How to Make Caramel Apples

Caramel apples are a quintessential fall dessert, and they're a lot easier to make than you might think. Follow these step-by-step instructions to make homemade caramel and prepare caramel apples.


hi I'm John kirkpatrick with cuisine at home I'm the Test Kitchen manager of cuisine at home and I'm here to demonstrate today how to do our caramel apples so we'll get started first by explaining what we have we've got Granny Smiths a lot of people you can choose what kind of apple you'd like whether it's tart or sweet but tart usually contrasts really well with the caramel these apples have been washed in a mixture of warm water and vinegar and then scrubbed a little bit now we've removed the Polish the wax so that the caramel will adhere to the apple better we'll start by inserting sticks about halfway through the Apple

and here you'll see this Apple the stem end of it is little wonky it's off at an angle like this but you still want to put the stick straight into it like so now we're going to move on to the caramel itself take a nice clean saucepan go death to it and we're going to combine all of these ingredients sugar butter

heavy cream

that explains the richness of this oh and then don't forget the salt it's just a tiny a bit it's not going to make the caramel salty but it's going to bring out all the flavors that you're looking for finally I'm going to be adding corn syrup to it and corn syrup is what we call an invert sugar

now you don't want to bring this up too quickly and risk burning the sugar and the other ingredients what we're gonna be doing is looking for a certain range of temperatures on a candy thermometer this candy thermometer actually has settings for each of the different hardnesses of caramel as that comes up now we'll just wait for this to come to a boil and we'll get to the next bar as you can see it's boiling pretty fiercely right now and that's something you really want to be careful about with caramel or cooking sugar at all we're at about 220 degrees and that's only taking a few minutes to get there what happens now is it's going to take about an equal amount of time to get from 220 to 240 you'll see it's still kind of a buttery color and we get closer to the temperature you'll start to see the caramel color come out we're at about 239 we're getting close to 240 the color has changed we're getting a little bit more dark and caramel in here we're going to turn this off now because we'd want it to stabilize at this temperature give it a kind of a stir to incorporate all the caramel from the sides and bottom and as it cools down it'll get a deeper richer caramel color the caramel won't stick to the apples if it's too hot still so we're gonna do a few things to mitigate it one is to add another quarter cup of cream then a teaspoon of vanilla just for good flavor that will have it boil up a little bit fiercely with those temperatures if you want a richer or deeper color with your caramel you can use brown sugar or mixture brown sugar and white sugar but what you're looking for is a temperature starting at about 215 and as low as 195 because then it starts to just get floppy and here for that reason as you can see this kind of a blonde caramel it's bright temperature it's stopped boiling and so we're going to start dipping our apples now what you want to do is get this tip and then start swirling the apple through lightly a few times around and like I say that'll get that the temperature of the chilled apple will help the caramel to adhere to it the more apples you do you'll find that the caramel itself starts to cool and it will stick better with each traditional apple or there's another technique where you can just spoon it on see we're getting a nice build up there and we want the excess to drip off but we also want to make sure it doesn't all drip off so I kind of do this swirling relate it to glassblowing actually kinda and you'll see at the bottom we're starting to get the extra to be hanging off this isn't too bad right now but you may want to just cut this with a knife flip it back and forth that way you don't end up with a big foot of caramel at the bottom and so moving right along

same kind of deal and I can already see that it's cooled considerably since that first happened it's really sticking well it's really nice because we're not getting a whole lot of that curtain at the bottom up

one of the things you'll see here is that they when it's ready to kind of be put over to the side the caramel will go from a shiny shiny part to a little bit more matte finish to it don't worry it'll return to that shininess as it cools but that's a good indication that you're done playing with it now if you're decorating with something like peanuts you'll want to do that while the caramel is still setting and then you want to just cut this with your hand don't do it over the caramel because you start to get the nuts goofing up the caramel in the beginning now you may notice when you get to this some of the apples that have been done previously that they've developed this foot and some people will just pull that back up in there before they start putting the t-nuts now you'll want to let these chill if you're going to be adding you know chocolate swirls and chocolate streaks to them one thing I do want to talk about is using parchment paper to hold your apples if you use wax paper it'll just cause a nightmare and so we've pretty much finished the whole project here you can see this is nicely painted it up and that'll actually give it a little foot to put it down on thank you for joining me and look for this caramel recipe and other Apple recipes in issue 137 you

Have some fun with decorating your apples. Try crushed graham crackers or cookies, toasted coconut, melted chocolate, or even chopped crispy bacon.