Monday, October 26, 2009

Gourmet Caramel Apples

This past Sunday we had a family birthday party at my house. Instead of giving out "treat bags", we decided to give out caramel apples. I really think these taste as good or better than the ones you buy at specialty stores. The caramel turns out perfect each time, and makes a delicious, beautiful apple.

Caramel Apples
Items that you will need: Heavy pan, candy thermometer, styrofoam circle (sold in floral department at craft store or Walmart), buttered foil or Silpat mat, caramel apple sticks

12 crisp apples (Granny Smith, Fuji, or Honey Crisp work well)
2 cubes (1 cup) salted butter
1 pound dark brown sugar
1 can sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated!)
2/3 cup dark Karo syrup
1/3 cup real maple syrup
1 tsp molasses
1 1/2 tsp vanilla

Mix all ingredients (except apples!) in wide heavy pan that is at least 3 inches deep. Turn on low heat until all sugar is dissolved, stirring occasionally. If you rub the mixture between your fingers, it should not be gritty. This step takes about 15 minutes.

Prepare apples: Wash (I scrub mine to get the waxy coating off), dry, and insert sticks.

Turn heat up to medium high heat. Insert candy thermometer onto side of pan. (Note: it is VERY important to have an accurate candy thermometer for perfect caramel. One way to check, is to put your candy thermometer in boiling water for 3 minutes. It should read 212 degrees F. If your thermometer reads any different than that, adjust accordingly. For instance, mine read 205 degrees. So, when the recipe calls for the caramel to be 236 degrees, mine was done at 229 degrees.) Stirring frequently, boil until caramel reaches 236 degrees F. This takes about 12 minutes.

Pour caramel into smaller, deeper pan or bowl. Do not scrape pan!

Immediately start dipping apples. Shake each apple, letting caramel drip back into pan.

Place apples upside down into the styrofoam (this prevents pooling on the pan). When caramel sets up a bit, you can mold the caramel if any drooping occurs. If bubbles occur, take a pin and pop, then mold back to the apple.

At this point, you can either leave the apples as is, or dip in white chocolate and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, or drizzle with white and dark chocolate. We like them dipped in white chocolate, then rolled in mini m&ms, mini chocolate chips, sprinkles, Heath bits, etc. Be creative!

When apple is completely cooled, package in cellophane bag, or caramel apple box.

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