Mike has been one busy bee lately with work and school, so I wanted to make something that would be a huge treat for him at the end of his day. His favorite treat this time of year....caramel apples, hands down, no questions asked. He'll consume as many as you give him :-)
Sooo, it was time to make some caramel apples! I had my first go at caramel apples last year, when I unwrapped those individual caramels. The caramel didn't turn out how I wanted. It was runny and didn't stick very well to the apple. You had most of the caramel at the bottom of the cookie sheet at the point of devouring. Not good!
This year, I needed a homemade caramel recipe. One that would be thick and sticky! I think I had found a good one as all the ones I had seen used the individual caramel pieces...but not this one. The Tasty Kitchen had a recipe for what they call Grandma Betty's Caramel Apples.
I halved their recipe since I didn't need 12 caramel apples...so 6 sounded a little less gluttonous.
What You'll Need
6 Apples (I used a mix of Granny Smith and Gala)
2 Tbsp. butter (1/8 cup)
1/2 Cup of light corn syrup
7 oz. (half a can) of sweetened condensed milk
1 Cup of white granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
First, wash and dry the apples and place sticks into the middle of each apple (I used skewer sticks since I didn't have Popsicle sticks, they work!). Butter a cookie sheet for placement of apples.
Mix all the other ingredients (besides the vanilla) in a medium saucepan and heat on med/low. Stir constantly (you don't want burnt clumps).
You might be going, "what's a soft-ball stage" because that's the very question I was asking. I found on a wonderful site for candy makers called Baking 911 that "soft-ball stage" is when a drop of candy/caramel dropped into chilled water forms a soft-ball and then flattens quickly on one's hand. I didn't have a thermometer to use, so I actually tested this out with chilled water. Kinda messy but it worked because I think I got just the right consistency of caramel! You gotta use what you have ;-)
So once it hits this soft-ball stage, remove from heat and add vanilla. Let cool for a few minutes.
Dunk the apples in the caramel and use a twirling motion to get all sides of the apple coated. The last apples get a bit hard to cover, so I used a spoon to help the process. The caramel will start to cool, harden, and get stickier so you want to make the dunking process a bit quick.
Add any other toppings you might want...nuts, chocolate, toffee bits.
The deliciousness factor is up to your creativity...or not, Mike loves his plain-Jane style ;-)