Caramel apples are one of my favorite treats. Even though they are covered in sugar and chocolate, there's something about having fruit at the heart of a dessert that helps me feel less guilty about eating it- most of the time.
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My favorite caramel recipe comes from Simply Kierste a pin I found on Pinterest. My daughter had one in her lunch yesterday as a treat, and was telling her friends about the family tradition we have of making them yearly. I never even thought of making caramel apples as a family tradition! It made me realize our lives are probably rich with things that we do that are viewed as traditions to our families. I just thought I was having a fall craving!
Directions from Simple Kierste: Before dipping you apples in caramel!!
1. Wash your apples well, and let dry completely.
Poke a wooden stick in the center of the apple.
2. Lightly sand your apples with sand paper
1/2 c. butter
1 c. light corn syrup
2 c. brown sugar
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp. vanilla
Combine the first three ingredients in a large saucepan. When the butter is melted, add the condensed milk. Stirring constantly, cook to 230 degrees (soft ball stage). Take off heat, and stir in vanilla. Let it cool for a few minutes before dipping—super hot caramel is more likely to slide off.
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You can also unwrap and melt already made caramels from the store, but my kids love making the caramel from scratch. It's rich and buttery, and makes the house smell amazing. Granny Smith apples are my favorite to use because their tart nature keeps the sweetness from over powering your palate.
We usually use wooden craft sticks to dip the apples, but of course, we were all out just as I was going to go about dipping the apples. So we got creative with some plastic knives instead. They weren't as sturdy, but they did the trick.
Roll the apples in the caramel and let the excess drip off. We've found the toppings stay on better after the caramel has cooled on the apples for a bit. So once we had the apples covered in caramel we went about melting our chocolate.
Using a double boiler on the stove would be ideal, but with 7 kids running around the house, I don't have the patience for it. I use the microwave. I melt in 30 second increments, stirring in between so I don't burn the chocolate. Then use a spoon or fork to drizzle it over your apples.
We've used lots of different toppings through the years: white chocolate, dark chocolate, milk chocolate, Health, Snickers, Reeses, pretzels, M&Ms, nuts, coconut, cinnamon sugar, are just a few off the top of my head.
This is especially fun when we have friends over and everyone can make their own to take home.
These apples aren't perfect (my assistant chefs are kids), but the taste is all that matters anyway!!
And just to keep it a little more real, here's what it looks like behind the scenes during my food photography sessions.
My 3 year old, bless her heart, just cannot keep that determined baby off my props.
And yes, I would be the crazy lady hopping, and crouching around a plate of food on the front porch in my pajamas.