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Caramel Apples to Celebrate Fall

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! Even though my kids are getting older, they still look forward to the hokey halloween goodies that I come up with each year. Caramel Apples are one classic Halloween treat that you see this time of year. There is something about this sweet and sour combination that makes your mouth water for more.

The first time I made caramel apples was 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, but you can also use sturdy sticks for a more rustic look.

Making Caramel for Caramel Apples by FamilySpice.com

Homemade caramel might be a bit intimidating to make. Candy making means you have to pay attention or you can burn the whole batch and have to start again. So invest in a candy thermometer!

Combine the 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, but since I didn’t have any, I added an extra tsp of maple syrup.

You slowly boil this caramel goo until it reaches 236ºF. Again, invest in a candy thermometer!

Dipping Apples in Caramel for Caramel Apples by FamilySpice.com

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 losing it, but hey, it smelled delicious! The boys soon lost interest and returned to playing video games. My sweet princess, though begged to help.

After the caramel reached 236ºF, I turned the heat off. As instructed, I poured my concoction into a metal bowl so the caramel could 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. So again, pay attention!

Making Caramel for Caramel Apples by FamilySpice.com

I quickly grabbed my apples and began 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.

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.

My girl dipping caramel apples in sprinkles by FamilySpice.com

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!

Making Caramel for Caramel Apples by FamilySpice.com

The apples turned out ridiculously cute and of course, delicious. The kids were excited to see their treats at the end of the party.

My next project? What am I going to dress up as for Halloween??? My kids want me to be Princess Leia. Um, 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 dark brown sugar
  • 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 dark corn syrup
  • 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: