We’re still enjoying the best of apple season, and there’s no better way to enjoy their crisp deliciousness than by taking a big bite out of a caramel apple. They make autumn feel just a little more festive, but you don’t have to go to a carnival or a state fair to find yourself a good one; making them at home is fun and easy, and perfect options for healthier Halloween treats! Read on to learn how you can make these crunchy delights at home, just in time for your Halloween party.
Choosing Your Apples
First of all, organic is a must, no matter what apple treat you’re making. Apples topped the Dirty Dozen list again this year, meaning conventional apples have more pesticide residue than any other produce. Granny Smiths are traditionally used in caramel apples, but Honeycrisps are gorgeous, and Red Delicious are good too. Just make sure you choose a crisp, hardy apple. For instance, it’s best to avoid Gala apples because their softer texture doesn’t mesh as well with the caramel.
What You’ll Need:
- 1 cup heavy organic cream
- 3/4 cup light corn syrup
- 1/2 cup organic butter or vegan butter substitute
- 1 cup organic brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon real organic vanilla extract
- Wooden popsicle sticks
- Waxed paper
- Organic apples (washed very well, and dried)
Homemade Caramel Sauce
Whisk the first 4 ingredients together in a saucepan and then bring the mixture to a boil slowly over medium heat. You must continue stirring the WHOLE time. After about 8 minute,s the caramel should start to look “ball-ish” (called the soft-ball stage). Drop one tablespoon of the mixture into a cup of icy cold water: if the caramel forms a solid-but-flexible ball, it’s done. At this point, stir in your organic vanilla extract.
Take the pan off the heat and let it cool a little before dipping your apples. The caramel should be quite thick and viscous so it’ll adhere to the apples properly.
To Dip the Apples
Remove the stems and use a narrow paring knife to make a shallow slice each top where the stems were. Gently but firmly, push the popsicle sticks into these slices: the stick should wedge nicely into the apple’s core, which will hold it in place.
Pour the caramel sauce into a soup bowl, and dip the apples in it by holding onto the sticks and rolling the apples around in the sauce. You can use a spoon to help slather the caramel over them, if needed. Scrape excess caramel off the bottoms of the apples and place them on waxed paper or a cutting board to firm up.
Toppings can attractive, tasty additions to caramel apples. If you’d like to use toppings, don’t dip the apples into a bowl them, but rather pour your topping of choice onto a small plate and twirl the apple through it. This results in a much lighter and evenly distributed coating. Here are just a few options for you to try:
- Chopped organic fair trade nuts
- Candy sprinkles
- Mini organic chocolate chips
- Piped-on melted white or dark chocolate
- Crushed-up cookies
- Toasted organic shredded coconut
Chill your apples, and then either eat them right off the stick, or cut them into slices first. Chilling does help the caramel to set, but you can also keep finished caramel apples at room temperature.
If you’d like to make these treats as smaller portions, remember that you can also use a melon baller to scoop balls out of each apple, dry those well, and then dip them into the sauce and toppings to make little bite-sized caramel niblets instead.
Images via Shutterstock