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Easy Family Recipes: Caramel Apples

This week’s recipe is a bit more involved than usual, but sure to make you a hit with family, friends, and neighbors too! Originally found in Bon Appetit back in the 90’s, I’ve made a few changes to this recipe over the years, adding lots of goodies at the end. Though the kids will love these, this is definitely a grown-up project, as you’ll need to be very, very careful when working with hot sugar/caramel. For a deeper flavor, use dark brown sugar and dark corn syrup, but these are still just as yummy using light versions of both. Apples store, covered, in the fridge for about a week.

Caramel Apples

Makes 10 apples, each serving 2 to 4

  • 1 pound brown sugar (light or dark)
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2/3 cup corn syrup (light or dark)
  • 1/3 cup real maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 10 large Granny Smith apples
  • Assorted candies, nuts and melted chocolate (I like toffee bits and mini M&Ms, but chopped up candy bars work great too!)
  • 10 chopsticks

Combine brown sugar, butter, sweetened condensed milk, corn syrup, maple syrup, and vanilla in a heavy 2 ½ quart saucepan. Stir with wooden spoon over medium heat until butter has melted.

Attach clip-on candy thermometer to side of pan. Increase heat to medium-high; cook caramel at rolling boil until thermometer registers 236°F (soft ball stage), stirring constantly but slowly with your wooden spoon, about 5 – 8 minutes. Pour caramel into metal bowl (do not scrape pan). Submerge thermometer bulb in caramel; cool, stirring gently occasionally, to 175°F, about 5 – 10 minutes. (The warmer the caramel, the easier to dip, but also the thinner the coating and more pooling that you will have).

While caramel cools, line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Push 1 chopstick into stem end of each apple. Set up any candies and melted chocolates.

Holding chopstick, dip 1 apple into warm caramel, submerging all but very top of apple using one dip per side for a total of four sides. Remove apple from caramel, allowing excess caramel to drip back into bowl by gently tapping stick against your hand with apple tilted up slightly, slowly turning the apple as you tap. Place coated apple on parchment. Repeat with remaining apples and caramel, spacing apples apart (caramel may pool on parchment). If caramel becomes too thick to dip into, place bowl over a pan of gently simmering water and briefly stir to warm.

Chill apples on sheets until caramel is partially set, about 15 minutes. Lift 1 apple at a time from parchment. Using hand, press pooled caramel around apple; return to parchment. Repeat with remaining apples.

Firmly press candies into caramel; return each apple to parchment. You can also dip caramel-coated apples into melted chocolate, tapping gently and allowing excess to drip off, then place back in fridge for 5-10 minutes, or until chocolate is partially set but still soft enough for candies to stick. Roll in nuts or candy. Chill until decorations are set, about 1 hour, then wrap. Store in fridge for up to one week.

Adapted from Bon Appetit, October 1999

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