When I was sick and wanted to die with my first pregnancy, I used to lie on the couch for hours (holding an empty bucket that was newly washed out and smelled like Pine Sol), and watch lame television shows to pass the time. The Rosie O’Donnell show wasn’t lame though. That was the best part of my day. And certainly better than puking.
She used to be in love with those giant caramel apples from Williams Sonoma, and ever since then, I’ve always wanted to try one. Sometimes you have to just take the plunge and spend over $20 on a good treat, but in the last 13 years since hearing about them, I never have. When the kids asked me to make caramel apples for them the other day, I thought I’d take a whack at something resembling the ones at Williams Sonoma. They were the perfect thing to celebrate the arrival of fall.When I make caramel apples, I don’t make them with a stick. All that does is bruise the inside of the apple, and no kid wants that. If you dip an apple with a good stem, you should be fine, and then when they’re done, you simply cut the apple up. That way, every bite of apple has a bit of candy with it.
If you want to make your apples more like the ones at Williams Sonoma, you can get creative and drizzle yours with other kinds of chocolate. Knock yourselves out!
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups granulated cane sugar
- 3 tablespoons water, plus more for brushing the sides of the pan
- 3 tablespoons light corn syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 3 very large apples, such as Granny Smith (pictured), Fuji, or my favorite: Honey Crisp
- 1 (12-ounce) bag semi-sweet chocolate chips (Guittard brand is the best, if you can find it!)
- Chopped nuts—such as cashews, almonds, or peanuts—for rolling
1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Pour cream into a large liquid measuring cup with butter and vanilla. Set aside. In a high-sided medium saucepan, combine sugar, water, corn syrup, and salt. Set over medium heat and bring mixture to a boil. Do not stir. Use a pastry brush dipped in water to brush down any sugar crystals stuck to the sides of the pan. Clip a good candy thermometer to the side of the pan, and cook the syrup until it reaches 305ºF.
2. Remove from heat, and carefully stir in cream mixture with a sturdy whisk. The two mixtures will bubble violently for a few seconds. Return to the burner, and set the heat to medium. Whisk constantly until the caramel reaches 240ºF, about 25 minutes. Remove from heat. Wait several minutes for the caramel to cool slightly, and carefully dip each apple so the caramel comes up the sides, and comes about an inch away from the stem. Place on prepared baking sheet, and cool completely.
3. Melt chocolate chips in a double boiler or in the microwave at 30 second intervals (stirring well after each interval until completely melted). Dip caramel apples in the chocolate, and roll in nuts, if desired. Return to prepared baking sheet and refrigerate until chocolate is set, about 30 minutes. Slice with a very sharp knife, and enjoy.