Caramel Apples

Caramel ApplesBoo Humbug
I don’t know what Halloween will be like in your neck of the woods, but where I live there will be no trick or treating. It’s beyond disappointing, especially for the kids. But, I get it. That doesn’t make it any less depressing. As the mother of a kid who is not handling the isolation well, it’s just one more item to add to the list of things she has looked forward to that have now been taken away during this pandemic. No getting around it. The whole situation stinks…

In talking with friends and neighbors I have heard different ideas on how to still make Halloween fun while keeping everyone safe. Some are planning social distanced “pod” parties with costumes. Others are buying the King Size candy to give to the kids next door. And for others it’s just a regular Saturday night…maybe with a horror movie on demand. For me I see this as an opportunity to do something for Halloween that I have always wanted to do, but just wasn’t practical.

love caramel apples and I have always wanted to be “that house” that gave out the really cool caramel apples to kids on Halloween but haven’t for a few reasons. First, most parents aren’t too cool with their kids getting the homemade treats in their candy bags. This is mainly because you just don’t know what’s in them or if they are safe. I totally get it and have been guilty of making my kids toss those items ‘cause I’m not sure about them.

Second, who has that much time? In a regular year I’m lucky if I remember to stock up on fun size Snickers and Reese’s in between Halloween concerts and sporting events. Also, making caramel apples requires a decent amount of caramel and whether you unwrap all of those little caramels and melt them or make your own, it’s labor intensive. Lastly I have come to the realization that while I have Martha Stewart tendencies I am not, in fact, she. The thought alone makes me tired.

If ever there was a year to make caramel apples, it’s this Halloween. I would only do it for the kids in my neighborhood that I know really well which has the added bonus of limiting the number I need to make. It would be like my version of the king sized candy bar. You could add marshmallows and chocolate chips or even some cute Halloween sprinkles. Wrap them up in Halloween cello bags and it’s a fun tasty treat. The bonus, of course, is that any extra caramel can be used to dip apple slices for a treat of your own….

Caramel Apples
Adapted from the Food Network
Yields 6 servings (6 apples)

You will need a candy thermometer to measure the temperature of the caramel. And, candy apple sticks are available in many supermarkets.

2 cups sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Kosher salt
6 medium very crisp apples, washed and dried
Nonstick cooking spray, for the parchment
6 candy apple sticks

Make the caramel
Add the sugar, corn syrup, and 1/2 cup of water to a small saucepan and place it over medium-high heat. Stir a few times as the sugar begins to melt to combine the ingredients.

Attach a candy thermometer to the inside of the pan and bring the syrup to a boil. Cook until the syrup begins to turn an amber color, then swirl the syrup to even out the color. Continue to cook until the syrup is a deep amber and the thermometer reads between 375º F and 380º F. Remove the syrup remove from the heat.

Carefully pour in the cream and gently whisk to combine. Stir in the butter, vanilla, and a pinch of salt until smooth. Leave the thermometer attached to the pan.

Candy the apples
Using the candy apple sticks, pierce the apples about halfway through the ends with the stems. Line a baking sheet with parchment and lightly spray with nonstick cooking spray.

Cool the caramel until the temperature on the thermometer reads around 190 ºF. Using the stick as a handle, dip an apple into the caramel and swirl it around to coat the apple completely. Allow the excess caramel to drip off the bottom and clean up any blobs of caramel with a rubber spatula so it doesn’t pool around the base of the candy apple.

Set the apple down to cool on the lined baking sheet and repeat with the remaining apples. If the caramel cools so much that it is too thick for dipping, gently heat it on the stove top over low heat, stirring continuously. Check that the thermometer reads around 190º F before dipping more apples.

If you wish to add toppings, you can dip the apples in mini chocolate chips, shredded coconut, chopped nuts, or other small candies immediately after coating the apples with caramel. If you wish to drizzle them with melted chocolate, wait until the caramel is completely cool.

Allow the caramel to set and cool completely before serving or wrapping apples (about 1 hour).

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