One of my very favorite things about fall is crisp, delicious apples… and of course making caramel apples out of them! Caramel apples are a favorite fall treat. They are festive, delicious, and fun to make.
The Nutritional Benefits
You and your entire family can enjoy a delicious, caramel apple and feel good about it. Why? The apple you are eating provides numerous, healthy benefits you won’t get from other sweet treats like candy and cookies. In addition, caramel apples offer protein, antioxidant phytonutrients, and dietary fiber. The average caramel apple has 160 calories and about 28 grams of sugar. This amount of sugar may seem like a lot, but it’s about the same amount you find in a container of fruit yogurt.
Secrets to Caramel Apple Success:
Fresh Crisp Apples
Buy fresh crisp apples. Most people prefer Granny Smith apples, but any crisp apples will taste great.
Remove the Wax
Always work with apples without a waxed coating. If you buy apples with wax, here are some wax removal techniques I found online:
- Scrub the apple skins with a brand new green scouring pad under warm water;
- Dip apples in boiling water for just a moment and then immediately wipe the wax off;
- Create a paste with baking soda and water and give the apples a rub down with it; or
- Prepare a bowl with 4-5” of lukewarm water. Add 2 tablespoons each of lemon juice and baking soda; mix well. Add apples to the water, then, use a gentle veggie brush to clean the apples.
Rinse and Dry
With each of the above techniques, rinse the apples well and completely dry them.
Chill the apples at least 30 minutes in the fridge before coating them.
Prepare the Caramel
Make the caramel. It is definitely worth the extra time it takes to make homemade caramel. Let it sit on the stove for about 8 minutes to cool slightly before dipping the apples. You may need to warm the caramel more from time to time,
Remove the stems, and insert the sticks into the cold apples. Set the apple down on a flat surface and then put the stick in perpendicular to the apple. Place them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment or a silicone baking mat. Waxed paper and foil stick to the caramel. Now dry the juice from the apple after inserting stick or it will dilute the caramel and leave a bubbly, wet hole on top later.
Keep apples fresh longer by dipping the caramel to coat the entire apple, including about 1/4″ of the stick. It seals the apple where the stick is inserted. Prevent the caramel from pooling at the bottom of the apple by letting it drip off and then scrape the bottom of the apple leaving only a tiny amount of caramel.
After dipping your apple in the caramel, tip it upside down for a few seconds. This will help prevent “puddling” at the base of your apple. Then place the apples on the lined baking sheet and place in the fridge to chill for 15 minutes. If the caramel puddles, fold and shape it under the apple, or cut it off with clean kitchen scissors.
Embellish with Toppings
After the caramel cools, you can also dip the apples in chocolate, use a rubber spatula to spread chocolate onto the caramel, or drizzle the chocolate on from the top of the apple and let it drip down.
If you want a topping on the caramel or chocolate, refrigerate the coated apple for a minute or two to allow it to set-up just a bit, however not so much that the toppings can’t adhere!
When you use nuts and other embellishing confections, they should be small so that they are less likely to slide down or fall off the caramel or chocolate. You might need to push the topping back up and gently press into the caramel or chocolate.
Creative toppings put a sweet spin on this juicy fall fruit. Options are unlimited, but here are some proven favorites: crushed cookies, candy bar pieces, crushed mints, mini marshmallows, crushed graham crackers, chopped nuts, chopped brown sugar nuts, crushed pretzel or potato chips, mini chocolate or flavored chips, sprinkles, cinnamon-sugar mix, granola, seeds, diced dried fruit, trail mix, coconut, and sea or kosher salt.
Store finished apples uncovered in refrigerator if not bagged/boxed. If storing in cellophane bags, don’t keep them in the refrigerator because they will sweat when taken it out of the refrigerator. Apples will be good for up to a week in bags/boxes at room temperature.
Cut Into the Sweetness
Cut a caramel apple using an apple slicer when it is at room temperature. Note: the sliced apples will eventually start to brown, so don’t cut it too far in advance.
The gooey goodness of a caramel apple is a sure sign fall has arrived. When was the last time you ate a caramel apple? In addition to getting the luscious flavor of the caramel, you also get a number of health benefits from the apple!