The Washington Post

            Caramel Apples

            Caramel Apples 6.000

            Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post; food styling by Marie Ostrosky for The Washington Post

            Oct 21, 2020

            Caramel apples are a wonderful fall treat, and you don't need to buy expensive ones in your local candy shop or the iffy ones in your grocery store to enjoy them at home. With a little patience and precision, this recipe gets you a gorgeous, glossy caramel that takes happily to whatever toppings you want to add after dipping.

            The caramel here is cooked to a fairly high temperature, which means it sets up with a bit of a crackle, though still plenty chewy. If you like a softer caramel, aim for a slightly lower temperature, but keep in mind it might not set exactly the same. You'll have extra caramel, which you need to have plenty of space to dip. Store in the refrigerator and reheat to pour over ice cream.

            If you can, purchase unwaxed or farmers market apples. Wax can prevent the caramel from adhering.

            An instant-read thermometer, ideally one that can be clipped to the side of the pan, is necessary for this recipe. You'll need six 5- to 6-inch candy sticks, wooden dowels or paper lollipop sticks. Popsicle sticks or, in a pinch, chopsticks will work, too.

            Storage Notes: The caramel apples can be stored in the refrigerator for several days.


            When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

            Tested size: 6 servings

            • 2 cups granulated sugar
            • 1/2 cup water
            • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
            • 1/2 cup heavy cream
            • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
            • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
            • Pinch kosher salt
            • 6 medium very crisp apples (such as Honeycrisp, Red Delicious, Pink Lady or Granny Smith; see headnote), well washed and dried
            • Finely chopped peanuts, desiccated coconut, crushed candy or other topping of choice (optional)


            In a tall-sided, small saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the sugar, water and corn syrup. Stir a few times before the sugar begins to boil to combine the ingredients. Attach a candy thermometer to the inside of the pan (or monitor often with a handheld instant-read thermometer) and bring the syrup to a boil. Cook until the syrup begins to turn a deep amber color, then swirl the syrup to even out the color. Continue to cook until the syrup is a deep amber and the thermometer reads between 375 and 380 degrees, then remove from the heat. Be patient, as this can take as long as 20 minutes — just don't look away because the caramel can burn quickly. Carefully and gradually pour in the cream and gently whisk to combine. It will bubble vigorously, so you may want to stand back a little (you can use an oven mitt, too, to protect your hand from the steam). Stir in the butter, vanilla and salt until smooth. Keep off the heat but keep the thermometer attached to the pan.

            Pierce the apples through the stem ends about halfway through with the candy sticks. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper lightly sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.

            When the temperature of the caramel dips to between 180 and 190 degrees, dip an apple, using the stick as a handle and coating completely. Try to move the apple around as little as possible in the caramel to prevent air pockets or bubbles from forming. Instead, tip the caramel around the apple. Let the excess caramel drip off the bottom and use a silicone spatula to help remove any large amount of caramel, as it will pool around the apple when you set it down to cool on the lined baking sheet. Dip the coated apples in your choice of topping, if desired. Repeat with the remaining apples; if the caramel gets too thick for dipping, gently reheat on the stove top over low heat, back up to around 180 degrees, stirring constantly.

            Transfer the baking sheet to the refrigerator to let the caramel set and cool completely before serving or wrapping the apples, about 30 minutes. At that point, the apples can be eaten or stored in the refrigerator for a few days; let the apples come to room temperature before serving, for a slightly softer texture.

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            Recipe Source

            Adapted from a Food Network recipe.

            Tested by Becky Krystal.

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            Nutritional Facts

            Calories per serving (with half the caramel): 297

            % Daily Values*

            Total Fat: 6g 9%

            Saturated Fat: 3g 15%

            Cholesterol: 19mg 6%

            Sodium: 22mg 1%

            Total Carbohydrates: 62g 21%

            Dietary Fiber: 5g 20%

            Sugar: 51g

            Protein: 1g

            *Percent Daily Value based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

            Total Fat: Less than 65g

            Saturated Fat: Less than 20g

            Cholesterol: Less than 300mg

            Sodium: Less than 2,400mg

            Total Carbohydrates: 300g

            Dietary Fiber: 25g

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