Real Salted Caramel Apples
Caramel apples, candied apples, taffy apples… what’s the difference? I’ll tell you. Candied apples are apples covered in a cinnamon flavored clear candy (here’s a good recipe). The difference between caramel and “taffy” apples is a little more tricky. Some say there’s no such thing as a taffy apple, but I think the distinction is useful. Cook it a little less and you’ve got caramel apples, cook it a little more and you’ve got taffy apples.
I’ve never made caramel apples before. So, I started to research caramel apples. I have a good idea of how to make caramel–I was pretty sure I had made it… and then passed it by on the way to toffee. But as I was sifting through recipes, looking to mix and match to devise a recipe that would result in the kind of caramel apples I was imagining, I found an abundance of recipes that ask us to melt caramel candy and dip apples in it. I know it’s the snob in me that doesn’t like that, but I don’t.
When I say that I’ve “made” something, I like there to be something about it that I made. When we “make” caramel apples by melting caramel and dipping apples in it–what exactly is it that we made? We’ve combined ingredients that were, by themselves, ready to eat and this–to me–doesn’t cut it. It’s not that it’s wrong or bad, really. It’s just not gratifying. If I’m going to invest the time and energy into making something, I want to make it.
So I present to you, though not for the first time I’m sure, caramel apples that we can make and be proud of. (Though, I admit, for all my snootiness, these could prettier :) ).
Real Caramel Apples
- 6 really good apples
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup corn syrup (Corn syrup helps to separate sucrose molecules so that the mixture doesn’t crystallize.)
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 cups ground, toasted pecans (or topping of your choice)
- 1 tbsp coarse ground sea salt
- sticks–for your apples. I used kabob sticks, some use back-yard sticks, others get special ones at a craft store and decorate them. Whatever you please. :)
- Wash, dry, and skewer apples. (Make sure your apples are dry or the caramel won’t stick.) Set aside.
- Toast pecans in the oven or in a dry skillet. Nuts are ready when they become fragrant. Mix with the tbsp sea salt and set aside on a plate or in a bowl.
- Create a work station. Lay out your apples. Toasted pecans. Cookie sheet lined with oiled parchment paper. You’ll need to work fast, so setting up a work station is important.
- Combine sugar and corn syrup in a heavy bottomed pan over medium heat; stir occasionally until mixture starts to bubble.
- When the mixture starts to darken, swirl the pot to even out.
- When the mixture becomes a light caramel, add the butter and cream, and salt (See Food52 video for more). Remove from heat.
- Now you’re ready to start dipping your apples. Work fast! If you take too long the caramel will start to set and the caramel won’t stick.
- Dip apples into caramel and then twirl. This video is a little annoying, but it demonstrates how to properly twirl and release. Immediately dip into salted nuts and place parchment paper to cool. Repeat.
- Any leftover caramel should absolutely be set in a glass dish with nuts and chocolate to cool. Cut into pieces and enjoy long after the apples are gone.