Apples from the store often have a wax coating on them which should be removed before attempting to coat them in caramel. To remove you can dip the apples in boiling water mixed with a splash of vinegar for a few seconds, remove and thoroughly dry.
For the caramel:
- 1 cup white granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1/2 cup dark corn syrup
- 1 tablespoon dark molasses
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (omit if using salted butter)
- 6 medium apples (rinsed and patted dry, room temperature)
For the toppings:
- Assorted decorations (such as chopped nuts, chopped raisins, mini M&M's and candy sprinkles)
- 6 sturdy lollipop sticks or chopsticks
- A candy thermometer or instant read thermometer
1 Combine the caramel ingredients: Place sugar, butter, cream, corn syrup, molasses, vanilla, and salt (omit if using salted butter) in a thick-bottomed 3 to 4-quart saucepan. Heat on medium to medium low heat and stir slowly with a wooden spoon until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved. If you see sugar crystals on the edge of the pan, brush them down with a wet pastry brush.
2 Make the caramel: Let the caramel mixture come to a rolling boil, adjusting the heat so that the caramel doesn't boil over the pan. Continue to stir in a slow figure-eight pattern with a wooden spoon.
Monitor the temperature of the caramel with a candy thermometer. When it reaches 240°F (after about 15 minutes or so of boiling), remove from heat and pour into a metal bowl.
Let the hot caramel mixture sit in the bowl until the temperature cools to just below 200°F, at which point you are ready to dip the apples.
3 Prep the apples: While the caramel sauce is cooking and cooling, line a baking sheet with either Silpat or buttered aluminum foil.
Insert the sticks (either lollipop sticks, thick wooden skewers, or chopsticks) into the center of the apples through the stem end.
4 Dip apples: The caramel sauce will thicken as it cools. When the cooling caramel sauce has thickened enough so that the caramel will form a coating on the apples and not just slide off, dip the apples into the caramel, one at a time.
Swirl each apple around in the sauce so that the caramel sauce completely coats the apple, except for the very top near the stick.
Pull the apple up from the sauce and let the excess caramel gently drip back into the bowl.
5 Chill: Place the coated apple onto the lined baking sheet. Some caramel sauce will form a little pool at the base of each apple. Repeat with the remaining apples, then refrigerate for 15 minutes.
6 Press caramel up against the sides of the apples: Once the caramel has chilled 15 minutes and is cool enough to touch but still malleable, remove from the refrigerator and press the caramel that has pooled at the bottom of the apples up against the side of the apples.
7 Decorate: If you are using coatings such as sprinkles or chopped nuts, roll the caramel apples in them now. Then return the apples to the refrigerator and chill for at least another hour.
Refrigerate until ready to serve. Let the apples come to room temperature before eating. The caramel apples will last 2 weeks chilled.
If giving as gifts, wrap them in plastic wrap.