Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Caramel Apples

This post should really be subtitled "a labor of love." Who knew making homemade caramel was such a process!

Ever since the cool breeze of autumn has made it's way through my windows, I've been wanting to get in the kitchen and try my hands at some fall-inspired foods. The first treat was some healthy-ish pumpkin chocolate chip muffins, and they were super tasty! I wanted to make a "Happy Fall" gift basket for some loved ones, and I thought that caramel apples would make a great addition to the muffins. A quick search on Pinterest later, and I had an easy-looking recipe and a new resolve: I can totally do this!

This was my first time making caramel from scratch and it was, in a word, easy. It was not, however, a quick process! Be sure to attempt this when you've got some time on your hands :)

Homemade Caramel Apples
Makes approximately 24 apples

4 cups sugar
1 cup butter
2 cups light corn syrup
1 can evaporated milk
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp. vanilla

Granny smith apples (makes enough for 24)
Assorted toppings:
     -Chocolate, white chocolate, nuts, coconut, cinnamon and sugar, cookie crumbs, etc.

In a heavy saucepan, melt butter, sugar, and corn syrup over medium heat. Heat until it reaches a rolling boil, stirring frequently. (This part took me about 20 minutes).

Once your mixture reaches a boil, slowly add both cans of milk. Stir constantly until mixture reaches 240-245 degrees, or what is called "firm ball stage." It is really important that you don't turn up the heat, but patiently wait for the caramel to come to temperature. (This is the really long part... I think it took me nearly 40 minutes!)

Once the caramel reaches firm ball stage, remove from heat and add vanilla. Stir and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes.

While it's cooling, wash the apples and pop them in the fridge for a few minutes. This will help the caramel solidify once you dip the apples. Line a baking sheet with wax paper and lots of cooking spray.  Insert popsicle sticks into apples and dip into caramel. Swirl and shake the apples to remove excess and scrape the bottoms to prevent a large foot from forming.

If you would like nuts or other toppings directly on the caramel, now is the time to add it. I wanted to chocolate dip my apples. After the caramel has had some time to cool and solidify on the apples, dip in melted white, milk, or dark chocolate. Add toppings as desired.

Our favorite turned out to be the one in the middle: caramel dipped, then covered in white chocolate, and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. Enjoy your fantastic fall treats!

Original recipe found here

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