Thursday, October 30, 2014

Caramel Apples; decorated for Halloween

A few days ago I was browsing the bakery at my local grocery store, where they know me by name (I have a problem, I  know.) and I saw caramel apples. I haven't had a caramel apple since I was a kid and my daughter has never had one. After staring at them in their caramel covered goodness for about five minutes too long, I decided we needed to have one! Or many...

I absolutely adore the woman who runs the bakery, who after getting with her manager, just gave me the cute little Halloween decorations and sticks, and charged me half of what the sprinkles would have cost on the baking isle. I guess having bad luck since they were all out of those things already so close to Halloween, was actually pretty good luck! Then with two more ingredients, their examples and their thoughtful generosity, I was able to make pretty much exactly the same apples. And for less than it would have cost to purchase them, even if I'd have had to have bought the sticks and decorations, too.

If you want to make some caramel apples, I'll give you some options, including a homemade sauce and ideas for optional toppings. :)

For all methods, you will need:
- 6 to 8 apples of any variety (I chose red, gala and granny smith, all!)
- as many wooden candy apple sticks (or popsicle sticks) as you have apples
- wax paper
- 'toppings' of your choice; sprinkles, mini M&M's, chopped nuts, chocolate drizzle, mini chocolate chips, crushed graham crackers, etc.

With a homemade sauce that will cover about 8 apples, you will need:
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream, divided into 3/4 cup and 1/4 cup
- 3/4 cup light corn syrup
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Non-homemade sauce ideas:
- store bought caramel bits (like the ones I used, shown in the photo below)
- wrapped caramel candies (like Brach's Milk Maids) unwrapped and melted

1. Wash your apples and dry them. Twist the stems off and insert the sticks into/beside the stems of each.

2. Line a plate or baking sheet with wax and prepare your ingredients into bowls for easy sprinkling or rolling once your apples have been dipped in caramel.

3. Prepare your caramel by the package directions. If you're making the homemade sauce, bring 3/4 c. cream, corn syrup, butter and sugar to a simmer, stirring constantly until smooth and golden. Remove from heat and add 1/4 c. cream and vanilla and stir.

4. While your caramel is still hot, hold the apples by the stick and dip them into the caramel. Spoon the caramel over the apples to completely cover them if you need to. Let the excess drip off the bottom. *You can dip them twice and hold the apple, turning it up and down while it cools for a thicker coating.*

5. Dip the coated apple bottom into your preferred topping or roll it to cover more ground. Set on wax papered plate and refrigerate for a little while, at least twenty minutes.

6. Optionally, top the apples with a decoration if you're making these for a holiday or event.


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