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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

REAL Caramel Apples


So this year I tried to make caramel apples (not the unwrap square and throw in a pot), but REAL caramel.  I had tried last year, and it was a runny mess.  Well I figured out the secret ... are you ready for it?


No wonder I screwed it up.  I have very little patience.  It takes a really long time for the caramel to cool after it cooks.  Otherwise it just pools all over the wax paper.  It also has to be a small batch, because it continues to cook in the pan, even off of heat, and my last couple of apples were cloudy, and super sweet, tasting more like praline.  I also read somewhere that you should pour the caramel into another bowl because the pan can continue to cook it.

It also helped to have topping ready and waiting.  That kept the caramel in place better at the bottom.  Have any toppings you may want ready too.  It needs to be put on right after the apple is dipped, otherwise it won't adhere.

So here are the instructions for REAL caramel apples:

In a small saucepan:
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup 
1/2 cup water 

Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring just until the sugar dissolves. Cook, swirling the pan (do not stir), until the mixture is light amber and a candy thermometer registers 320 degrees, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat.

slowly whisk in:
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
a pinch of salt

Return to low heat and whisk until smooth. Let cool until the caramel is thick enough to coat a spoon. Insert sticks into the stem ends of 6 apples and dip the apples into the caramel, letting the excess drip off. Roll in toppings if desired, then let cool on a parchment-lined baking sheet coated with cooking spray.

toasted pecans
toasted sliced almonds
chopped peanuts
chopped pretzels
drizzled milk or dark chocolate
sea salt
red hots
candy corn
mini chocolate chips
Rice krispies
Apple pie spice
Reeses pieces
chopped toffee bar
crushed butterfingers
chopped macadamia nuts & toasted coconut flakes
walnuts & dried cranberries
crystallized ginger & toasted sesame seeds
crushed cheese crackers (a twist on apple pie & cheddar cheese)
salted peanuts and caramel corn (ballpark style)
crushed oreo cookies & drizzled white chocolate
graham cracker, melted chocolate, and mini marshmallows (s'mores)
banana chips & melted peanut butter chips
granola, raisins, and m&ms (trail mix)
shredded orange zest & honey
crushed chocolate wafers & gummy worms
chopped peppermint candy over white chocolate