Caramel is relatively easy to make at home if you have a candy thermometer. The worst part about making candy in your kitchen is that you can’t taste as you go along unless you want to singe your tongue off :(.
Candy is also a more delicate form of cooking chemistry than regular baking or cooking, so I don’t recommend experimenting drastically. That is why my caramel is a slightly edited version from the classic Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook – a staple in the kitchen when looking to find highly traditional recipes.
For caramel apples:
- 1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
- 2 cups brown sugar
- 1 cup light corn syrup ( I subbed with 1 cup of honey)
- 14 oz (one can) of sweetened condensed milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- pinch of salt (which I omitted because I am garnishing with salt)
- 6 large apples with popsicle sticks (or apple twigs like I used!)
- 2 drops of red food coloring
- 2 drops of green food coloring
- 1/2 tbsp of sea salt
Prepare a buttered cookie sheet and set aside to place your dipped apples on.
In a 3 quart sauce pan, melt butter. Add in brown sugar and honey and stir until all is moistened and sugar begins to boil. Continue to stir and add in condensed milk. Using your candy thermometer, bring caramel to 245°F and maintain heat for 12-15 minutes. Staying as close as possible to that temperature will make caramel the correct consistency to stick to the apple, but not become hard enough to break your teeth on. (A helpful reminder – that should be used every time you work with heating sugar – to keep an extremely close eye on your caramel. Sugar can burn and catch fire very quickly, so this is a job that must be done with the utmost of focus!)
After the 12-15 minutes, remove caramel from heat and mix in vanilla. After vanilla is incorporated you may begin dipping your apples. Avoid touching caramel as sugar retains heat for a long time. Place apples on baking sheet to cool. Immediately sprinkle with salt so that it sticks. (I made that mistake on a couple of mine!) You may maneuver the sauce pan by tipping it to the side to create a larger well of caramel for the last apples to get an even coating like the first apples.
Homemade caramel is a whole other experience than melting those cubes of caramel to make these sweet treats. Especially since you can use lovely honey instead of blah corn syrup, you get a richer and warmer taste. The salt makes the flavors in the caramel pop. My mom kept saying that she wasn’t going to like the salt, but now she is addicted!