There are so many fall food favorites, but around here nothing tops homemade caramel apples…. except maybe those dipped in caramel and chocolate. Making your own homemade caramel isn’t hard, it’s just all in the timing. Once you’ve got the hang of it… you’ll be making so much more than caramel apples, think of the candy possibilities. Yum.
So here’s the thing about cooking sugar. You heat it to a certain point and it’s delicious, a little longer and well, it’s burnt. Don’t worry…. just watch it every second and swirl, swirl, swirl.
The ingredients for making your own caramel are simple. You might have all of them in your kitchen already.
2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
pinch of salt
Semisweet Dark Baking Chocolate
White Baking chocolate
Anything you like… the options are nearly endless.
Note: this recipe will coat about 6 apples. Make sure to clean out a space in your fridge for the apples.
Prep your apples. I like to use Granny Smith or Gala. Clean them up and poke a popsicle stick or lollipop stick through the center of the apple. Place the apples on a sheet of parchment.
Note: This total cooking time should take about 15 minutes. Place sugar, corn syrup and water in a sauce pan over medium high heat. You can use a spoon to stir the sugar until it dissolves. (At this point it’s kind of like making your own super concentrated simple syrup.)
Once the sugar really starts to boil and bubble, it’s time to put down the spoon and swirl, swirl, swirl. (Don’t use the spoon anymore.) From this point it takes about 10 minutes for the sugar to cook to a light amber stage. You are looking for it to reach a very light amber stage (or 320 degrees on a candy thermometer). It will deepen in color even after it is removed from the heat.
Once it’s reached 320 degrees, or it’s the light amber color, remove it from the heat. Remember: it will continue to deepen in color once it’s removed.
The cream helps make the caramel soft, chewy and delicious. The vanilla adds just the right flavor notes to the caramel.
Now, place the caramel back on low heat for just a minute. Remove from heat and it’s time to dip the apples. It’s hard to fully dip the apples for this small batch, unless you double the recipe. You’ll notice I tilted the pan a bit and turned the apples through the caramel. Dip each apple until you have them all coated. You’ll likely have a little extra caramel. You can pour the extra on the parchment for candy or into molds.
Now place the caramel coated apples in the refrigerator. I’ve found that the caramel needs to cool and adhere just a bit to the apple before coating with anything. Otherwise, you risk losing your caramel, rather than adding toppings.
It’s time to melt the chocolate. This is easy. Choose a high quality baking chocolate. I used 4 ounces of Scharffen Berger semisweet dark chocolate. Using a double boiler or your own made up double boiler… (just place a glass (oven safe) bowl over a small pot filled with 1/2 to 3/4 full of water). Heat the water to a gentle boil. The bowl will heat enough to melt the chocolate gently.
Once the chocolate has melted. Dip and if needed, spoon the chocolate over the cooled caramel apple. Repeat as you desire. Place the apple back on the parchment. You can add sprinkles or jimmies to the chocolate at this time.
If you choose not to add chocolate to every apple, like me. Then let the apples just warm a bit on a counter and then roll them in your selected topping. You can even gently press the toppings into the apples. I used this method with the harvest pearls. This is your time to get creative.
Now count the seconds until the apples literally disappear.