Caramel Apples

Homemade caramel apples are a fun treat to make with kids for Halloween or any fall-themed party.

Caramel Apples by FamilySpice.com

October treats are always fun to create and eat! There are literally thousands of options that you can find all over the internet. Treats for kids is even more fun to bake up because you can really let those creative juices fly. Create an edible cemetery using chocolate graham cookies as headstones and green dyed coconut for grass… Make spider cupcakes using licorice for legs and the cupcake for a body. Why not orange hued rice krispie treats? Pumpkin shaped cakes and so many other fun ideas. But, I’m feeling nostalgic and retro this year. So this weekend, the kids and I prepared another fab October treat: Caramel Apples.

The idea of bobbing for apples is now out of the pictures. Who wants kids slobbering over a bucket full of apples and water licking up each other’s spit from failed attempts? Hello? Swine flu anyone? So, I figured the next best thing would be to make a candy apple treat. I went online and read over many recipes. You can to get the caramel just right or it would slip off the apple. Great. That sounded encouraging.

I decided to finally invest in a $10 candy thermometer, started with a trusty Bon Apétit recipe and dove right in.

I made these for my neighbor’s son’s birthday party. They were going to be given out to the kids as their parting treat. She requested 28 caramel apples. Hmmm.. Okay. Because of the large number of apples we were making, we went with Red Delicious (they were on sale and made this project very reasonably priced). I had sturdy lollipop sticks in my pantry (from a phase I went through hoping to make candy, but never did). I shoved each stick into the core of the apple. Easy enough.

Next you combine brown sugar, butter, sweetened condensed milk, dark corn syrup, maple syrup, vanilla extract and salt in a large heavy bottomed pot. The recipe called for 1 tsp molasses (which I was actually out of!) and we didn’t want to buy an $8 bottle for 1 teaspoon of sweet goodness, so I added an extra tsp of maple syrup.

You slowly boil this caramel goo until it reaches 236ºF. I felt like a witch stirring up my latest potion. I stood over the pot making sure it didn’t harden up on me or blow up! I cackled to myself, for good measure and I was getting in the Halloween spirit! My kids would check up on me and see how Mommy was doing – she was cracking up, but it smelled delicious!

The boys soon lost interest and chose to play video games. My sweet princess, though begged to help.

Caramel Apples by FamilySpice.com

I finally got to 236ºF and I turned the heat off. As instructed, I poured my concoction into a metal bowl to cool to 200ºF. After standing and watching over my brew so carefully when it was boiling, I thought it would take longer to cool off. NOPE! I think it took 10 minutes, maybe less. I walked away and by the time I came back it was under 200ºF.

I quickly grabbed my apples and started dipping. If you let the caramel cool too much, it won’t stick to the apples (as I discovered with the last few apples I needed to dip). I lined up the caramel-dipped apples onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet and put it in the refrigerator to cool 15 minutes.

Caramel Apples by FamilySpice.com

Now this is where it gets tricky. I didn’t think the apples would stick so well to the parchment paper, so I used a knife to help separate it from the paper. The caramel was still soft enough to shape the bottom of the apple and smooth the caramel out. My lovely assistant and I then rolled the apples into dozens of different sprinkles. And for 28 apples, we used up a lot of sprinkles!!! I started off with my Halloween stockpile, followed by chocolate sprinkles and birthday confetti. I had a couple Valentine apples, pink-red combos, that I knew girls at the party would be happy to snatch up! The last 4 or 5 were rolled in chopped peanuts.

I had plenty of caramel left over (I doubled the recipe), but I couldn’t dip anymore. The caramel wouldn’t stick to the apples. It had cooled too much. I was too hot and sweaty and didn’t feel like heating the caramel up again. 28 was enough. WHEW! I returned the candied apples to the refrigerator until it was time to wrap them up!

The apples turned out totally cute and of course, delicious. The kids were excited to see their treats and the end of the party. We had to keep them in a cooler, because our afternoon was a bit warm and the caramel was started to melt. But, gooey treats are an added bonus when it comes to kids!

My next project? What am I going to dress up as for Halloween??? My kids want me to be Princess Leia. Really?

Caramel Apples

Celebrate fall with this classic apple treat. Decorate with Halloween sprinkles, nuts or chocolate sprinkles. Recipe adapted from Bon Appétit, October 1999

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb brown sugar, dark, room temperature
  • 1 cup butter, unsalted
  • 14 oz sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp molasses
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup corn syrup, dark
  • 12 medium apples, unwaxed with stem removed
  • 12 sturdy lollipop sticks

Directions:

  1. In an thick bottomed 3-quart stock pot combine:
    • 1 lb brown sugar, dark , room temperature
    • 1 cup butter, unsalted
    • 14 oz sweetened condensed milk
    • 1/3 cup maple syrup
    • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
    • 1 tsp molasses
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 2/3 cup corn syrup, dark
  2. Stir with a wooden spoon on medium-low heat until all the sugar dissolves. There should be no grittiness (sugar crystals) when you test by rubbing a little of the caramel between your fingers.
  3. Brush down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush to dissolve any sugar crystals that might form on the pan sides.
  4. Attach a clip-on candy thermometer to the pan and cook caramel at a rolling boil until the thermometer reaches 236°F, stirring constantly and slowly with a wooden spatula.
  5. Continue to occasionally brush the sides down with a pastry brush.
  6. Carefully pour caramel into a metal bowl.
  7. Cool until the temperature lowers to 200°F, at which point you are ready to dip the apples.
  8. While the caramel is cooking and cooling, prepare a large baking sheet, covering it either with buttered aluminum foil, parchment paper or silicone baking mat.
  9. Place on prepared baking sheet:
    • 12 medium apples , unwaxed with stem removed
  10. Insert into each apple, about 2-inches, starting from the top and pushing down into the apple core:
    • 12 sturdy lollipop sticks
  11. When the caramel has cooled enough for dipping (to 200ºF), dip the apples in, one by one, by holding on to the stick, and vertically lowering the apple into the caramel, submerging all but the very top of the apple.
  12. Pull the apple up from the caramel and let the excess caramel drip off from the bottom back into the metal bowl.
  13. Then place the dipped apple back onto the aluminum foil, parchment paper or silicone baking mat.
  14. The caramel will pool a little at the bottom of each apple.
  15. Place into the refrigerator to chill for at least 15 minutes.
  16. Once the caramel has chilled a bit, remove from the refrigerator and use your fingers to press the caramel that has dripped to the bottom of the apples, back on to the apples.
  17. Then take whatever coatings you want and press them into the apples for decoration.
  18. Return to the refrigerator to chill for at least one hour.

Notes:

Serving Suggestions: If giving as gifts, place apples into small plastic gift bags (found in craft stores or party stores) and tie bag shut to the lollipop stick using ribbon or raffia. Don't have molasses? Substitute with 1 tsp honey, 1 tsp maple syrup or 1 1/2 tsp brown sugar

Prep Time:

Yield: 12 servings

Cook Time:

Total Time:

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