10 Tips for Making the Perfect Caramel Dipped Apples



Caramel apples are one of my favorite treats in the fall. For Halloween parties, nothing looks more festive than a buffet displaying rows of gourmet caramel apples dipped in every topping imaginable. Wrap them in
cello bags and tie with baker's twine for the perfect Halloween party favor, or box up an assortment to give as an autumn hostess gift.

1. Start with the best apples. Use Granny Smith. They are more tart than other varieties, which makes them best for baking and balancing out the sweet toppings on a caramel apple. Of course pick apples that are firm and unbruised.

2. Leave the apples at room temp before coating. If you use a chilled apple, the caramel may firm up too quickly.

3. Rinse with water and thoroughly dry the apples before use. If the apples are from a grocery store, you can dip them in boiling water to remove any wax, which will help the caramel stick better.

4. Don't use flimsy lollipop sticks. Pierce apples with a sturdy bamboo lollipop sticks. However, if you're making a big batch ahead of time for a party, consider not using a lollipop sticks at all; they'll stay fresher longer. Besides, the perfect caramel apple is meant to be cut into slices before eating.

5. Get everything ready before you start. Pierce the apples, prep the cooling trays and and all of the toppings ahead of time before you begin to melt the caramel.

6. For cooling, coat a small cookie sheet with cooking oil/spray. With wax paper, you run the risk of a big, sticky mess, so a non-stick hard surface works best. And the apples are heavy after they've been coated, so you need something like a sturdy baking sheet to cool them on.

7. Consider making the caramel from scratch. See this basic caramel apple recipe on foodnetwork.com. For convenience, you can still make perfect caramel apples with premade caramel squares. If you do use caramel melting squares, stick with Kraft caramels. You don't want to take the risk of using generic candy for such a labor-intensive project; there is no redo if you mess up the first batch!

8. Consider using non-traditional toppings. You can start by adding flavor to the caramel, like pumpkin spice or liquid maple flavoring. Add a layer of melted chocolate over the caramel or anything that comes in baking chips you can melt, like butterscotch or peanut butter. Then get creative with the toppings; try pretzel bits with peanut butter chips, almond slivers with chopped maraschino cherries, or candy corn for a festive Halloween caramel apple.

9. Store them properly. If you're making a large amount for a party, wrap and tie them individually with cellophane after they've completely chilled in the fridge for a few hours. (If you're wrapping them, make sure the caramel is entirely coated with chocolate or toppings so it doesn't stick to the wrapping.) If you've made more than what will fit in your fridge (for an upcoming event), keep them in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight. If you can, store them in the fridge for up to two weeks.

10. Eat them right. Just because gourmet apples come on sticks, you don't have to eat them like lollipops. The perfect caramel apple is best enjoyed by slicing it into wedges just how you would a regular apple. That way you get an even mount of apple and topping in every bite. Plus you don't wind up with chocolate and caramel all over your face.

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