Make your own Homemade Gourmet Caramel Apples for a fraction of the candy shop price. Crisp, tart granny smith apples covered in homemade caramel and gourmet toppings made right at home.
Caramel apples are a fabulous special treat that can be enjoyed year round.
These gourmet caramel apples are made with the best homemade caramel.
Add your favorite chopped nuts, chocolate, sprinkles, etc to make them your very own and totally gourmet. The “apple pie” caramel apple is my ultimate favorite!
HOW TO MAKE CARAMEL APPLES
- Preparation: Before you even begin making the caramel, make sure your apples are washed thoroughly. This helps to remove any wax or residue that may prevent the caramel from sticking to the apple. Completely dry the apples and remove the stems.
- Sticking the Apples: Firmly push the apple sticks or popsicle sticks into the top of each apple. Ensure it’s securely in place.
- Caramel Dipping: Once your caramel is ready (recipe below), tilt the pot slightly, and dip each apple into the caramel, swirling it around to get an even coating. Let the excess caramel drip off for a few seconds.
- Toppings: Before your caramel sets, you can roll the apples in toppings like crushed nuts, mini chocolate chips, or even crushed cookies. To make it even more gourmet, drizzle melted white or dark chocolate over the top (after the caramel has cooled).
- Setting: Place your dipped apples onto a tray lined with parchment paper or nonstick silicone mat. Let them cool and set completely. This could take a couple of hours, but if you’re in a hurry, you can pop them in the fridge to speed up the process.
- Enjoy: Dive into your sweet tart homemade caramel apples or wrap , box or bag for a gourmet gift for friends, family or neighbors.
Homemade Caramel Apples: FAQs
What variety of apple is best for caramel apples?
When diving into the world of caramel apples, Granny Smiths tend to be the front-runners. Their tart and crisp flavor creates a perfect balance with the sweetness of the caramel. Look for ones that are firm to the touch and sport a vibrant green hue.
While Granny Smiths are undeniably a classic choice for gourmet caramel apples, the beauty is that you’re not restricted to them. Feel free to explore and use your favorite apple variety!
Selecting the perfect caramel for your Apples
Wondering which caramel gives the best coating for your apples? Look for a caramel that offers a thick, luscious coat but remains soft and delightful upon biting once cooled.
I have a soft spot for homemade caramel! Check out the recipe below to make my top pick for caramel apples. It’s a game-changer — straightforward, with a minimal chance of crystallization and a mouthwatering taste.
Of all the variations I’ve experimented with (and trust me, it’s been quite a few!), the recipe provided below truly stands out as the champion.
Short on time? Here’s a quick caramel fix!
Pressed for time but still craving that caramel apple goodness? No worries! While homemade caramel (recipe below) is a treat, store-bought caramel squares work perfectly fine for a quick alternative.
When I opt for pre-packaged caramel squares, I like to enhance their consistency by adding a touch of cream. Typically, mixing in 2-3 tablespoons of cream to 1 cup of caramel squares gives it a smooth, dippable texture. However, if you prefer a faster setting caramel or a firmer bite, simply melt the caramel squares on their own without the added cream.
Should I wash my apples before dipping?
Yes, you should definitely wash your apples before dipping… but make sure to handle your apples with care. There are several reasons for this:
- Removing Dirt and Pesticides: Apples, like all produce, may have traces of dirt, pesticides, or other residues on their surface. Washing ensures you’re getting rid of these potential contaminants.
- Eliminating Wax: Commercially sold apples often have a wax coating to make them shinier and more appealing. This wax can also act as a barrier, preventing the caramel from adhering properly to the apple. Washing helps to remove some of this wax.
- Improved Adhesion: A clean apple surface ensures that the caramel can stick properly. Any residue or barrier can lead to uneven coating or make the caramel slide off.
Make sure NOT to puncture of scratch the apples skin as this can cause bubbles in the caramel later.
Why are bubbles forming under my caramel after dipping?
There are a few reasons bubbles might form under the caramel when you dip your apples:
- Micro scratches or punctures: If the apple was handled roughly during prep this can cause scratches in the skin or punctures. When the hot caramel coats the apple the apple will heat and moisture will come to the surface. If there are scratches or punctures this will cause the caramel to form bubbles. This has been the number one culprit for me when making homemade caramel apples.
- Residual Moisture: If the apples are not dried properly after washing, the trapped moisture can turn into steam when the cold apple is dipped into the hot caramel, leading to bubble formation.
- Air Pockets: If the apple isn’t dipped smoothly or if it’s pulled out of the caramel too quickly, air can get trapped, forming bubbles.
- Natural Imperfections: Sometimes, the natural nooks and crannies on an apple’s surface can trap air, leading to bubbles.
To avoid these issues, ensure your apples are carefully washed and completely dry. Also, dip them slowly and steadily to ensure a smooth, bubble-free coating.
If sizable bubbles appear, swiftly puncture them with a toothpick before the caramel sets. Strategically place toppings to mask any imperfections.
HOW MUCH DO CARAMEL APPLES COST?
Crafting gourmet caramel apples at home can be delightfully affordable!
I often purchase ingredients in large quantities, keeping an eye out for promotional deals. I’ve sourced the following ingredients at these remarkable prices:
- Dark brown sugar (2 lb) – $1.19 at Macey’s, costing $0.60 per batch.
- Corn syrup (1-gallon) – $9.99 at Macey’s, translating to $0.63 per batch.
- Sweetened condensed milk (1 can) – $1.23 at WinCo, which sums up to $1.23 per batch.
- Butter (1 lb) – $1.99 at Smith’s, or $1.00 for each batch.
- White chocolate (12 oz) – $1.49 at Macey’s, adding $0.05-0.10 per apple.
- Mini chocolate chips (12 oz) – $1.49 at Macey’s, contributing $0.10 to each apple.
- Dry roasted peanuts (16 oz) – $1.99 at WinCo, at $0.14 per apple.
- Almonds (1 lb) – $3.99 at Sprouts Farmers Market, costing $0.27 for every apple.
- Granny Smith apples (1 lb, or 2-3 apples) – $0.88 at Sprouts, ranging from $0.33 to $0.44 per apple.
- Apple sticks – Depending on the type, these can vary from $0.01 to $0.10, be it flat popsicle sticks or round bamboo sticks.
Given these costs, a batch of my homemade caramel can generously coat 12-15 apples, contingent on their size. Using smaller apples, which I found to be 3 per pound, the total expense per gourmet caramel apple ranged from $0.72 to $0.94, depending on the chosen toppings.
Admittedly, these prices were a steal. Even so, if you were to source these ingredients at regular market prices, I’m quite certain the cost would stay below $2.00 per apple (2023).
Given such affordability, they serve as the perfect gourmet treats for gifting or celebrating special moments!
EATING CARAMEL APPLES – MADE EASY
To truly savor a caramel apple without the mess, consider slicing it into bite-sized pieces. Here’s a foolproof method I swear by:
Picture a game of tic-tac-toe. Slice your apple in this pattern, and you’ll effortlessly remove the core while ensuring every piece boasts a generous caramel coat. However, if you’re feeling bold and traditional, dive right in and enjoy it straight off the stick. It might get messy, but the delightful taste remains unchanged!
GOURMET TOPPING IDEAS FOR YOUR CARAMEL APPLES
Elevate your caramel apples from ordinary to gourmet with these enticing toppings:
- Nuts: Think peanuts, almonds, or pecans for a crunchy bite.
- Chocolate: Drizzle with white, milk, or dark chocolate for added richness.
- Candies: Options abound with M&Ms, Reese’s pieces, Snickers, Butterfingers, and more.
- Cookies: Crushed Oreos or graham crackers can add an exciting texture.
- Sprinkles: Because who doesn’t love a burst of color?
Feeling creative? Combine these toppings for some decadent caramel apple variants:
- Apple Pie Caramel Apple: A thin white chocolate coating, rolled in cinnamon sugar. It’s reminiscent of a classic apple pie. This flavor is my family’s all-time favorite!
- Smores Caramel Apple: Enveloped in crushed graham crackers, chocolate drizzle, and topped with mini marshmallows.
- Turtle Caramel Apple: Pecan-coated and generously drizzled with chocolate.
- Tuxedo Caramel Apple: A dual dip – first in white chocolate, followed by milk or dark chocolate.
- Birthday Cake Caramel Apple: Dive into white chocolate and roll in vibrant sprinkles.
- Hot Chocolate Caramel Apple: Dipped in milk chocolate and adorned with mini marshmallows.
- Oreo Lover Caramel Apple: A delicate white chocolate layer, rolled in crushed Oreo goodness.
After putting so much effort and creativity into your caramel apples, you surely don’t want them to go to waste too quickly. Here’s how you can store them:
- Room Temperature: If you plan on eating your caramel apples within 2 days, you can store them at room temperature. Just ensure they’re in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.
- Refrigeration: For longer shelf life, you can refrigerate your caramel apples. Store them in an airtight container to prevent any moisture or other flavors from seeping in. They can last for up to a week when refrigerated.
- Revive a Chilled Apple: When you’re ready to eat or serve a refrigerated caramel apple, allow it to sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes. This ensures the caramel is a bit softer and more enjoyable to bite into.
A Little Background On The Caramel Apple
The tradition of coating fruit in sugar syrup dates back at least to the Renaissance. The caramel apple as we know it, however, was purportedly created in the 1950s when a Kraft Foods employee named Dan Walker melted down some of the company’s large stock of Halloween caramels, then dipped apples into the resultant concoction. It was a sweet “accident.”
Today, the caramel apple is a nostalgic favorite around Halloween but can be enjoyed year-round, especially when we put gourmet twists on it as listed above!
Join The Caramel Apple Conversation
I hope you’ve enjoyed this comprehensive guide to creating your very own gourmet caramel apples at home! Remember, the key is creativity. Feel free to mix and match toppings or even come up with your own unique combinations.
What’s the most unique caramel apple you’ve ever tried or heard of? Or perhaps you have a special memory associated with this treat? I’d love to hear your stories and see your caramel apple creations. Share your photos with the hashtag #KitchenCentsRecipes and let’s get the caramel conversation rolling!
Thanks for reading, and happy dipping!
More Fall Recipes You Might Enjoy:
There’s nothing quite like biting into a homemade caramel apple, especially when you’ve made it yourself! They’re perfect for festive occasions, birthdays, and even just a regular day when you’re craving something sweet and special. Enjoy your gourmet treat without the gourmet price tag!
Homemade Caramel Apples Recipe Card:
- 12-15 granny smith apples
- gourmet toppings, chopped nuts, chocolate, white chocolate, cinnamon sugar, sprinkles, chopped candy or cookies
- popsicle or apple sticks
- 1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
- 1 lb dark brown sugar, about 2 1/4 cups packed
- 1 cup salted butter
- 1 cup corn syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Wash and dry apples. Carefully poke stick straight into tops of apples. Place in fridge to chill while you make the caramel.
- In a large pot add sweetened condensed milk, dark brown sugar, salted butter, and corn syrup. Cook over medium to medium-high heat stirring constantly to avoid bottom from burning.
- Mixture will begin to bubble and increase in volume. Avoid scraping sides of pan as this can make the sugar in the caramel to crystallize and go "grainy." Using a calibrated candy thermometer, cook mixture to 235 degrees F or soft ball stage.
- Remove from heat and add vanilla.
- Let caramel cool slightly (5 minutes or so) before dipping apples. This will ensure you get a nice coat of caramel on the apples. The warmer the caramel, the thinner the caramel coating will be and the more it may "pool" when placed on a cooling tray.
Gourmet Caramel Apples:
- Dip each apple into the hot caramel to coat. Let excess drip off then turn slowly to allow caramel to begin to cool. If dipping or rolling in nuts, cookies or candy, do that before caramel sets and hardens.
- If adding chocolate or chocolate drizzle place caramel-coated apple onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and place in the fridge to cool. Once cooled drizzle or coat with chocolate and add other toppings as desired.
- Work quickly as the caramel in the pot will begin to harden as it cools. If the caramel becomes too hard to coat apples smoothly, warm over medium heat until mixture is fluid again. Don't overheat.
- Once apples are finished and cooled completely, enjoy or wrap for gifts.
When washing apples, do not use any kind of abrasive material as this can damage or scratch the skin of the apple. Damage to the skin may cause air bubbles to form under the caramel.
If you don't have time to make homemade caramel, store-bought squares can be substituted. If using store-bought add 2-3 tablespoons cream to 1 cup caramel squares when melting to soften caramel.
Gourmet caramel apples are more easily eaten if cut up. To enjoy caramel and toppings with every bite, cut apple in a tick-tac-toe pattern which will leave the stick and core in the center and 8 pieces of apple around it.
Apples will store in the fridge for several days.
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Updated: 09.12.23 O.P. 12.6.18