Caramel-ApplesChocolate Covered Caramel Apples with an Almond Bark DrizzleCaramel apples are a special treat and a fabulous gift. They are not hard. All you need is some good quality apples and some caramel candies or a caramel recipe.  Caramel candies are straightforward and foolproof but it’s a bit of pain to have to unwrap all those caramels.  It’s easy to make caramel from scratch; it costs less, and takes about as much time. 

The ones in the pictures were dipped in caramel, then chocolate, and drizzled with almond bark. But use your imagination. How about caramel apples rolled in candy bits or chopped pecans? 
We carry a line of candy bark-candy pieces and white chocolate in various flavors.  It’s luscious and the candy pieces carry a lot of flavor.  These make absolutely fantastic candy apples. 


What you’ll need
Individually wrapped caramels or caramel recipe
Apples
Chocolate for coating
Craft Sticks
White chocolate (optional)
Nuts, candies, or sprinkles (optional)

Method #1: Melting Caramel Candies

caramels

Directions
If you use store-bought caramels, the little square kind that come individually wrapped, it’s easy to make gorgeous caramel apples. Here’s how

  1. Use about 14-16 ounces (or 1 lb) of individually wrapped square caramels for 5 large or 6 medium-sized apples. Add 2 tablespoons of water to the melting caramels.
  2. Choose the best apples that you can find. They should be free from bruises, firm, and tart. Tart apples contrast with the candy coating well. We prefer smaller granny smith or honey crisp apples. It makes for a better serving size. Remove the stem of the apples by twisting and pulling or by cutting with a sharp scissors. Press craft sticks for handles into the stem end of the apples.
  3. Dry the apples completely. If the apples are damp the caramel will not stick to the apples.
  4. Place buttered or oiled waxed paper on a cookie sheet or several large plates. Set aside.
  5. Melt the caramels over very low heat, stirring occasionally as they soften.
  6. While holding the pan to its side to make the caramel deeper, twist the apples through the caramel. By grasping the sticks, you can roll the apples on an angle so that the caramel does not need to be deep enough to immerse the apples. Let the excess caramel drip off of the apple. Scrape the caramel off of the bottom of the apple. More caramel will drip down the apple as it sits. Set them vertically on the waxed paper to cool.
  7. Melt enough chocolate to twist the caramel covered apples through the chocolate. Use the very best chocolate that you can buy. You can buy melting wafers specifically made for candy coatings. (Avoid those melting chocolates designed for thin, hard coatings.) When the chocolate is melted, dip the caramel coated apples. Again, set on waxed paper to cool or roll the coated apples through chopped nuts or crushed candies.
  8. Once cool, consider melting white chocolate or almond bark and drizzling the white chocolate over the apples in an attractive manner.

Notes:

  1. Don’t cook either the caramel or chocolate coating. Cooking will change the consistency; it only needs to melt.
  2. If the coating seems too thin, it’s too hot. Remove the pan from the heat and let it cool.
  3. If the coating is not adhering properly to the apple, it is too cool. Heat the topping further.
  4. The coatings will set up faster in the refrigerator.
  5. Once cool, the apples can be placed in individual plastic bags and a ribbon tied around the stick.
  6. They do not have to be refrigerated unless you would prefer to do so. If refrigerated the apple itself will be cold, but it may make the coatings harder than desired.

Caramelapple

Method #2: Using a Traditional Caramel Recipe

I’ve made caramel so many times it’s almost second nature.  It just takes a few ingredients and a candy thermometer.  Here is a typical recipe.
This recipe makes enough caramel for about a 10 large apples.


See “Keys to Success: Making Caramel for Caramel Apples” in the sidebar.

Review method #1.  Instead of melting candy caramels, make candy using the recipe below. 

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups corn syrup
1/2 cup butter
2 cups whipping cream
2 teaspoons Madagascar vanilla

  1. In a large heavy pot, place the sugars, salt, whipping cream, and corn syrup.  With a large wooden spoon, mix these ingredients together.  Add the butter. 
  2. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring constantly.
  3. Using a pastry brush, dip the brush in water and wash down the sides of the pan until it is clear of any sugar crystals.  Sugar crystals left on the sides of the pan may cause crystallization of the candy.
  4. Insert a candy thermometer into the pan with the end submerged in the candy but not touching the bottom.  Cook until the candy reaches the soft ball stage, 240 degrees.  Test the viscosity of the candy by dipping the end of a spoon into the hot candy and then placing it into a cup of cold water to cool.  The resulting candy should be soft and pliable but not runny.  If the candy is too soft, continue cooking.  If the candy is too hard and chewy, add some additional cream or milk to thin it down.
  5. Remove the candy from the heat and stir in the vanilla.  Let the candy cool for about five minutes, to about 200 degrees or until it is thick enough to dip the apples with a nice heavy coating. Work quickly and if the candy cools too much, reheat it.

 

3apples 2Method #3: Using a Caramel Candy Coating Recipe

This caramel recipe makes great caramel, better than the caramel that you buy in the store and is way easier than unwrapping a million little caramel squares.  This is an easy caramel recipe.

Yield: Enough caramel for about 15 good-sized apples. 

1 lb brown sugar (see baker’s note)
1 cup (two sticks) butter
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon <a href="http://www.


<hr class=’system-pagebreak’ /><hr class=’system-pagebreak’ /><hr class=’system-pagebreak’ /><hr class=’system-pagebreak’ />preparedpantry.com/butterscotch-flavor.aspx”>butterscotch flavor

Care needs to be taken to assure that there are no sugar crystals in your candy as you make it.  A few sugar crystals will cause the entire batch to crystallize. The following instructions will help avoid crystallization. 

  1. Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan.  Add the sweetened condensed milk and syrup.  When the mixture is hot, add the sugar and salt and stir with a wooden spoon until the sugar is dissolved.
  2. Wash the sides of the pan down with a soft spatula dipped in water until there is none of the mixture on the sides of the pan.  This is to ensure that all of the sugar crystals are washed into the pan and dissolved. Check to make sure that there are no remaining sugar crystals by rubbing a little of the mixture between your thumb and forefinger.  You should feel no gritty sugar.
  3. With no sugar crystals in your pan, turn up the heat and cook the mixture while shirring until the candy reaches 245-250 degrees as registered on a candy thermometer.  Remove it from the heat and store in the flavor.
  4. Immediately pour out the caramel into a glass or metal bowl. Allow the caramel to cool to 190 degrees for dipping apples.

Baker’s note:  One pound of brown sugar is equal to 2 1/3 cups of moderately compressed brown sugar. 

Groupapples

To Make Chocolate Covered Caramel Apples . . .

  1. Melt enough chocolate to twist the caramel covered apples through the chocolate. Use the very best chocolate that you can buy. You can buy melting wafers specifically made for candy coatings. (Avoid those melting chocolates designed for thin, hard coatings.) When the chocolate is melted, dip the caramel coated apples. Again, set on waxed paper to cool or roll the coated apples through chopped nuts or crushed candies.
  2. Once cool, consider melting white chocolate or almond bark and drizzling the white chocolate over the apples in an attractive manner.

Caramel Recipe Variations

You can make your caramel with a variety of flavors.  This one is made with butterscotch because it’s our favorite.  However, you can use any “warm” flavor-a flavor that complements caramel.  (Fruit flavors such as strawberry or blueberry do not go well with the richness of caramel.) 
Consider any of the following:

Keys to Success: Making Caramel for Caramel Apples

Where can you go wrong?  Not getting the caramel to the right consistency.

The longer you cook your caramel and the hotter it becomes, the thicker and harder it gets.  And you need caramel that is not too sticky, leaves a nice thick coat on the apples, and is not too hard to chew.  So how do you cook just right and not too long?

In preparation for this article, I read several texts and maybe 30 recipes.  Nearly all methods fall into two camps: Using a candy thermometer, cook to a precise temperature or deliberately overcook the caramel and thin it with cream or milk.  I prefer the former: cook to the right consistency and only if you overcook it, thin it down.

Different recipes specified different temperatures, all the way from 236 degrees to 250 degrees.  But it’s hard to be as precise as these recipes suggest.  (One recipe said to always recalibrate your thermometer using boiling water-presumably at 212 degrees.  But depending on elevation, water doesn’t always boil at 212 degrees.   And your thermometer may be accurate at 212 degrees but not at 250 degrees.)

So what’s the answer?  Get it close with a thermometer and check it by submerging a bit on a spoon in cold water.  Once you cool the test in cold water, you can tell exactly how thick it is.  Cook it for a few minutes longer or thin it with a bit of cream.