Introduction: Easy Homemade Caramel Apples
In this episode of In The Kitchen With Matt, I will show you how to make caramel apples at home. This easy homemade caramel apple recipe is so yummy and simple to make. Nothing quite like homemade caramel from scratch covering a nice tart apple. If I can do it, you can do it, let's get started!
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Follow the easy steps below or watch the video tutorial or do both. :)
Step 1: Ingredients and Tools
- 8 to 10 apples (any kind that you want, I use Granny Smith)
- 2 cups packed brown sugar, either light or dark (400g)
- 1/4 cup butter, unsalted or salted (56g)
- 1/2 tsp. salt (2g)
- 1 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream (360ml)
- 1 cup of corn syrup (340g)
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract (5ml)
- Nuts, optional
- Heavy bottom 3-quart pot or larger
- Caramel apple sticks, bamboo skewers, wooden flat popsicle sticks, etc.
- Sheet pan
- Parchment paper or a silicone baking mat
- Wooden Spoon or silicone spoon
- Basting brush
- Cake knife, optional
- Candy thermometer
Step 2: Prep the Apples
Begin by washing the apples with really hot water. If you have the time, boil some water, put the apples in the water for 20 to 30 seconds. Remove them from the water and then dry them really well.
Why do this? It removes the thin film of wax that covers the apples. If you are using homegrown apples from a tree, you won't need to worry about it.
If you leave the wax on, the caramel won't stick as well to the apples.
Take a special caramel apple stick or just use a bamboo skewer or wooden popsicle stick. I usually just sharpen bamboo dowels.
Stick the apples in the core.
Set them on a sheet pan lined with a piece of parchment paper or a silicone mat.
*NOTE: Some recipes call to put the apples in the fridge or the freezer to get really cold, and others say to leave them at room temp. I have tried both ways and either works fine.
Step 3: Make the Caramel
Time to make the caramel from scratch. In a deep 3 quart or larger pot, add the sugar, salt, butter, heavy whipping cream, and corn syrup.
TIP: If you can use a pot with a heavy bottom, this promotes more even cooking.
Set the pot on the burner and set the heat to medium, 350 F/176 C. Stir continuously with a wooden or a silicone spoon until the butter melts and it barely starts to bubble, this will take 10 minutes or so to get to this point, maybe a bit longer.
Then brush down any sugar crystals that are clinging to the sides of the pot with a damp basting brush. If you leave them there, they may burn, and disrupt the caramel.
You don't stir the caramel anymore. Just let it sit and cook for 15 to 20 minutes until the temp reaches 235 to 245 F. (112-118C). This is the softball stage. I usually let it go closer to 245 F. I find the caramel turns out a bit better and clings to the apple a little better.
Once at that temperature, turn the heat off and remove the pot to the adjacent burner. Let it cool for a minute or two and then pour in the vanilla extract and gently stir it in, don't stir it vigorously, that will add unwanted bubbles.
NOTE: You really need to use a candy thermometer. It is just too hard to tell when it is at the correct temp.
Step 4: Cool Then Dip
Now allow the caramel too cool, I usually pour it into a pyrex bowl, because it is easier to dip, but you can certainly leave it in the pot as well, and then just tilt the pot when dipping.
The best dipping temperature is right around 190 F/88 C. If the caramel is too hot it will be too runny and only add a thin layer of caramel, and then pool at the bottom.
Dip the apple in the caramel, then allow the excess to drain off. Use a butter knife or cake spatula and scrape some away from the bottom of the apple and scrape up a bit from the bottom. The caramel on the upper part will drain down a bit with gravity. At this point, you can also dip the caramel apple in a bowl of chopped nuts, peanuts, pecans, walnuts, etc.
Place the dipped caramel apple on a sheet pan lined with a silicone baking mat or a piece of parchment paper. Do not use wax paper.
Put the pan in the fridge and allow the caramel to set for 45 minutes to an hour.
This recipe makes enough for 8 to 10 apples depending on the size of the apples.
Step 5: Soft Caramel Candies
Now if you have leftover caramel, you can make yummy soft caramel candies. Just pour the leftovers onto a pan lined with parchment paper. Then place it in the fridge for 30 to 45 minutes.
Once cooled remove it from the pan and place it on a cutting board, but still on the parchment paper. Cut it up into little squares. If the caramel is too hard to cut, allow it to warm up a bit at room temp.
You can wrap them with caramel candy wrappers, little pieces of parchment paper, or just leave as is. Just don't stack them, they will stick to each other.
Step 6: Cut and Serve!
Remove the caramel apples from the fridge and allow them to sit for 10 to 15 minutes at room temperature. While you can just bite into them, I am guessing your dentist will prefer you not to eat them that way, haha. Just cut down the sides with a knife and then slice them into bite-sized pieces. Easier to eat them this way anyway. But hey, I am not stopping you from biting into them! :)
Tip: If you store the caramel apples in an airtight container in the fridge they will last about a week.
Tip 2: You can also dip the set caramel apples in chocolate, or drizzle chocolate on them, add sprinkles, etc. Have fun with it, or just leave them plain or with nuts only.
You can print the recipe here if you like.
Step 7: Troubleshooting
I wanted to show you some fails, so I purposely made some that didn't work out. If you run into the issue of the caramel not sticking to the apple and just pooling at the bottom a few things could have happened.
1. The wax wasn't washed off of the apples. You really need to use hot water and then dry them well to get that wax off.
2. The caramel was too hot while dipping. The temp needs to be right around 190 F/88 C. for dipping.
3. The caramel wasn't cooked long enough, it needs to be between 235 F and 245 F. (112-118C)
Those three factors are usually the culprits, for failed caramel apples. :)
Step 8: Video Tutorial
Now watch those steps in action with this video tutorial. :)
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