Lucy got her braces off and we celebrated with corn on the cob (Elote style) and caramel apples- two foods that aren’t possible with braces! I wanted to make real caramel rather than store bought, but I always struggle with getting it to stay on the apples.
I wanted to spend time with my mom that day, so I took my supplies to my parents’ house to make them there. (She was a home economics major in college, so she has more skills with a candy thermometer than I do!) So we got to work in her sunny, bright kitchen and waited for the caramel to reach the point of removing from heat. It helped to have each other to not pull it too early.
Some tips I have read and tried along the way include washing the apples really well, to try to remove some of the wax (used to make them pretty in the grocery bin), and to dry them really well. Also, refrigerating them after inserting the sticks is helpful.
The recipe we followed was from Sally’s Baking Addiction. I love her recipes. They are always on point.
Homemade Caramel Apples (click for printable recipe)
borrowed from Sally’s Baking Addiction
8–9 cold apples
1 and 3/4 cups (420ml) heavy cream
1 cup (240ml) light corn syrup
2 cups (400g) packed light or dark brown sugar
1/4 cup (4 Tablespoons; 60g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Prep the apples: Rinse the apples with water, then wipe completely dry. Removing the waxy coating will help the caramel seal to the apple. Remove the apple stem and insert a caramel apple stick about 3/4 down into the apple.
Line a large baking sheet with a silicone baking mat, parchment or grease the pan with butter.
Make the caramel: Combine the heavy cream, corn syrup, brown sugar, butter, and salt in a 3-quart heavy-duty saucepan over medium heat. Do not turn the temperature up or down– keep at medium the entire time the caramel cooks. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the butter is melted. Once melted, brush down the sides of the pan with a water-moistened pastry brush and attach a candy thermometer to the pan, making sure the bulb is not touching the bottom of the pan (as you’ll get an inaccurate reading).
Without stirring, let the mixture cook and bubble until it reaches 235°-240°F. Reaching this temperature should take about 15 – 20 minutes, though don’t use time as your guide because it depends on your stove. Use the candy thermometer as your guide. The temperature will heat up slowly, then move quickly, so keep your eye on the pot. Once at 235°F – 240°F, remove caramel from heat and stir in the vanilla. Avoid over-stirring which can create air bubbles in the caramel (and then on the apple). Allow caramel to cool for 10-15 minutes until slightly thickened. If caramel is too thin to coat apples, let it cool and thicken for 5-10 minutes longer. If it gets too thick, return it to the stove top to melt a little.
Dip the apples: Holding the caramel apple stick, dip the apple into the warm caramel, tilting the pot as needed to coat all sides of the apple. Lift the apple up and swirl it around or gently tap it against the side of the pot to let excess caramel drip off. Place coated apple on prepared pan. Repeat with remaining apples. Enjoy immediately or allow caramel to set, about 45-60 minutes- refrigerated if possible.
As I transported them home, on a very hot August day, they started to melt off, as they shifted around on the parchment with every stop sign and curve I took. I popped them back in the refrigerator as soon as I was able. This is an essential move. I highly recommend keeping them in the refrigerator.
Of course you can take them up a notch with drizzled chocolate, white chocolate, nuts, sprinkles, toffee, etc. We went for the classic. Our family ended up eating most of them sliced into quarters or sixths and sharing them. They are delicious! The caramel is lovely.
As autumn approaches it gets me super excited about all the cozy foods that await!