Caramel Apples

I promised Warren that I would make homemade caramel apples for Halloween. And then we began the moving process. Moving and baking, cooking, pretty much anything else, do not mix. But a promise is a promise so I settled for post-Thanksgiving treats.

I’d never made caramel before so I felt like I was flying blind. I stuck to the recipe fairly closely but omitted the molasses (didn’t own any and didn’t want to start). It doesn’t say so in the instructions, but I found it helpful to dip the apples in boiling water for 30 seconds or more no more than 5 seconds* and gently rub with a paper towel to remove the wax before starting the caramel. Helps the caramel to stick to the apple a little better.

Oh my, did they turn out good! I had leftover caramel because the recipe called for 12 apples and I only purchased 6 (we did not need TWELVE of these babies in our home!). I used the excess for candy pieces to give away at Christmas.

Caramel-Dipped Apples
Bon Appétit | October 1999
Yield: Makes 12 apples

1 1-pound box dark brown sugar
16 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
2/3 cup dark corn syrup
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon dark molasses (opt.)
1/4 teaspoon salt

12 sticks
12 medium Granny Smith apples
Assorted decorations and melted chocolate (opt.)


  1. Combine first 8 ingredients in heavy 2 1/2-quart saucepan (about 3 inches deep). Stir with wooden spatula or spoon over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves (no crystals are felt when caramel is rubbed between fingers), occasionally brushing down sides of pan with wet pastry brush, about 15 minutes.
  2. Attach clip-on candy thermometer to side of pan. Increase heat to medium-high; cook caramel at rolling boil until thermometer registers 236°F, stirring constantly but slowly with clean wooden spatula and occasionally brushing down sides of pan with wet pastry brush, about 12 minutes. Pour caramel into metal bowl (do not scrape pan). Submerge thermometer bulb in caramel; cool, without stirring, to 200°F, about 20 minutes.
  3. While caramel cools, line 2 baking sheets with foil; butter foil. Push 1 stick into stem end of each apple. Set up decorations and melted chocolates.
  4. Holding stick, dip 1 apple into 200°F caramel, submerging all but very top of apple. Lift apple out, allowing excess caramel to drip back into bowl. Turn apple caramel side up and hold for several seconds to help set caramel around apple. Place coated apple on prepared foil. Repeat with remaining apples and caramel, spacing apples apart (caramel will pool on foil). If caramel becomes too thick to dip into, add 1 to 2 tablespoons whipping cream and briefly whisk caramel in bowl over low heat to thin.
  5. Chill apples on sheets until caramel is partially set, about 15 minutes. Lift 1 apple from foil. Using hand, press pooled caramel around apple; return to foil. Repeat with remaining apples.
  6. Firmly press decorations into caramel; return each apple to foil. Or dip caramel-coated apples into melted chocolate, allowing excess to drip off, then roll in nuts or candy. Or drizzle melted chocolate over caramel-coated apples and sprinkle with decorations. Chill until decorations are set, about 1 hour. Cover; chill up to 1 week.

I believe I have found a new holiday tradition.

*Editor’s Note (November 2011): Two things I have discovered after making these a few times. Please use aluminum foil and not wax paper as I so naively tried to do. The hot caramel just sticks to the wax paper, making it almost impossible to remove. Not a tasty addition to eat the paper remnants with your caramel. The other thing is that removing the wax coating from the apples prior to dipping is tricky because putting them in the water for too long turns them a sickly color green but not enough time doesn’t remove the wax. Somewhere between 3-5 seconds in the boiling pot should do it.

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