I am a big fan of caramel. As a kid I had a love-hate relationship with Wrapples, the discs of caramel that are meant to be wrapped around your apple. They're really hard to get right, and the caramel is not even all that good. I loved the idea but hated how it was impossible to produce a gorgeous caramel apple with them.
Many of you have made caramel apples with those Kraft caramels. My memory of those is the labor involved in unwrapping all those little squares. And Kraft caramel is not the tastiest - nothing like a Werther's or a Sugar Daddy. Mmmm. Sugar Daddies have sweetened many a road trip. They last for miles!
This year I decided to do things the right way and I made a potful of glossy caramel for my daughter's halloween party. Well, I made it twice to get it exactly right, but it was really pretty easy. Honestly, the hardest part was the sticks. I used wooden dowels leftover from my wedding cake making days (dowels support the layers). I cut them down to size and sharpened them. You need something longer and sturdier than your average popsicle stick. Maybe a craft store sells something suitable. Anyhoo, here's that recipe:
Print recipe only here
10 Granny Smith apples
1 cup butter
2 cups dark brown sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
14 ounces (1 can) sweetened condensed milk
2 ½ tsp. vanilla extract
Insert wooden sticks through the tops of the apples so that the stick is about 3/4 the way in the apple. Set on a parchment lined baking sheet.
Combine the butter, sugar, corn syrup and condensed milk in sauce pan over medium high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook for about 25 minutes*. Keep close by after about 20 minutes so that it doesn't start to burn. When the caramel looks dark and thick, remove the pot from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Allow to cool slightly. (You can also do this part in advance and pick up the dipping later in the day. When you resume for dipping, just gently reheat the caramel, adding a tablespoon of water at a time if it's too thick.)
Dip the apples into the caramel at an angle, rotating them to coat the entire apple. Lift the apple to let the caramel drip off of the bottom, scraping excess off the bottom of the apple back into the pot.
Line the apples up on a greased wax paper. If desired, decorate the apples with sprinkles, nuts, or other toppings before they dry completely. If you want to put them in candy bags you will need to let them sit and air dry for about 30-45 minutes.
* UPDATE: If you have a candy thermometer, use it and let the caramel cool until it reaches 235 or so, then remove from heat.