When was the last time you made caramel apples? Our family went apple picking one Sunday afternoon last fall and came back with dozens of apples. We ate sliced apples with lunch and dinner, gave apples to teachers, baked apple pie, and still had mounds of apples. When the kids begged me for caramel apples one day at the store, it dawned on me—why not make them instead?
To share the joy, we invited some of Solomon and Celia’s friends over after school. Each child washed and dried an apple. We melted caramel on the stove, stuck craft sticks in the apples, and dipped them in the caramel. After they cooled, we dug into our homemade snack.
The sticky treat was just like I remembered—impossibly gooey and messy but a complete multi-sensory ritual marking the start of fall. All of us loved sinking our teeth through the sweet and tart flavors, the juicy and sticky textures. Admittedly, it is a messy project but with the beautiful fall weather, one that can be easily relegated to the back porch.
Here are our tips for making the best caramel apples (I follow the basic recipe on the package of caramels that appear in grocery stores each fall, or you can melt 14 oz. of caramels with 2 Tbsp. of water over low heat.):
• Make sure the apples are washed and very well dried so the caramel will adhere to them.
• Pick out (or pick!) fresh and firm apples, preferably organic. Use unwaxed apples, so that the caramel will adhere to them better.
• If your children have loose teeth or braces, dip apple slices into caramel instead of making whole caramel apples (or try the mini-caramel apple link below).
• For a tasty twist on caramel apples, try stirring a Tbsp. of peanut butter or chocolate chips into the melted caramel.
• Give your kids and their friends a Halloween thrill by letting them stick gummy worms to their homemade caramel apples.
If you are really in the caramel apple mood, here are some terrific sites that can draw out the fun for you and your kids:
• Have a blast with your kids playing catch the falling apple, apple memory games, and apple word searches at Crispy’s Apple Stand and learn more about your favorite apple varieties here: http://www.bestapples.com/index.aspx
• If you’re in the mood, you can make your own caramel from scratch instead of melting store-bought caramels: http://blogs.babble.com/family-kitchen/2010/09/17/homemade-caramel-apples/
• Check out these “tricked-out” caramel apple ideas: http://www.chow.com/food-news/54722/tricked-out-caramel-apples/
• These are the cutest mini-caramel apples we’ve ever seen! http://christyrobbins.blogspot.com/2010/09/apple-mini-caramel-apples.html
• Don’t like sticky caramel? How about Peanut Butter Crunch apples instead? http://www.thelittlefoodie.com/2009/10/like-caramel-apple-only-healthier.html
Have you gone apple picking and made your own caramel apples? Do you have a favorite recipe for caramel apples, or do you roll your apples in chopped peanuts, mini chocolate chips, sprinkles, or any other fun treats? We’d love to hear all about it!