1 C. real butter
2 C. dark brown sugar, packed (we used light brown sugar)
1 C. light corn syrup
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
2 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
8-10 medium-sized apples, sticks inserted in tops
Instructions: 1. Over medium-high heat, stir together the butter, sugar, corn syrup, and condensed milk in a heavy sauce pan.
2. Bring to a boil.
3. Cook about 30-40 minutes (don't stir often, as you'll risk crystallization) (we stirred ours to make sure it didn't burn), until the caramel darkens and thickens. It should reach the "firm ball" stage of candy-making. This means that, upon dropping the caramel into cold water, a firm ball forms. This ball shouldn't flatten when you remove it from the water, but should still easily change shape when you touch it. With a candy thermometer the temp should read 245-250 degrees F.
4. Remove finished caramel from the heat.
5. Stir in vanilla extract.
6. Dip apples into hot caramel. In order to get as thick a caramel coating as possible, dip each apple at an angle and rotate within the caramel.
7. Pull apple out vertically and allow excess caramel to drip off. Then turn the apple right-side-up a moment (as if you were about to eat it) and let the caramel settle for a few seconds. This prevents large bare spots at the top of the apple.
8. Place apples on greased wax paper or foil.
9. While caramel is still warm and soft, decorate as desired. (Unless dipping apples in chocolate, in which case the caramel needs to be allowed to set.)
10. Let cool to set
Divine Dinner Party Recommends These Tips
1. If this is your first time, use packaged caramels-- it's easier to get the texture right. Especially if you don't have much experience candy making.
2. Be sure your apples are washed and VERY dry before dipping.
3. Choose smaller apples to make caramel go further-- after all, it's hard to finish a whole one, anyway(oops, maybe I should have followed this).
4. Use cold apples for dipping to keep the caramel from sliding off.
5. If in doubt, decorate your apples. If they're coated in nuts, chocolate, etc., they won't stick together and can be packaged individually.
6. If using store-bought apples, the wax applied to them may keep the caramel from sticking. Scrub apples clean with baking soda, or dip briefly in boiling water to remove the wax.
7. When decorating with larger items, don't make them too big, as big items tend to be too heavy for the caramel to hold them.
Believe it or not, we've never tried homemade caramel apples before. I've always used the wrapped caramels. I WILL NOT GO BACK!
Cooking anything with a candy thermometer scares me for some reason, so I was a little imitated. But really it wasn't that bad. You just have to be patient, because it took a while for it to reach the "firm ball stage". Definitely worth it though!!
I thought it made a lot of caramel. We used HUGE apples, and we still had some left over. I couldn't stand to see it go to waste so I buttered a bread pan and poured the rest of the caramel inside.