A traditional Hallowe’en treat

In a bygone era when children accepted unwrapped candies from strangers, and before the urban legend (?) of razor blades in apples infiltrated Canadian communities, we ate caramel apples on Hallowe’en. (Or on second thought, maybe that’s the urban legend.)

While I wasn’t about to hand them out at the door, I thought that R. and I, at the very least, could indulge a little.

Caramel Apples

1/4 pound golden brown sugar
1/4 pound demerara sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup cane syrup or golden corn syrup
1/2 can (7 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt

6 wooden chopsticks, popsicle sticks, or something else that can be used as handles
6 medium Granny Smith apples

Optional toppings: salted peanuts, toasted coconut, melted dark or white chocolate (or both!), sprinkles, you get the picture.

Beside the stove, set up a small to medium-size metal bowl on a heatproof surface. This is where your hot caramel will cool slightly and where you’ll dip your apples.

Combine first 7 ingredients in a medium saucepan. Stir with a wooden spoon over medium-low heat until the sugar completely dissolves (about 10-15 minutes).

Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the sauce pan. Increase heat to medium-high and cook caramel at a rolling boil until the temperature reaches 236 degrees Fahrenheit or “softball” stage (about 10 minutes).

Pour the caramel into the metal bowl without scraping the sides of the saucepan. Rinse and dry the candy thermometer and place it in the bowl of caramel. Leave the caramel to cool until it reaches about 200 degrees Fahrenheit (about 15-20 minutes).

While the caramel cools, line a baking sheet with tinfoil and grease it very well (better than me, for instance). Rinse and thoroughly dry your apples and insert a chopstick into the stem end of each apple. Set up your toppings in bowls or on cookie sheets, whichever you prefer.

Holding the chopstick, dip one apple into the caramel at a time, rotating it through the caramel until all but the top is covered. Lift the apple out and allow the excess to drip back into the bowl, then turn the apple upside down for 5-10 seconds before placing it on the greased tinfoil, chopstick handle up.

Chill until the caramel is partially set (about 15 minutes). Lift each apple from the tinfoil and carefully press the pooled caramel around the apple. At this point, apply toppings as desired, pressing them gently into the caramel. Chill completely. Caramel apples will keep in the fridge for up to one week.

Yields 6 caramel apples.

Source: The Casual Baker.