Monday, September 14, 2009

Caramel Apples

I have a love/hate relationship with caramel apples. I love the taste of caramel and apples, but I hate that you finish the caramel before you finish the apple. I had 2 bags of little apples from our produce basket and decided that it was the perfect time to try a caramel apple. The ratio is so much better with little apples. Like most candies I try to make, I need more practice. The caramel turned out very tasty, but the dipping process was a little tricky. I used mini M&M's, chopped peanuts, and crushed Skor bars. The peanuts worked the best. The M&M's would fall off more and the Skor bits had to be refrigerated since they became melty (also more difficult to transport in the hot AZ summer). Overall, I would say "yum." If there are any vegans wanting to try making caramel apples, I saw this one but have not tried it. Vegan Caramel Apples

Caramel Apples

1 cup real butter
2 cups dark brown sugar, packed
1 cups light corn syrup
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
2 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
8-10 medium-sized apples, sticks inserted in tops

Over medium-high heat, stir together the butter, sugar, corn syrup, and condensed milk in a heavy sauce pan. Bring to a boil. Cook about 30-40 minutes (don't stir often, as you'll risk crystallization), until the caramel darkens and thickens. It should reach the "firm ball" stage of candy-making. This means that, upon dropping the caramel into cold water, a firm ball forms. This ball shouldn't flatten when you remove it from the water, but should still easily change shape when you touch it. With a candy thermometer the temp should read 245-250 degrees F.  Remove finished caramel from the heat. Stir in vanilla extract. Dip apples into hot caramel. In order to get as thick a caramel coating as possible, dip each apple at an angle and rotate within the caramel. Pull apple out vertically and allow excess caramel to drip off. Then turn the apple right-side-up a moment (as if you were about to eat it) and let the caramel settle for a few seconds. This prevents large bare spots at the top of the apple. Place apples on greased wax paper or foil. While caramel is still warm and soft, decorate as desired. (Unless dipping apples in chocolate, in which case the caramel needs to be allowed to set).  Let cool to set.

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