May 28, 2011

A Very Special Apple for Teacher -- Homemade Caramel Apples With a Twist

Every year, since my eldest daughter was in Kindergarten, we've enjoyed making these special caramel apples at the end of the school year as gifts for the teachers. The teachers always enjoy the decadently dipped apples and appreciate the fact that the gift doesn't leave them with another little tchotchke to to take up space on their desk.  

The nice thing about these caramel apples is that the recipe is versatile enough to be enjoyed all year. They're just as perfect in the fall as a First Day of School Gift as they are at year-end. They make wonderful favors for parties and celebrations. In fact, I can't think of a time that a beautifully crafted, gourmet apple wouldn't be welcome!

Here's how to make your own:

Chocolate Dipped Caramel Apples

8 medium sized apples (we like Fuji and Pink Lady)
8 new pencils (I use a small handsaw to shorten the pencils by 1")
Clear packing tape

For the Caramel (source:

1 cup unsalted butter
2 cups dark brown sugar, packed
1 cup light corn syrup
1 14oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
8-10 medium-sized apples, washed, thoroughly dried, sticks inserted in tops

Candy Thermometer
Tray or baking sheet lined with a silpat or greased parchment paper

To decorate:
10 oz. chocolate, chopped
Heath Toffee Bits
White chocolate or white candy melts
Mini chocolate chips

A roll of cellophane

1. To remove wax from apples, fill a clean kitchen sink with hot water and 1 cup salt.  Add apples.  With a vegetable scrubber or clean abrasive sponge, scrub each apple. You will begin to see the wax float on the water.  Drain sink.  Rinse apples in hot water. Remove to a counter lined with a towel.  Thoroughly dry apples with a lint-free towel.  

2.  Prepare pencils by wrapping the unsharpened tip with a small piece of packing tape.

3.  Twist stems from apples or use kitchen shears to snip them away.  Insert a pencil into each apple, taking care not to push it all the way through.

4.  To prepare caramel, stir together the butter, sugar, corn syrup, condensed milk and salt in a heavy sauce pan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil.

5. Cook on medium heat for about 30-40 minutes until the caramel darkens and thickens and reaches the "firm ball" stage of candy-making 245 degrees F on a candy thermometer.

6. Remove finished caramel from the heat and stir in vanilla extract.

7. Dip apples into hot caramel. In order to get as thick a caramel coating as possible, dip each apple at an angle and spin to coat.  Dip as much of the apple in to the caramel as possible, as it will shrink back when set down.

8. Pull apple out and allow excess caramel to drip off. Then turn the apple upside-down for a moment (apple on top, stick on the bottom) and let the caramel settle for a few seconds. This prevents large bare spots at the top of the apple.  Place dipped apples on the lined pan.

9. Let cool for an hour to set.

To decorate:

Melt a small bowl of high quality chocolate.

Dip the bottom portion of apple in melted chocolate.

Place back on a parchment or silpat lined tray.  Refrigerate to help set the chocolate.

Put remaining chocolate in a pastry bag or ziploc bag and snip a tiny hole in the tip. Drizzle melted chocolate on an apple and sprinkle the chocolate with toffee bits before the chocolate sets.  Repeat with remaining apples.  Refrigerate 10  minutes to set the chocolate.

Melt some white chocolate or candy melts with 1 teaspoon oil.  Place in pastry bag or ziploc bag and snip a very tiny hole in the tip.  The white chocolate is very sweet, so you'll want the drizzle to be very fine.  Drizzle white chocolate over an apple and immediately sprinkle with mini chocolate chips.  Repeat with remaining apples.  Refrigerate to set the chocolate.

To wrap the apples, cut a square from a cellophane roll, large enough to come up over the apple and to the stick.  Secure with a ribbon. Using a cellophane square makes wrapping and unwrapping the sticky apple much easier than when using a cellophane treat bag.


  1. Those look YUMMY! and no fair you show them when I'm dieting and there are no sweets in the house! I'll try to forgive you though. :)

    No wonder the teachers love them. Caramel apples are fun to eat and hard to resist. I love how you used the pencils for the sticks.

  2. Love how you used the penciles! So creative! I bet the teachers go crazy when thet get one!

  3. Perfect! That is what I need to do for my kiddos teacher! Thanks for the tutorial

  4. These look amazing! And I love the pencil as the stick!!!

  5. OOOOHHHH MY...My kiddo's are not dine until late June...this gives me plenty of time!!! Yea for me!! I think I'll be making a few extras for myself!! YUM YUM!

  6. Hey lady,

    I'm addicted to caramel so I'm drooling over here. These look great...and make me want to go back to teaching just for a gift like this :)

    I'm going to have to try your method for removing the wax from apples. I've tried a few things but never the salt water/scrub.

    I hope you're having a great weekend.

    Thanks for sharing with Sweets This Week!

  7. I love the pencils - a perfect touch!

  8. Everything you do, is done with such "class". Love the pencil touch.

  9. Love the pencil! What a fun idea. I like your idea about getting the wax off the apples. I have often had caramel slide right off the apple. I also want to try your caramel recipe. Caramel apples are good for so many occasions. Happy birthday, thinking of you etc., etc.
    I too only blog about food/crafts that we really need or use.

  10. These look so good! I absolutely love that you used pencils - what a cute idea!

  11. Thanks for the tip about getting the wax off of the apples! I had never heard of that before! Going to share this on FB!

  12. Yum! These look way better than the fall caramel apples with the nuts on them. I'm all for these sugary ones!

  13. Agg, that is so brilliant using the pencil as the stick!!!

  14. These are adorable! And yummy!

  15. Love the pencil as the stick! I know how much the teachers and staff appreciate your tasty treats (we do too)

  16. Super cute idea! Glad I stopped by! New follower!


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