There are several ways to make caramel for dipping apples. The quickest method, of course, is to melt store-bought candy caramels. The second easiest method is to cook a can of sweetened condensed milk in boiling water until it becomes very thick and caramel colored. I often use the second method for dipping apples.
However, today I decided to go old school. I wanted to make homemade caramel apples like the ones I remember from my childhood. Caramel made from sugar, real butter, pure vanilla, and either cream or sweetened condensed milk. I went with the sweetened condensed milk version. Don’t worry, this homemade caramel takes just minutes to cook and it is super delicious!
Here are some tips for making perfect caramel apples…
- Use organic apples if possible. Organic apples do not have a wax coating on them like regular store-bought apples do.
- Remove stems from apples. Clean apples and also remove any wax if not using organic apples. To clean and remove wax, dip each apple for 2-3 seconds in very hot, but not boiling, water. Wipe and dry apples with a clean towel. Note: Do not dip apples more than 2-3 seconds in hot water, or the water will begin to soften and cook the outside of the apple. Never use boiling water.
- Once apples are dipped in hot water, place them in the refrigerator for a few minutes until they are slightly chilled.
- Have all your crushed garnishes prepared and ready before cooking the caramel. If using melted chocolate to drizzle over apples, melt and drizzle the chocolate over the dipped apples, after the caramel has set.
- Allow cooked caramel to cool for at least 5 minutes before dipping apples.
- Use parchment paper to place the apples on, after dipping them. Don’t use waxed paper.
Granny Smith apples are dipped in a creamy and delicious homemade caramel coating and garnished with crushed nuts. Just like mom made them!
- 7 medium Granny Smith apples
- 1 can sweetened condensed milk
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 1 cup light corn syrup
- 1 stick butter
- Dash of salt (omit if using salted butter)
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Crushed pecans for garnish, optional
- Crushed candies, melted chocolate for garnish, optional
- Prepare any garnishes and have them ready to use when caramel is ready for dipping.
- Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- Wash and dry apples. Dip apples in very hot, but not boiling, water for 2-3 seconds, (no longer). Wipe down and dry apples with a clean kitchen towel. Remove stems. Transfer the apples to the cookie sheet and place in a refrigerator while you’re making the caramel.
- Add the sugars, butter, salt, and milk to a 2-quart heavy pot and place over medium-low heat. Bring mixture to a boil while constantly stirring and keep stirring steadily but not vigorously until caramel reaches a soft ball stage on a candy thermometer, 242 degrees, or forms a firm ball when tested in cold water. See my post on how to test candy in cold water for tips on this.
- Allow the caramel to cool for at least 5 minutes, stirring it at least 2 to 3 times while it’s cooling. Meantime, remove the apples from the refrigerator. Insert a wooden skewer or popsicle stick about two-thirds of the way through the center of each apple,
- Dip each caramel in the caramel and roll in crushed nuts or other garnishes, if desired, and transfer to the parchment lined cookie sheet.
Caramel apples will stay fresh at room temperature for up to 2 days.
Keywords: caramel apples, apples, caramel, Fall, Halloween,