Easy, Perfect Caramel & Candy Apples Recipes

candied apples
There's nothing like a delicious crisp apple enrobed in sweet cinnamon candy or creamy caramel. It's pretty much the ultimate fall treat. But how long have those enticingly displayed apples at the grocery store been sitting there? Not to mention the really fancy ones with chocolate and candy in addition to the apple do not come cheap. Looking for ideas I saw one selling for $8.25! For one apple! It's easy to make your own, and you can dress them up any way you like.


To make candy apples, you need (recipe originally from DashRecipes.com):

  • 3 cups sugar
  • 2 cups light corn syrup
  • 4 cups of cinnamon red hot candies
  • 4 teaspoons of red food coloring
  • 8 wooden ice cream or lollipop sticks
  • 8 small apples (look for the ones sold in bags as "lunchbox apples" versus the ones sold loose -- the big honkers are too hard to eat!)

How to make them:

1. About 2 hours before serving, in heavy, deep 3-quart saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup, candies, red food coloring, and 1 cup water.

2. Place over medium heat and bring to a boil without stirring. Set a candy thermometer in the pan, making sure it does not touch the bottom, and continue cooking, without stirring, until the temperature reaches 290°F, about 20 minutes.

3. Meanwhile grease a cookie sheet and insert ice cream sticks or lollipop sticks partway through the stem end of each apple.

4. When the sugar syrup is ready, remove the pan from the heat. Remove the thermometer. Swirl each apple in the hot cinnamon-candy syrup to coat evenly. Lift out the apples and swirl over the saucepan for a few more seconds to catch the drips.

5. Place the candy apples on a cookie sheet to cool for at least an hour, or swirl them in some add-ons while the sugar mixture is still liquid. Have all your extras ready to go in bowls before you begin, and roll the still-wet candy apple over the surface.

Yummy ideas for candy apples include more redhots, nuts, sprinkles, chocolate chips, even gummybears! For a good visual aid on how to make these as well as a slightly different recipe, check out instructables.com.

For caramel apples, you can either  melt a whole bunch of those little wrapped caramels (About.com has an easy crockpot caramel apple recipe using those) or make your own. Here's a recipe from Chow.com:

  • 8 large apples
  • 8 chopsticks or craft sticks
  • 2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup dark corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/4 stick)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt


How to make them:

1. Wash the apples under hot water to get off any wax coating, then dry thoroughly. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat and set aside.

2. Set the apples stem side up, and push the sticks down into the apple cores; set aside. Prepare an ice water bath by filling a bowl halfway with ice and water.

3. Combine the light brown sugar, cream, dark corn syrup and butter in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook until the mixture registers 250°F on a candy thermometer, about 10 minutes.

4. Immediately dip the bottom of the saucepan in the ice water bath and let it chill until the bubbles have subsided, about 1 minute. Stir until stiff caramel from the bottom is incorporated into the warm caramel on top. Remove from the water bath.

5. Dip the apples one at a time into the caramel, rotating once to coat 3/4 of the way up the sides. Lift the apple straight up from the caramel, letting the excess drip back into the pot until the drips have slowed, about 10 to 15 seconds. Flip the apple so the stem is facing downward and let the caramel set, about 10 to 15 seconds more.

6. Place on the prepared baking sheet, stem side up, and repeat with the remaining apples. (If the caramel gets too hard to coat the apples well, set the pan over low heat and rewarm, stirring constantly, until the caramel is loose and pourable.)

7. Refrigerate the apples until set, at least 10 minutes. The apples can be made and stored in the refrigerator up to 1 day in advance.

Again, add any topping while the caramel is still soft. Anything melty like chocolate chips wouldn't be a good choice here, but mini-M&Ms, chopped cashews or almonds, coconut, pretzels, etc. would all be delicious, and candy corn would be Halloween-perfect.
Of course, the ultimate indulgent treat is a chocolate-dipped caramel apple dusted with crushed candy bits. Elizabeth Bau has a delicious-looking recipe on About.com. You follow the procedure for caramel apples and let them set ... meanwhile, melt a 10-oz. bag of chocolate chips with 2 tablespoons of shortening, and chop up your topping of choice. She uses Snickers bars, but Oreos, mini peanut butter cups, Butterfinger or Heath/Skor bars would all be amazing.
When the apples are ready, follow the same procedure you did for the other apples ... dip, rotate, roll through the toppings and sit upright to dry.  And voila, you've got an upscale-looking treat at a fraction for the price of the fancy candy-shop ones.
Do you like caramel apples or candy apples, and do you like them plain or with toppings?

Image via ariane_hunter/Flickr


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