This is a recipe for REAL caramel apples. As in, you make the caramel vs. melting a bunch of hard little cubes. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for the cubes ... but for me I only use them when I make my "gourmet" caramel apples (ie: caramel, chocolate, and peanut apples) because the caramel hardens faster. But when it comes to plain caramel apples, I like home-made because you get a stronger butter and vanilla flavor. Mmmmm!
I got the idea to make them after someone at the family Halloween party (was it you, Kim?) made some killer home-made caramel apples. I ate two in one sitting. I only had 1 cup of cream, so I halved the recipe, but if you follow the recipe as is you can get 8 - 10 apples out of it (depending on size).
Now, when it comes to choosing apples, I prefer Fuji apples for their crispness and almost cinnamon-y flavor. I typically don't like Granny Smiths because they can be too tart for me, but I understand why many people prefer them - the tart of the apple cuts the sweet of the caramel. I am tempted to try Golden Delicious because they have the thinnest skins and would therefore be the easiest to eat. But ultimately, just use whatever apple floats your boat.
To spear the apples you can use several different things: popsicle sticks, lollipop sticks, wooden dowels, etc. When taking a gourmet caramel apple class, I was taught to use wooden dowels (you can buy them in the cake decorating section) that were sharpened into a point with a pencil sharpener. This time around all I had were extra-long lollipop sticks. Whatever your weapon of choice, make sure the apples are:
1. Clean and dry
2. Room temperature
3. Padded underneath (place the apple on top of a folded towel, for example) to prevent bruising
I use a meat mallot to tap the dowel/stick into the center of the apple. Tap it gently and try not to go further than half-way into the apple. Now you're ready to make the caramel!
8 - 10 impaled small-medium sized apples
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1 tsp. salt
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup butter at room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
In a large, heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, syrup, and salt. Over med-low heat, bring mixture to a boil and heat to 240 degrees.
Stir in butter and cream (the mixture will bubble up). Add vanilla.
Return to a boil and continue cooking until mixture returns to 240 degrees (soft-ball stage).
Remove from heat and let cool to 200 degrees before coating apples.
Place apples on heavily buttered dish or cookie sheet. Refrigerate until firm.
I later cut the sticks because they were much too long and looked pretty dumb. Don't you love how "straight" they are? This is why I prefer dowels!
I only had 4 Fuji apples, so I poured the leftover caramel into a bowl and used it as a dip. Super yummy!