Since Halloween is coming up this Monday, I wanted to share my all-time favourite Halloween treat. My mother and I made them when I was a kid, and we gave them out to trick-or-treaters. Those days are gone, but the nostalgia still lives on.
Caramel apples are a super versatile treat. They are crunchy, creamy and delicious. Eat them plain or enjoy them with various toppings, like peanuts, melted chocolate, cookie crumbs, marshmallows or other delectable treats.
Before we begin, I want to warn you that making these can get quite messy and be prepared for a complete kitchen clean-up, but trust me, it’s worth the mess.
Apples that work best for this recipe are crunchy, firm apples, like granny smith, fuji or even my favourite honey crisp! Choose a small to medium-sized apple that is firm and round, with no soft spots.
After your apples are selected, you will need:
-a candy thermometer
– a heavy-bottomed saucepan
– a wooden spoon
– strong wooden sticks: we will be stabbing these into the apples, and they will act as the handle for the apple
– a pastry brush: to push the sauce down into the pan and remove the excess caramel from the apples
8–9 cold apples
1 and 3/4 cups (420ml) heavy cream
1 cup (240ml) light corn syrup
2 cups (400g) packed light or dark brown sugar
1/4 cup (4 Tablespoons; 60g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Wash the apples thoroughly. Scrub them to remove as much wax coating off as possible to help the caramel stick better. (organic apples with no wax coating might work nicely for this too).
Remove the apple stem so that the stick can be inserted into the apple easily later.
- Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat. Or grease the baking sheet with butter.
DO NOT use wax paper or parchment paper, as the caramel will stick to it.
Make the Caramel dip:
- Combine the heavy cream, corn syrup, brown sugar, butter, and salt in a 3-quart heavy-duty saucepan over medium heat.
Do not turn the temperature up or down– keep it at medium the entire time the caramel cooks.
Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the butter is melted.
Once melted, brush down the sides of the pan with a water-moistened pastry brush and attach a candy thermometer to the pan, making sure the bulb is not touching the bottom of the pan (as you’ll get an inaccurate reading).
- Without stirring, let the mixture cook and bubble until it reaches between 235°F – 240°F.
Reaching this temperature should take about 15 – 20 minutes, though don’t use time as your guide because it depends on your stove.
Don’t be alarmed if your caramel is taking longer. Just use the candy thermometer as your guide.
The temperature will heat up slowly, then move quickly, so keep your eye on the pot.
Once at 235°F – 240°F, remove the caramel from the heat and stir in the vanilla.
Avoid over-stirring, which can create air bubbles in the caramel (and then on the apple).
Allow caramel to cool for 10-15 minutes until slightly thickened.
If caramel is too thin to coat apples, let it cool and thicken for 5-10 minutes longer.
Dip the Apples:
- Holding the caramel apple stick, dip the apple into the warm caramel, tilting the pot as needed to coat all sides of the apple.
Lift the apple up and swirl it around or gently tap it against the pot’s side to let excess caramel drip off.
***After dipping the apple in the caramel. If using extra toppings, place toppings on a shallow pile on a plate and roll the apple around in the toppings.
Place coated apples on the prepared pan.
Repeat with remaining apples.
Enjoy immediately or allow caramel to set about 45-60 minutes.
If you want to wrap the caramel apples in cellophane treat bags for travel/gifting, wait until the caramel has been completely set.
- Once completely cooled for displaying or serving, place the apples on wax paper or another nonstick surface.
Even when the caramel has been completely set, caramel apples may slightly stick to a serving dish.
To eat a caramel apple, you can bite right into it or sit it upright on a cutting board and cut slices around the stick. (Or pull out the stick and slice.) These are great for sharing!
- Loosely cover and store the leftover dipped apples in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
How to clean a sticky saucepan:
It’s not always easy or fun, but I have a helpful solution! When you’re finished making sticky caramel, simply fill the dirty saucepan with water until the water covers all of the candy residue. Place the saucepan on the stove over low heat. Let the warm water simmer and melt the sugar off the sides of the pan. Pour out the warm water, then let the tools sit until cool enough to handle. Rinse clean.
DO NOT double Batch:
I don’t recommend halving, doubling, or tripling candy recipes, especially this caramel.
Increasing or decreasing the quantity may work for baking, but the extra or decreased volume could prevent the candy from cooking properly.
Make separate batches instead.