Homemade Gourmet Caramel Apples
12 apples of choice (I prefer Mackintosh and Cortland)
12 wooden candy skewers/popsicle sticks
1 cup butter (no substitutions)
2 ¼ cups brown sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
Toppings of choice: Chopped nuts, coconut, candy, sprinkles, marshmallows, etc.
4 oz. of your favorite chocolate
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (you can lightly grease the parchment paper with softened butter, but I’ve found it’s not necessary). Don’t use wax paper, even buttered, the caramel tends to stick to it.
Prepare the apples. Store bought apples have a bit of wax on them. Place apples in hot water for 30 seconds and remove. With a kitchen towel, rub the apples to remove the wax. If you are using orchard apples, you can skip this step. Let the apples dry completely. (Water/moisture will make the caramel grainy).
Remove the apple stems and insert the wooden skewers into the apples.
Make the Caramel Sauce:
In a 3 quart saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the brown sugar and salt. Add the corn syrup and mix well. While stirring constantly, gradually add the sweetened condensed milk. Once the ingredients are well mixed, insert a candy thermometer, making sure it doesn’t touch the bottom of the pan. Cook and stir the bubbling mixture constantly, until it reaches 244F°. This takes about 15 minutes - the mixture will thicken and turn a deeper amber color.
Immediately remove the caramel mixture from the heat. Carefully stir in the vanilla - this will bubble up.
Carefully remove the candy thermometer.
Working quickly, carefully swirl each apple into the hot caramel mixture, turning to coat. Use the wooden cooking spoon to help scrape off excess caramel. Dip the bottom and sides of the apples into the chopped nuts, candy or other toppings.
If the caramel begins to stiffen, warm it briefly on low heat and continue to dip the apples.
Place each caramel apple on prepared baking sheet lined with parchment paper. The caramel apples are very hot - let them cool before adding the melted chocolate.
Any leftover caramel, I scrape onto a left-over piece of parchment paper and enjoy it later!
*Make sure the caramel apples have cooled before drizzling the melted chocolate - otherwise the hot apple will heat up the chocolate and possibly discolor it. I usually wait a couple hours.
Break up your favorite chocolate bar and place in a small plastic bag. In 10 second intervals, microwave it on low just until melted. I squeeze the bag a bit between intervals to help the chocolate melt evenly.
Snip off a corner of the plastic bag and drizzle the melted chocolate over the caramel apples.
Storing Caramel Apples:
Caramel apples can be stored at room temperature in treat bags. I will refrigerate them after a day. It’s easier to place caramel apples into the treat bags when they have chopped nuts or candy coating the sticky caramel. If the apples are just covered in caramel, I would refrigerate them briefly before inserting them into the treat bags.
If refrigerated, allow the caramel apples to come to room temperature before serving.