You've all seen these at the chocolate shops in the mall, at amusement parks, and desert shops. They can be pricey but they are soooo delicious. My husband and I perfected the recipe years ago and it is a family tradition to make them at Halloween time as well a fun gift for friends and neighbors at Christmas time. They are not as hard as you would think and with a little practice and a few tricks that I will show you in this tutorial...you will be making apples that look just as good and taste just as good (or better in my opinion) than the ones you can buy.
We have experimented with lots of combinations of apples and toppings and we always come back to this simple but delicious combination. Be sure to watch the video at the end of this tutorial, it has great tips on how to make your apples look as good as these do.
Here is what you need:
4-6 Granny Smith Apples: We have tried lots of different kinds of apples, but the tart flavor and the firm flesh of this apple is a perfect combination to the sweetness of the caramel and chocolate.
1 package of Kraft Caramels: You can experiment with other kinds of caramels, even make your own but we have had good success with these. We also prefer the wrapped squares over the new round caramel pellets they make.
1 package of Nestle white chocolate: Once again you can use other brands but we have tried several and this one is the one that goes on the smoothest without getting annoying clumps that can ruin the look of an apple.
A prepared cooling stand: I will show you how to make one later in the tutorial
bags to place apple in when done
ribbon: Optional for gift giving.
Step 1: Step 1: prepare you apples
First remove the stem from your apples and peel off any stickers (see first photo). Then you will want to thoroughly wash and dry them. Now they are ready to have the sticks put in the tops. You can buy prepared sticks we find our at Walmart in the cake decorating section (see second photo). Or you can make your own by buying dowels about the same diameter as a pencil. Simply cut the dowels in 6 inch pieces and sharpen one end. You can pre-soak the sharp end of the dowels in lemon juice if you would like. It isn't mandatory but it keeps the apple from turning brown around the dowel, and looks a little nicer when cutting it to eat. Putting the sticks in the apples takes a strong hand. Use a dish towel to help hold the apple and protect your hand while pushing in the stick (see third photo). Push it in as strait as possible and about 2 inches into the apple (see forth photo). If you don't get it in far enough the apple may fall off when putting on the caramel and the chocolate.
Step 2: Step 2: Make your cooling stand
To make this you will need:
a 2x8 piece of lumber cut into an 18 inch piece: You might be able to beg a scrap from a construction site or from home depots scrap bins, you can see from the photo it doesn't need to be anything special just any old scrap will do. 18 inches is just an approximate size so if the piece you get is a little larger or smaller don't worry, you just want it to fit at least 6 apples and also fit into your refrigerator. If you don't have access to a saw you can also get Home Depot to cut your wood for you but you will have to buy the whole piece.
A drill with a drill bit a little larger than your dowels.
Once you have your wood cut to the approximate size listed above, it is time to drill a few holes for the dowels to sit in. Drill a few holes around the edges at an angle so the apples will angle out and not touch the apples. See photo in next step to see how the apples angle out). Also drill a few holes down the middle.The board doesn't need to be pretty or precise just make sure the holes are far enough apart to so the apples won't touch while cooling.
If you don't have access to hardware to make this don't worry. We started out using a few pieces of floral foam wedged into a 9x13 pan. This isn't as sturdy and you have to be a bit more cautious when placing your apples because they are much more likely to tip over but it works and is a great alternative especially if you are only doing a few apples at a time. One final option is if you have a few extra people hanging around you could also just have them hold the apples while cooling. This will take a lot longer so it isn't the best solution.
Step 3: Step 3: Prepare your caramels
Unwrap the caramels (see first photo), you will need the whole bag so if you want a few to snack on be sure to buy and extra bag :) Place them in a double boiler with 1 Tablespoon of water, this my vary according to the area you live in. For our double boiler we just use a regular sauce pan with a metal bowl on top (see second photo). The shape of a bowl is better for dipping than a regular double boiler. You may need to experiment with the amount of water you put in yours. I know the bag suggests 2 Tablespoons but we have found for our area of the country that 1 T. worked better and kept the caramel at a better consistency if you get the caramel too thin it will slide off the apple. (We live in a high altitude dry climate). Heat on medium heat, stir occasionally so they heat evenly but not too much or you will make bubbles in the caramel. Once the caramel is reduced to a liquid that is easy to work with it is time to dip your apples.
There is a technique to dipping the apples that is a little hard to explain. So I have included a video of my husband at the end of this tutorial dipping the apples....he is much better at it than I am.
Here are the written instructions:
Dip the apple and turn so that all of the apple is covered except the top portion near the stick. Now pull up and let all the excess caramel to drip off back into the pan (see third photo). This takes about 30 seconds. Once the caramel is thin enough use a small spatula to remove the excess from the bottom. turn and shake to smooth the bottom out. It is important to only have a thin layer of caramel, for one thing your apple won't look as pretty and another is that you won't have enough caramel to cover all of your apples. Now that the apple is covered it is time to put it in the cooling tray you made. Place the apple upside down to cool (see fourth photo). This is also not mandatory you could also let them dry right side up on a sheet of wax paper but they will have a large pool of caramel at the bottom and not look as pretty. We like to empty out a shelf in the refrigerator to put the cooling stand so the apples cool quicker or if it is a cold day, between 40-25 degrees Fahrenheit you can also place it outside. Caution don't do this in your freezer or on a really cold day or the apples will get too cold and the caramel and/or chocolate will crack.
Step 4: Step 4: Dipping it in the white chocolate
While the caramel is cooling you can get your white chocolate ready. We use white chocolate because it doesn't have to be tempered like regular chocolate. Also I just like the flavor better with this combination. You can experiment with different kinds of chocolate and toppings once you get this method down. Place the whole bag of white chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and microwave on medium high 50-70% for 1 min and stir. Keep microwaving at 50-70% at 10-15 second intervals until chocolate is just barely melted. Be careful not to overheat or heat too fast or it will seize up. You will know when it is done when the chocolates just start to melt (see first photo and video at the end of the tutorial) a few may even retain their shape as you stir, don't worry give it a couple minutes and it will all be melted. If you are unsure how it should look please watch the video, it will show you how to melt the chocolate as well as how to apply the chocolate to the apple. You can also use the double boiler method but we prefer to microwave and reheat as needed. You must never get any water or liquid into the chocolate or it will immediately seize up. The double boiler method sometimes gets little drips of water into the chocolate and causes it to clump.
While the chocolate is melting you also need to get the sugar and cinnamon mixture put together. In a large bowl combine 1 cup of sugar and 4 tablespoons of cinnamon (see second photo) The bowl needs to be large enough to catch the sugar as you sprinkle it over the apple with a spoon, again watch the video and it will show you how to apply.
Now that you have both your chocolate and sugar/cinnamon combo ready, it is time to dip your apples. Dip the apples in the chocolate in a similar fashion as the caramel. Covering the entire apple except the top near the stick. We like to leave a small band of the caramel showing just for looks. Shake the apple over the bowl of chocolate until the chocolate is as thin as you would like it. It is important to not coat the apple with too thick of a coat or the chocolate will wrinkle when drying. The video at the end of this tutorial will show you exactly how to do this.
Before the chocolate cools too much you need to apply the cinnamon sugar mixture so that it will stick. So immediately after covering in chocolate go strait to your cinnamon sugar bowl. Hold the apple over the bowl and use a spoon to sprinkle the mixture over the chocolate. Once the apple is covered place it back into the cooling stands you made (see third photo). Let it cool until chocolate has hardened, you can speed this up by placing it in the refrigerator or outside like you did with the caramel. Just remember not to let it get too cold or it will crack.
Step 5: Step 5: Finishing touches
Once your chocolate is cooled you can place it right side up on a piece of wax paper or aluminum foil. You can call your apples done at this point or you can add a few finishing touches. These little touches are especially nice when giving apples away as gifts.
Reheat your chocolate and then use a fork to drizzle a little bit across the top. Refer to the video to see exactly how to do this. Let it dry and place your apples in a clear plastic bag. Use a bit of ribbon to tie up the bag and you have a wonderful gift perfect for your friends, neighbors and even your kids school teachers. Everyone loves these apples and are so excited when we come to the door with our Christmas gift every year.
Step 6: Step 6: How to eat your apple
You wouldn't think this would need explaining, but not everyone is experienced at eating this type of caramel apple. If you eat them wrong you will not get the full flavor of the tart apple mixing with the sweetness of the caramel and chocolate.
You should keep your apples stored in the refrigerator, they will last for several weeks this way. When you are ready to eat them take them out of the refrigerator and let them warm to room temperature. This can take an hour or longer so prepare ahead of time. If you get impatient and cut them too soon, the caramel and chocolate will come right off of the apple. You can tell in the pictures above I got impatient for taking the photos and didn't wait quite long enough. The caramel and the chocolate came off a bit.
Once they are warm enough. Use a large knife to cut the apple in half. Core the apple. Now you can cut your apple into thin slices working your way around each half. Only cut as many as you are wanting to eat at the time. The apples will brown and not look as nice. For parties I only cut a couple apples at a time and then when the slices are almost gone I will start cutting a couple more.
Step 7: Video tutorial
For those of you who are visual learners like I am. Here is a video it includes the following:
Caramel dipping techniques
Melting your white chocolate
Chocolate dipping techniques
How to apply cinnamon sugar
And applying decorative chocolate topping
For everything else please read through the tutorial.