One of my favorite things to do during the Fall season is snack on candy and caramel apples. Just about every year (when I remember), I like to shop at the gourmet chocolate shop in the local mall. This year I haven’t exactly been to the mall or any other non-essential, densely populated areas. To feed my craving for caramel apples, I decided to hit up ShopRite and have my family make them. I don’t know how I’ve convinced myself I am a master chef, chocolatier, or patissiere, but I’ve been trying my hand at making home goods more and more this year.
The first thing I did was look up a recipe for caramel apples. You can pretty much find the instructions for easy-to-make caramel apples on any well-known recipe website. There are always differences in brands of cooking items as well as methods for cooking, but the basics stay the same. There are two really important ingredients needed for caramel apples: caramel and apples, duh! We also needed some toppings. The toppings I bought were chocolate, dry roasted peanuts, graham cracker crumbs, chocolate sauce, chopped almonds, and red sugar crystals. I figured those were of the basic variety and easy enough to handle, but as is often heard “hindsight is 20/20 …” In addition to the ingredients, we needed to use parchment or wax paper, a sauce pan, wooden dessert sticks and water for melting the caramel.
After I bought the ingredients, I let my family know what we would be doing, as I had promised my brother that we would find a Fall-inspired activity to complete one weekend. The prep time was long because we had to crush the peanuts and melt the chocolate. I had read that you could melt chocolate in the microwave, which I did initially. In the middle of melting the chocolate, the microwave started smoking! Now, I’m not an expert in the kitchen, but I hadn’t set anything on fire or seriously burned anything since high school. I’ve learned to be careful in the kitchen, but this time I completed an egregious oversight.
My heart started racing as I raced over to the microwave, and I thought I had burned the chocolate, but if I got there soon enough I could easily separate the burned chocolate from the remaining solid pieces and continue melting it. However, it wasn’t the chocolate that was burned. Oh no, it was the bowl! Yep, I didn’t use a microwave safe bowl, and two minutes in the microwave was just two minutes too long. Even though the chocolate wasn’t burnt, I still couldn’t use it. Once the hole formed in the bowl and it touched the chocolate I had to throw the whole thing out. It was basically a mix of still solid chocolate and burnt plastic. FAIL!
I’m not one to give up on the first try though, so I chopped up more chocolate and decided to melt it in a saucepan on the stove. The consistency was on the thicker side because I didn’t use enough crisco, but we had chocolate! All of that aside, I wasn’t too concerned with perfecting the chocolate because I knew the caramel would be the most important part. Caramel can get bitter if overcooked, and if I ruined the caramel we wouldn’t be eating any apples. Don’t worry, I didn’t ruin it. The caramel, too, was on the thicker side, but it definitely wasn’t ruined. It was delicious!
After all of that, we took turns decorating our apples and even some chocolate bananas. The decorating was pretty fun, but seriously messy. Next time, I plan to lay down a disposable table cloth and put the toppings on deeper plates. Hopefully that will make things easier. It was a bit difficult trying to put the toppings on when they kept falling everywhere, but lucky we had plenty to use.
Note the seriousness of our faces because this was a serious task! We all decorated about two apples each, and then my brother, mother, and I decorated bananas. My sister, however, stuck with the apples. Once we finished, we had to let everything set in the fridge for about 30 minutes. This is where things sort of fell apart. We didn’t have a way to place the apples upright, so we had to set them upside down on parchment paper. I had hoped that the apples would set quickly and only a little bit of the toppings might fall off, but the caramel was so thick that it took longer to set. In that time, the caramel had dropped (thanks, gravity) and our apples ended up half covered. All was well though, because the stickiness of the coating kept everything together.
Overall, everything turned out delicious and it was fun to do! If you decided to try it, just be prepared for a lot of work! I didn’t expect the process to take too long, but it was worth it. I definitely enjoyed eating the apples in the end.
*Tip: Freeze the bananas!
Can you guess which toppings I put on my apples? I wonder what that says about me! Comment below what you would put on your caramel apples, and take a guess as to what was on mine.