Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Caramel apples

I am spoiled at work. No, really, I am. My office is located on a beautiful college-like campus, and we have such fabulous amenities like a volleyball court, a basketball court, an on-site gym, and our own Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts. Our company also has "fun days," where we take time off work to, well, do something fun. Last month, we took a day trip to a local apple orchard where we spent a few hours picking our own apples, tasting various wines and enjoying a buffet lunch at a tavern. Yes, I get paid to do this, and no, I do not have to pay for the fun event. Now do you think I'm spoiled?

I came back from my apple picking adventure with about 11 pounds worth of apples. Unfortunately, it was raining that day, and we went pretty early in the season. As a result, we only had 4 different apple varieties to choose from that day. I stuck with Granny Smith and Fuji, since those are my favorite apples to bake with and eat on their own.
Mommy's helper


That evening, we went to the grocery store, and Addie immediately saw one a display with candy and caramel covered apples. She asked me if we could make our own, and of course I agreed. I was a bit overzealous and wanted to cover my apples with all kinds of fun toppings, but I found that the caramel was too soft and didn't allow the toppings to stay on very easily.

The process for making the caramels took much longer than expected (it stayed on the stove for at least 30 minutes). Then I took a lot of time cleaning and prepping the apples for dipping. I did manage to add some sprinkles to a few of the apples, but most of it bounced off the apples and onto the floor. Although it did make quite a mess, we loved how these caramel apples turned out. I gave Addie one to try and we gave the rest to her friends and teachers. I wrapped them in clear cellophane and tied them with a pink ribbon (that is Addie's favorite color at the moment). I recommend storing these in the refrigerator so the caramel hardens a bit, but be sure to let it sit at room temperature before eating.

One other thing to note is that although the recipe says it makes enough for 8 apples, I found that to be a big lie. I had a bunch of caramel left over and simply poured it into an 8" x 8" silicone pan. I was able to cut those into at least 24 caramels and we wrapped those with waxed paper and gave them to her classmates as treats. If you don't want to make a pan of caramels, the recipe below should be enough to coat at least 16 large apples, if not more.

Caramel apples
  • 8 tart apples, washed and stemmed
  • 8 popsicle sticks or other wooden sticks
  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 cups light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup corn syrup
  • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Directions
Place the popsicle/wooden sticks into the apples where the stem normally is. Push the stick in so it is stable (but don't push all the way through the apple).

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium, high-walled saucepan, melt the butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and sweetened condensed milk over medium heat. Keep stirring until the mixture reaches 248 degrees F (soft ball stage). Remove caramel from heat and stir in caramel.

Dip each apple into the caramel and allow the extra to run off. If desired, sprinkle on toppings like sprinkles, chocolate chips, chopped nuts or M&Ms. Place the apples on the parchment paper and allow the caramel to harden.

Uneaten apples can be stored in the refrigerator or stored at room temperature. These also make great gifts - you can wrap them individually in clear cellophane and tie them with a ribbon.

Yield: At least 8 caramel apples (I got 8 apples plus enough for a thin 8"x8" pan of caramels)

Source: Allrecipes.com

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