I have always wanted to try making Caramel Apples. It just seems like such a nostalgic, old fashioned treat. This year was the time to finally do it!
Halloween is kind of a big deal in my town. Not that we go crazy with it–it’s just that we are a small village about half an hour out from a small city–so for, oh, I guess about a 20 mile radius in all directions our town is THE PLACE for families to bring their kids for trick or treating. We have a two mile loop of nice flat sidewalk lined streets with good lighting, and a grocery store conveniently placed on one end with plenty of parking. It’s like an invitation to the surrounding countryside (and other smaller towns) to come and visit. We get somewhere around 300 kids and teens each year. After the fun is over (or we run out of candy) we throw our annual “Post Trick ‘o Treating wind down party”–friends come over with their kids and we let everyone calm down after all the excitement. The adults get an adult beverage and the kids get a bit to eat that ISN’T pure sugar. This year I’m adding a few caramel apples to the party!
You couldn’t get any simpler for the ingredients. To make caramel apples you need to start with some apples–I picked up some locally grown NY State ones at Walmart. Then you need caramel. While you can buy some caramel squares, I prefer the Kraft Caramel Bits–same tasty caramel, a whole lot less unwrapping to do compared with individually wrapped cellophane squares.
To make things a bit more special, I decided that it would be fun to roll a few apples in some crushed candy bar bits. So I grabbed a big Nestle 95 piece candy assortment from the Halloween aisle at Walmart. I figured that way I’d not only have a couple of different kinds to choose from, I’d also have a head start on buying the Halloween Candy.
First I prepared my apples. I had chosen some really pretty apples that were actually a real human size. That is to say that they were on the small size when compared to what passes for an apple these days–but that was perfect. I wanted a smaller “snack” sized caramel apple when I was through. Unfortunately the apples were waxed. Normally that wouldn’t matter much, but I didn’t want the wax to interfere with the caramel sticking to the apple. So I put all the apples in a big bowl and added my hottest tap water. After they had soaked for a couple of minutes you could see a bit of a white film on the apples–that was the wax. I scrubbed each one well and then dried it.
Instead of using traditional wooden Popsicle sticks for the handle of the caramel apples I found some fun green and orange chevron pop sticks in the Halloween aisle to use. They look like they were made to be used for lollipops or cake pops. I just gently pushed and twisted them into the apple. The apples were set aside.
On my cutting board I chopped up about 3 of the mini candy bars for both the Butterfingers and Nestle Crunch. I put those on two separate plates. I took out a cookie sheet to place the completed apples on and lined it with some wax paper that I rubbed down with some vegetable oil.
Next I took out my double boiler to melt the caramel. I bought my double boiler insert years ago at Walmart. They no longer seem to have that model online, but you can buy an entire Faberware double boiler pot (bottom, boiler and lid) for $28. You can also just put a metal mixing bowl on the top of a saucepan of water, or even put a large clean metal can down into a pot of water (like I did on my Lotion Bar post) . You also could just use a pan on the stove without any kind of double boiler–but then you have to be very careful and stir constantly.
You place the caramel into the pan or double boiler with 2 TBS of water, then you stir and melt. At first it will seem very watery and wrong–a big gloopy mess in the middle and thin caramel colored liquid in a puddle. But keep stirring over medium heat and it will eventually all smooth out. Then you simply dip the apple in and roll it around until it’s covered. Pull it out and let the excess caramel drip back into the pot. I used a spoon to scrape some of the excess caramel off the bottom.
Two apples I left that way, then the other 4 I rolled in chopped candy. I just rolled & pressed. As the caramel dried the candy sort of slid down to the bottom instead of staying put nicely. I think two things could have helped this. 1) I might have waited for the caramel to set up a bit initially and then added the chopped candy and 2) I should have put the completed apples right into the fridge to harden fast (and hopefully while the candy was still distributed) instead of leaving them on the counter.
Once the apples had hardened I took some Halloween themed cupcake liners I had also found in the Halloween aisle at Walmart and put the apples in them. I had to start out by sort of scraping the apples off of the wax paper (even with the oil) and then sort of finesse it into the wrapper (which was smaller than the apple).
It was a bit fussy, but it made it much easier to move the apples around and share them once they were in their own little neat colored paper baking cup.
Since the point of the Halloween Wind Down party is to bring the kids off their sugar high we like to get a bit of protein into them. The theory is it will help with the absorption of sugar in their bloodstream. Who knows–I just know my kids are a little less cranky when they’ve got food in their belly. Cheese and crackers is always quick–but it’s also nice to have some things on hand that you can just throw in the oven to heat quickly as people trickle in. The last thing I want to be doing at that point is any “real” cooking.
Totino’s Pizza Rolls, a box of 12 Pepperoni Hot Pockets and some of my Mummy dogs are quick, easy and tasty. All you need is the beverage of your choice and a chance for the adults to finally sit down and put their feet up.
Here’s a quick video from Kraft showing just how to make the caramel apples:
Looking for more Halloween Party ideas? Check out what other Walmart Mom’s are making: