When was the last time you had a delectable caramel apple?
I’m not talking about the one that you get from the grocery store that has been sitting in the packaging for weeks. I’m talking about hand-dipped and rolled in toppings, straight from the cider mill.
It’s been years since my teeth have sunk into the crunchy and gooey texture of a cider mill caramel apple, but I remember those days of snacking on them, then letting the sugar rush launch you into an adventurous game of tag on the hay barrels.
Then last week, my family decided to take an old stroll down memory lane and try our turn at making caramel apples at home. I’ll be the first to tell you, they might be better than any cider mill caramel apple I’ve ever had—sorry to my childhood spot, Spicer’s Orchards.
These things were so succulent and sweet, all 5 of my family members were drooling over their apple, chomping into the caramel-covered skin over and over. It was actually quite hilarious watching 5 grown adults wrangle these apples on a stick and love every minute of it.
After such a delectable experience, I figured you might want to give caramel apples at home a try yourself, so I took the liberty of finding you a great caramel apple recipe that is simple, sweet, and perfect for a fall weekend.
Before we get into it, allow me to give you the TLDR on caramel apples and how they became the cider mill snack.
The sweet pride of New Jersey (sort of)...
There’s an old wive’s tale about the invention of the caramel apple that comes from the good people of Newark, New Jersey. According to legend, William L. Kolb—a local candy-maker—first combined the fruit and red cinnamon candy while trying to create a new sweet treat for the holidays. After placing them in his store window for 5 cents a pop, he watched as customers flocked to the store to get their hands on one.
Now there is some debate on whether or not this counts as the first caramel apple, considering Kolb used red cinnamon candy instead of caramel, but nonetheless he did plant the seed for what would become the iconic treat.
Fast forward to 1950…
While Americans consumed candied apples, there was a new recipe coming out of Kraft Foods that was about to take the entire apple industry by storm in 1950.
Similar to Kolb’s experience, Kraft employee Dan Walker was looking for a way to use all the leftover caramel candy from Halloween. After melting it all down, he decided it would be a good idea to dunk apples in it—boy was he right!
The experiment was a wild success, and customers across the country were calling for more caramel apples. For the next decade, Kraft would hand-dip each caramel apple they sold to customers until Vito Raimondi of Chicago, Illinois made and patented the first automated caramel apple machine in 1960. From there, the rest is history!
Now that you’re caught up on the lineage of the caramel apple, here are a few tips for making the perfect one at home.
- Pick The Prime Apple
Make sure you are picking the best of the best apples for this sweet treat. You can pick any apple you like but there are a few that pair wonderfully with the buttery goodness of caramel. Get your hands on a few Granny Smith’s or Honeycrisp and enjoy the great combination of tart and tasty.
- Curate Your Favorite Caramel Candy
Again, you can use any caramel candy of your choice, but there are a few that guarantee the perfect consistency when it gets to liquid form. I’ve found that Caramel Cubes work perfectly for this snack, but Werther’s Originals or Nips will also taste great!
- Low & Slow Melting.
This process is not going to happen in seconds, you have to take your time melting down the caramel, to make sure that first, you don’t burn it, and second, that it is liquid enough to cover every square inch of the apple. Make sure you keep the heat setting low and slow while you get your melt on.
- Don’t Forget To Swirl.
The key to a perfect caramel apple is the swirl. The swirl is the way you dip the apple into the caramel and rotate it in a clockwise or counterclockwise direction. Either one is fine, but my grandmother will vouch that clockwise will always result in the perfect coverage of caramel across your apple.
- Toppings Are A Must.
I get it, some people like to keep it plain and stick to what they know best. I am not one of those people and thus, I prefer some toppings on my caramel apple. You can’t go wrong with salted peanuts, but I’ve seen a wide variety of toppings like M&Ms, crushed Butterfingers, even Gummi Bears!
Your patience will be rewarded…
It took a minute to get here, but I wanted to make sure you were adequately prepared for this snack adventure.
So without further ado, here it is, the recipe for the perfect caramel apple from Little Sweet Baker.
It’s super simple, requires minimal ingredients and prep work, and leaves you with caramel apples that taste better than the cider mill.
Grab yourself some apples, a collection of caramel, and your favorite toppings, and start whipping up your own ultimate caramel apple this weekend. Enjoy!