Caramel apples are a great treat for kids, and get kids eating fresh fruit! They are also a fun activity for kids, who can make their own!
You can either buy caramels at a candy store or in bags at the supermarket, or you can make your own caramel sauce. Below is the procedure for both. If you are buying the caramels pre-made, there is no need for the sugar, butter, and vanilla extract. (Tip: it’s a lot easier to buy the caramels, but you don’t control the ingredients.)
Adding the nuts makes this a perfect “zone” snack; that is, carbohydrates, fat, and protein.
6 popsicle sticks
6 medium size apples
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Walnuts, finely chopped
Wash and dry the apples. It is best to use pesticide-free apples, but if they are not available, do a good job of washing them.
Take out the stems, and shove a popsicle stick into the apple where the stem was. Set the apples aside.
Chop the walnuts and spread them out them in a shallow bowl. Cover a flat serving tray or baking sheet with aluminum foil and have it ready! Choose one that will fit in the refrigerator and make some space in the frig.
Using Pre-made Caramels
If you are using pre-made caramels, you just need to melt them in a little water in a microwave oven. To melt the caramels in a microwave, use about 12-14 ounces of caramel pieces and 2 tablespoons of water.
Remove the plastic wrap from the caramels and put the caramels and water in a ceramic bowl (microwave-safe, no plastic!) and turn it on for 1 minute. Add more time if necessary, until the mixture is fully melted. Stir to blend in the water.
Making Caramel from Scratch
Put the brown sugar, butter, and water in a saucepan on the stove over medium heat. Stir the mixture frequently until they reach a temperature of about 236 degrees Fahrenheit. While this is cooking, put about 2-3 inches of water in another pan (a bottom of a double boiler works great) and bring it to a boil. You need this hot water to keep the caramel from hardening while you’re coating the apples.
Once your caramel sauce is ready, put the pan of caramel in the second pan of boiling water, away from any heat. Now add the vanilla extract to the caramel sauce and stir well.
Coating the Apple
Holding the apple by the popsicle stick, dip it into the melted caramel. Move the apple around quickly to cover it completely with caramel. Caramel hardens pretty quickly, so work as fast as you can, with the next step as well.
Next, roll the apple in the nuts and dip in the top to coat the top with nuts.
Place the apple on the foil. When you have finished coating all of the apples with both caramel and nuts, put the whole tray in the refrigerator to cool.
Leave the apples in the frig for about 15 minutes, so the caramel will cool and become very solid. Enjoy!