Gourmet Caramel Apples + Free Printable Handout
Get all the tips and tricks of the trade to easily make gourmet caramel apples right in your own kitchen, including a handout!
This one time (last Saturday), I did a cooking demonstration on how to easily make beautiful, gourmet caramel apples for a group of women holding their annual Super Saturday (a learning/crafting event at church).
It was great fun – both the making of caramel apples and the insane amount of laughing and chatting that occurred (no surprise I wanted to stay forever and plop myself down in a metal folding chair and talk about life and kids and caramel apples and new jeans forever and ever).
In preparation for this event, I made about a bazillion caramel apples in order to perfect my already mostly foolproof method I’ve used for several years.
I know technically the season for caramel apples is probably waning, but in the event that any of you want to tackle perfect, gourmet caramel apples, I’ll share the same handout and tips I shared with the ladies last weekend since I probably won’t do an official recipe post about these lovely apples this year.
Most of the tips are right here in this nifty little handout (click the image to download the PDF).
A few additional tippy tips:
1) Granny Smith apples are my very favorite for dipping in caramel. The sweet-tart combo is delightful. Honey Crisp come in a close second. A lot of other varieties are a bit too sweet for my liking after being loaded with caramel and chocolate and who knows what else but you really could use whatever your first preference is.
2) The reason for soaking the apple is twofold: it helps get rid of some of the pesky wax (and wax is no good for helping caramel stick) but it also helps release some of the gases in the apple so the caramel doesn’t get annoying little air bubbles. If you’ve dipped a lot of caramel apples in your day, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Dipping the apple slowly into the caramel also helps with the air bubble issue, too.
3) All those cute little drizzles? I used this magical tip that doesn’t require loading the chocolate into bags and using any special tips.
4) One batch of caramel (recipe is in the handout) will dip about 12 average-sized apples. If you’re working with this behemoth apples that weigh about 5 pounds apiece, plan on more caramel or less apples.
So pretend like it’s still October and go make yourself look like a rock star with some crazy yummy gourmet caramel apples.
65 Comments on “Gourmet Caramel Apples + Free Printable Handout”
Okay something went horribly wrong… I soaked the apples in hot water for 10 minutes like you said, but when I removed the plate, the bright green skin had turned brown! All of my apples looked horrible and there was nothing I could do to save them. What happened?
That’s bizarre, Kathryn – I’ve never had that happen before! Do you have really hard or really soft water? I wonder if that would make a difference?
Mel, you say granulated sugar. Do you mean brown sugar, white, or light brown? I used white granulated sugar and it just doesn’t have the flavor I’m looking for. Let me know exactly what you used.
I use white granulated sugar.
So these caramel apples did not turn out. The recipe says to add all the above ingredients at the start, does that include the 1c cream? Then you add an additional 1 c cream at the end? That’s how I understood it but maybe that’s why it’s so runny and not working?
Yes, you add cream at the beginning and them another cup of cream at the end.
Hey Mel–I would love to make these to give as gifts this week! I have a Honeycrisp tree just waiting for some caramel to coat its fruits 🙂 What do you recommend wrapping the apples in for gift-giving? Also, do you cover or wrap the apples somehow that you leave in the fridge? I just don’t want them to absorb fridge flavors (like the freshly shot wild ducks laying in a bowl of water, ew). Thanks!
Haha, you make me laugh. Ok, so I always buy the cellophane bags (I grab them at hobby lobby) and put the apples in there and then use twine to tie the bag closed over the stick. I usually don’t cover the apples on the tray in the fridge because it’s cumbersome and hard, but yeah, I hear you on the duck thing (we currently have the same situation in our fridge with pheasants) so maybe if you can cover them somehow it would help…but make sure they aren’t sticky with caramel and/or the chocolate has firmed up so they don’t get ruined.
Thank you! I have seen those fancy cellophane bags but never knew where to get them! Hobby Lobby, here I come! And maybe I will just individually wrap them all as soon as they have firmed up in the fridge…to lessen the risk of flavor transfer. Luckily, the ducks got cooked before I got to the apples! But, as you know, there are more to come (and yes, pheasants here too when that season opens…). Which gets me to thinking: I would LOVE to hear how you cook wild game! Maybe a wild waterfowl week of recipes?? 😉
I’m SO bad, Melanie. I make Brian cook it. I mean, I’ll sub an elk roast in for beef roasts, but I don’t think elk is quite as gamy-tasting. Otherwise, I’ve kind of left the cooking of wild game up to the boys (and honestly, they don’t hunt as much as they’d like but I think that will increase since the boys are older now).
Do you use Ghirardelli melting wafers or something else for the chocolate? I would love to recreate a yummy version I had with caramel, white chocolate and cinnamon.
I prefer using real chocolate vs melting wafers, but you can use whatever you prefer or have on hand!
Can you double this recipe or do you need to make it in single batches if you are dipping more than 12 apples?
Yes, you can double the caramel (use a large pot). I’ve never more than doubled it though.
I am doing these for our Super Saturday coming up and came upon your site as I was searching for the perfect caramel apple recipe. Alas, I’m one of the unlucky ladies who never quite had the right touch when it comes to your other caramel recipe — every batch I tried kept crystalizing. So I REALLY want to do real caramel for this and not just melt the gross packaged caramel bits or wrapped caramel candies that you get from the store, but I’m scared! Does this caramel similarly crytalize like the other recipe can tend to if you don’t do something right? Or is this one more forgiving? I don’t want to have an epic disaster with 20 women there to witness it, lol!! Thanks, Mel.
I haven’t ever had this caramel crystallize…good luck!! I hope it goes well!
Hi Mel! Thanks for all the great recipes!! I’m excited to try this soon!
In the past, I have struggled with my almond bark chocolate setting up too fast and being thick. I’ve never tried melting chocolate in the crock pot, like you describe…What chocolate do you use? Thanks so much 🙂
I usually use the Ghirardelli brand of chocolate. 🙂
Sounds great, thanks!! 🙂
Making this for the second time right now and this time doing a double batch of caramel to have some families over for FHE tomorrow! And have an extra pile of apples on the counter to make with my parents when they come to town this weekend. Thanks so much! Your blog has taught me so much.
I’m making these with our YW this week. Some of them have braces, so caramel presents a problem for them. So you think if they just dipped in chocolate the chocolate would stay on? I’m worried it will just crack and fall off
I think it might crack, like you suggested, but I’ve never tried it that way so it might be worth a try! Maybe if the apples aren’t right out of the refrigerator it would work best so the cold apples don’t crack the chocolate.
I was wondering how far in advance you could make these or is there a good way you recommend to keep them fresh.
I’ve made them up to a week in advance and it works just fine (I keep them refrigerated).
These are beautiful! What a great gift idea!! I know you’ve posted it before but can’t remember where. What candy thermometer do you recommend? I keep buying ones that stop working :/. Thank you so much!
I use this one, Katie:
You’re awesome!!! Thanks again!
Fantastic post. What program did you use for the hand out? Publisher? Soooo cute.
Just also wanted to say how I love the last year, 2 years ago, 3 years ago links. I use them frequently, or they spur my mind to a recipe of yours I’ve used long ago.
Thanks so much for your dedication to this blog! I love it and love the Saturday snapshots. Makes me feel like we’re neighbors and kindred spirits!
Thanks, Karen, you are so sweet and your kind words made my day! I used Photoshop for the handout. 🙂
Hi there! I am hosting a Caramel Apple Party and I have a question. I am sorry if this is obvious from the instructions and I am just missing something but if you are not dipping the apples in chocolate do you refrigerate the apples before adding toppings?
Do you mean refrigerate the apples after dipping in chocolate? If so, no, dip the apples in chocolate and then add the toppings immediately before the chocolate hardens. I do like to refrigerate the apples after they’ve been caramel-covered if I have time so the chocolate sets up more quickly once dipped.
Ok, so I cooked till 238 and caramel was too soft. Poured it back into pot and cooked till 242, and transfer to a bowl so it wouldn’t keep cooking. The first couple of apples came out great after dipping, then while atempting to dip the rest of the apples the caramel seemed oily and got to a different consistency. What do you think happened here?
It’s possible that if the caramel cooled too much when you took it off at 238 and then you re-boiled it again that it separated. Sometimes if caramel undergoes fast or drastic changes in temperature it can get that buttery layer where the butter kind of separates out from the caramel. It’s also possible your candy thermometer might be cooking a few degrees too low – have you ever calibrated it in boiling water?
I have a whole GNO planned for tomorrow using your recipe and tips! We can’t wait! Just a quick question–do you have any advice for making the caramel if I don’t have a candy thermometer? I just don’t want to mess it up! Thank you!
Good luck with your girls’ night, Nikki! Unfortunately, I’ve never made this caramel without a cooking thermometer and I’m not really familiar with the different tests you can do on homemade candy without a thermometer (although you could probably google something like “ice water test for caramel”). Any chance a neighbor or a friend has a cooking thermometer you could borrow?
Thanks, Mel! Our GNO turned out to be a blast! I failed miserably at your recipe (note to self: ask hubby for a candy thermometer for Christmas), but we had the Kraft squares as a backup and used those instead. I’m determined to master the way you do your apples this holiday season! Thank you again for an amazing blog.
What a fun and helpful class you taught, and it was SO great to finally get to meet you! I’ve shared your blog with my sisters and friends forever, I’m always telling them about a recipe “from Mel”. I have made chocolate covered, decorated carmel apples for years but always have the problems we discussed in the class, ie: bubbles in the carmel, carmel pooling at the bottom, etc. So awesome to have remedies for them! I had a hard time sharing the apple I brought home with my kids! (Honey crisp with Oreo coating.) You probably thought I was a total nerd for wanting a picture with you, but thanks for humoring me! You’re the best!
I loved it, Bonnie! And it was so nice to meet you!
My friend and I got together this evening to make these beauties. We got the kids involved and they LOVED it! Like many others, I’ve always been intimidated by homemade caramel. This recipe was SO SIMPLE and quick to prepare. I seriously planned an entire evening to make the caramel, but it only took me 45 minutes tops (because I read and reread the handout like 20 times). I made the caramel last night and reheated it in the slow cooker today. It was easy to dip and yummy to eat. We had enough caramel for 12 fairly large Granny Smith apples. Also, I recommend watching Mel’s Aunt’s vid on drizzling chocolate first. We used a spoon and it wasn’t so pretty. Whatevs! It tastes just as good! Thanks Mel for curing yet another one of my cooking fears and making me (and the kiddos) feel like rock stars in the kitchen.
I tried to make carmel apples in the spur of the moment, a couple weeks back. Epic fail. I ended up taking the apples off of the stick and slicing. The boys then just dipped the apple slices into a bowl of carmel. Not the same. Thank you for sharing this great post and handout! I will have to follow your instructions next time 🙂
Oh my gosh, Mel- I don’t know what made me smile more…the PDF for the apples or the adorable photos of your children! 🙂
Go Red Sox! ( :
The apples look delicious and I am printing out the very cute graphic.
Mel your kids are adorable! I love seeing pix of then! Being crazy and funny and everything in between. Reminds me of my kiddos! I made your divine breadsticks tonight with soup and they were SOOO good! They were like dessert! Yum
A friend of mine gives us a large carmel apple drizzled with white and dark chocolate, sprinkled with pecans for for Christmas every year. She always wraps it in cellophane with a pretty bow. Thanks for the recipe!
Mel, what can I say?! I have been professionally making gourmet caramel apples for years and I still learned something new from you! You never cease to amaze me. 🙂
could have fooled me about that cute little fairy’s mood. Looks like your boys had a blast
The kids look great. Being in Massachusetts I must say I appreciate the Red Sox hat greatly!!
I made these!!!! Caramel apples have been one of the things I have been wanting to conquer (have NEVER had good luck- my caramel has always slid right off the apple) and I DID IT!!! Thank you SO MUCH for your wonderfully detailed instructions- I followed them step by step and ended up with big, beautiful apples! The children loved them and I meant to take a picture to send you, but they didn’t last long enough! I had extra caramel so I just poured the rest into a parchment-lined pan and now have caramel candies which i may dip in dark chocolate (thank you to the other poster who did this and gave me the idea!) and bring them to the ladies in my bible study. THANK YOU MEL!! And thank you Aunt Marilyn!! (and ps- your children are darling! I just love catching glimpses of them here and there!) The bread recipe you just posted and your Tuscan bean soup are the menu for tonight- and caramel candies for dessert 🙂 thanks again for all of your hard work!
I’m so, so thrilled to hear these caramel apples worked out so well for you, Hilary! Seriously makes you feel like a rock star, huh? I love the feeling of churning out these gorgeous decorated caramel apples. Thank you so much for checking in to let me know!
It’s always caramel apple time 🙂 Question – for the caramel recipe you list 1 cup of cream in the ingredients, and say “add all ingredients”…and then later say when it reaches a certain temp to add a cup of cream – just want to make sure there’s only 1 cup of cream total? I’ve made caramels before and only added the cream after it reached a certain temp, but wasn’t sure since this is for a different use of the caramel. Thanks 🙂
The first step is to add all the ingredients in the first section (that includes 1 cup of cream) and then bring that mixture to 236 degrees F. At that point, pour in another cup of cream (so 2 cups total). Does that make sense?
It does, thank you!
My mom was at your class last weekend and really enjoyed it! I’m hoping to make some with her during the holidays! Thanks for sharing with us- they look divine.
I’ve seen other people put the sticks in the blossom end of the apple.
Does putting it in at the stem end have some advantage?
I think you can do either. I always go from the top because I like to leave a little circle of apple showing (instead of dipping it entirely in caramel) and it looks prettier to have the top showing than the blossom end.
Thanks for the input. It’s been a long time since I’ve dipped apples, and your advice has taught me a lot.
(I mostly like to peel and slice an apple, then just dip the pieces in cajeta, but that seems kinda lazy compared to these beautiful creations.)
I always love the pictures of the boys and Cam. Thanks for sharing!
Oh, my goodness! That handout!!!! Your talent in the kitchen has impressed me for years, but that graphic design is outstanding! These are great gifts at the holiday time – thank you for posting this 🙂
Ah, thanks, Theresa! I wish it didn’t take me about 143 hours to put something like that together. I need to become a little more efficient. 🙂
I might have missed this somewhere along the line, but how many apples will the caramel recipe cover?
Oh, thanks, Lindsay! That was one of the main things I meant to include (I’ll try to update the handout but I’m on my way out for an epic day of yard work with the family so it might be later tonight) – for average sized apples (not terribly small and not ginormous), one batch of caramel will dip about 12 apples.
You pay your kids for Halloween Candy? How does that work??
Basically, they just turn their bag of Halloween candy in for a little cash (we’re talking $5). They don’t have to – it’s their choice whether they want to or not but usually after they eat a few pieces on Halloween night, they’re ready to give it up.
What do you do with the candy they give you? I’ve heard some people save it for stocking stuffers, and I kinda like that idea!
I send it with my husband to work where the adults devour it. 🙂