Caramel Apples: Easy, Fun and Delicious

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Caramel Apples: Easy, Fun and Delicious

By The Paula Deen Test Kitchen

In the good ol’ days of Halloween before we insisted on tamper-proof treats, caramel apples and trick-or-treating went hand in hand. They were the peanut butter cups of their day – the most sought after treat in the plastic jack-o-lantern. But even the end of the wrapper-free candy era did not mark the end of caramel apples; they continue to be a seasonal staple. 

Fall has always been the perfect time to sink your teeth into a caramel apple. The freshest apples make their way into the grocery stores in autumn, and there’s no better way to enjoy a fresh serving of fruit than by coating it in a layer of sweetness. You can indulge in the tasty confection and reap the health benefits of fiber and vitamin C. What fun-size candy bar can match that?

Our fondness for caramel apples may also have something to do with our national heritage. As it turns out, the caramel apple is just as American as apple pie. In the 1950s, Dan Walker, a sales representative for Kraft Foods, first dipped an apple into a pot of his company’s melted caramel candies. The rest, as they say, is history.

Though caramel apples are a relatively recent phenomenon, the practice of candying apples dates back to ancient times. Before refrigeration, people used honey and sugar as preserving agents. The candied apple, a precursor to the caramel apple by about fifty years, is robed in a mixture of sugar, corn syrup, water, cinnamon and red food coloring that hardens as it cools, but it ultimately lacks the gooey chewy goodness the caramel provides.

Today’s caramel apples have grown up. They’ve gone gourmet. You see, once you’ve coated an apple in caramel, you can dress it anyway you please. For instance, Outrageous Caramel Apples are dipped in B. Lloyds nuts and then topped with a milk chocolate and white chocolate drizzle.

Here’s the rule: If you can crush it, you can coat with it. Replace peanuts with pistachios or salted pretzels, or crush up your favorite candy bar for a coating. Even shredded coconut puts a tasty twist on the traditional. Experiment with a variety of apples to see which brand yields the best results. While the tartness of a Granny Smith nicely contrasts with the sweet, buttery caramel, some people prefer the Red Delicious’ more neutral flavor. If you’re looking to create a more manageably sized treat, opt for small Gala or Pink Lady apples. Whatever you do, aim for creativity. Come up with your own caramel-apple inspiration and push the boundaries of tradition and taste.

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Reader Comments:

I tried to think so, but i found it was not as the same in the actual process. As you mentioned, I still have doubts, but really thank you for sharing!

By lv handbag on September 26, 2010

Fall…my favorite time of the year! The house and yard are decorated with scarecrows and pumpkins, corn stalks and leaf garlands. Halloween ghosts and witches will come next month. But just this morning I baked an apple pie! I topped it with a streusel rather than a top crust, and will drizzle it with melted caramel once it’s cooled. There are so many ways to ejoy the flavors of fall, I hope you try them all!

By Sharon Russell on September 24, 2010

I love Halloween and carmel apples.  I just got my 2 little kids hooked.  We are planning a trip to Annie’s Apple Orchard in Willcox to pick pumpkins and apples to attempt to make our own gourmet apples with toffee chips, chocolate chips, mini m&m’s, coconut and what ever else they can think of!  If it goes well, I might even get the ingredients for the kids classes at school for a classroom project and spread the joy! Love ya Paula!

By Gina on September 21, 2010

Paula, seeing your carmel apple recipe made me think about a recipe you used for carmels that you baked in the oven.  I can’t find that recipe on your web site.  Can someone email me that recipe.

By Elaine Stoppenhagen on September 20, 2010

Paula, I love caramel apples as well, but I found that no matter what you coat it with, if it isn’t first dipped in the best home made caramel it just isn’t the same.  I have my Great Grandmothers original recipe card for caramels on my site.  It is one of my treasures, because it is the only recipe our family uses to make caramels.  I am not sure I could tell you the last time we ate those little wrapped square caramels.  They just aren’t the same creamy sweet candy that we get from our grandmas recipe.  This one recipe brings back so many memories…

If you’d like to see the original handwritten card/recipe, it is at


By Greg Kantner on September 20, 2010

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