramel apple gifts, wrap each apple individually in wax paper and tie it with a ribbon. (Make sure to refrigerate after the apples set; they can be made up to 1 day in advance.)
You’ll have a little leftover caramel which can be used for warm caramel sauce over ice cream, or pour it into a small greased pan and let it set, then cut it into caramels and wrap each one individually with wax paper (a great treat to give out at Halloween as well!).
Halloween Caramel Apples
Makes 12 apples
- 12 medium apples (not cold, at room temp)
- 12 popsicle sticks or lollipop sticks
- 2 cups brown sugar
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 3/4 cup dark corn syrup
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- Rinse the apples in hot water, then dry them thoroughly. Place on a parchment or silicone mat lined baking sheet. If the apples don’t sit flat, slice a little off the bottom to make them sit flat. Push the sticks into the stems of the apples.
- In a deep, heavy saucepan over medium heat, stir together the sugar, cream, corn syrup, butter, vanilla, and salt. Cook, swirling the pan occasionally, until the mixture is thick and syrupy and registers 245F (or “soft ball” stage) on a candy thermometer.
- Pour the mixture into a small but deep metal bowl and set aside to cool to about 200F.
- Grease the lined parchment or silicone. Holding the stick, dip each apple into the caramel, letting the excess drip off, and then return to the lined baking sheet. Let set at least 15 minutes.
- If you are not serving the apples right away, make sure to cover and refrigerate them for up to 1 day before serving.