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Making Caramel Apples:
Recently my daughter in law Crystal, asked if I could figure out how to get the caramel to stay on the apples, would I do a post about Caramel Apples? Sure, why not. It’s been years since I’ve made these delicious creations. When I lived in the Phoenix area recently, there was a booth at the Costco we frequented that had the most delicious looking caramel apples I’d seen. I’ve been know to stop as I’ve walked by a Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory Store when they’ve been dipping apples and watched in fascination as they make it look so easy. And it is…….sort of.
Let me start at the beginning…
Last weekend I went to help my sister as she taught a French Bread and Nutty Butter Horns class to a large group of women. On the way home I was stopping at one of my sons and his family and thought “What a fun activity this would be before Halloween!” I could do a family activity, have my daughter in-laws help and be able to document it for a blog post…..and we’d be able to teach Crystal how to do it. Right?
I didn’t count on getting 4 hours of sleep the night before, not only helping with the class(es), there were two, but also helping with the funeral lunch preparations that were also happening that day that my sister was overseeing. When I got to her house she was making huge batches of funeral potatoes(yes, there is such a recipe) and we cut about 8 hams as well. (I was glad to help and make her job lighter). I just didn’t count on not sleeping.
The day got longer…..
By the time I drove, stopped to pick up apples and a few other things, I was tired. As we started to set up, I realized we didn’t have vanilla extract. Could I skip it? No, my daughter in law Kelsey said, you need it. I went back to the store. Don’t you hate that, especially since while I was at the store the first time the thought crossed my mind to text Hayley, (my other daughter in-law) to see if she had vanilla. As I was driving, I was reminded by a talk that was playing on a CD, about Prayer. I needed one, and needed to ask that the 4 hours of sleep the night before could now feel like 8…..and that this activity could be fun and bring us closer together. I stopped the car, took a few minutes and with tears rolling down my cheeks went back to the house.
And yes, it worked, I re-centered, thought about perspective and Kelsey reminded me it didn’t have to be perfect. We really did have fun.
As my grandson sat eating sprinkles from the counter he smiled and said, “This is yummy”.
Caramel Apples are beautiful to look at and really, a lot of fun to make.
Here’s a list of things to have, some of which I did and some I which I wish I had:
- Apples: I used Granny Smith and Honey Crisp , both nice, firm, round apples… a lot 15-20
- A great caramel recipe
(I used this one because she had made 7 batches to get this one…tried and tested and it was great…it makes enough for at least 15 apples)
- Chocolate Chips (white, milk and dark if you want all three…..depends on your taste.) I would use packaged ones. I brought very good dipping chocolate and it slid off the apples, except when we drizzled it from bottles
- Lots of variety of toppings:
– chopped peanuts and walnuts; crushed Oreos (leave some chunks); dried chopped cranberries; lots and lots of sprinkles in festive colors (purple, black, orange, yellow, white…..) as well as some nonpareils; black and white ghosts, shredded coconut, Reese’s peanuts butter pieces(small is nice); crushed graham crackers and so many more. (here) and (here) had some great ideas.
- Wood Dowels (with pointed ends) or Wood Craft Sticks (popsicle type)
- Parchment paper (caramel sticks to wax paper or foil, trust me)
- Candy Thermometer (or cup of cold water and spoon…read up on caramel soft ball stage)
- Cookie Sheets – if they can fit in your freezer that would be great.
- Paper bowls (or foam) You need a lot of containers for your toppings
- Heavy bottom large saucepan
- Wisk and spatula
- Clear Cellophane (to wrap your creations) and seasonal ribbon
- We even covered some of the dowels with Halloween Washi Tape, but not necessary
- Some fun family and friends:)
- Find an area (or kitchen) that you can really spread out in
- Get things organized.. Once the caramel is ready things start to move really quickly and that’s not the time to get organized. Put toppings in bowls, parchment paper cut and ready. Cookie sheets in the freezer (if you can).
- Wash the apples in hot water with a scrubber and a few drops of detergent. You need to remove the wax from the apples. I even read some lightly sand their apples. We didn’t and the caramel stuck just fine. Remove stems and push the sticks into the apples (bottom or top)
- Start by melting the butter in the large saucepan on medium high. ( see photos)
- Once butter is melted add the brown sugar, corn syrup, sweetened condensed milk and salt.
- Continue to cook, whisking constantly until the temperature reaches soft ball stage (234) The one we used stopped working at 215 so I went old school with a cup of cold water and a spoon, dipping the spoon into the caramel and letting it drop into the cold water. Pick it out of the water and feel if it’s forming into a soft ball….worked just great.
- Remove from heat, and whisk in cream and vanilla. Let the mixture cool for a few minutes. We thought we did, and it was sliding off the first apple we tried. Cooled a bit more and it was great. When we had done 10 apples it was cooling and we just heated it up a bit more and it worked fine again. Like I said, this is a great recipe, no sugaring or anything.
- While tilting the pot to the side (see picture) take an apple and holding it with the stick, roll it in the caramel, hold it a bit higher when it’s covered and keep turning it so the caramel drips but stays on the apple. Place on parchment paper on a cold cookie sheet. (see photos)
- Continue with other apples. Once they’re cooler (you don’t want them too cool or the toppings won’t stick, you can roll them in some of the toppings, if you want just caramel on the base.
- While you are dipping the apples in caramel, have your lovely assistants melt the chocolate chips in the microwave, stirring every 20 seconds or so. If you want to “drizzle” chocolate over the apples, put melted chocolate in plastic frosting bottles, or a zip loc bag and cut one corner off a little bit.
- Roll the apples in chocolate, letting it drip and cool slightly before dipping in toppings.
- Make a big mess and have a lot of fun
- Cut cellophane in squares and wrap your candy apples and tie with a cute ribbon. Give away most of them…….it’s hard to eat more than one.
We did try cutting our apples in eighths, soaking them in water with salt, drying them and dipping them as I saw on Craftberry Bush, but the caramel would only stick to the side with peel on them still. But the chocolate stuck just fine. (See photos)
It did what I wanted…..we had fun, Kelsey did a great job taking pictures and very few were close to perfect, but what looks like a potential Pinterest fail, was actually a great success! Enjoy!