Looking to satisfy a sweet tooth this fall? From Halloween right up to Thanksgiving, it’s hard to think of a better dessert to go with your scarf and beanie as you kick your way through fallen golden leaves. All you have to do to match the occasion is get creative with your toppings.
Here we’ll show you how to make caramel apples, but more importantly, share a few fun topping ideas to inspire you. Consider them some tricks for your treat, if you will.
How to make caramel apples
To make caramel apples, you’ll need:
- Caramel – You can make your own from scratch, but here’s a time-saver: just use the chewy kind you can buy from the store.
- Apples – Use something crisp and slightly tart. You don’t want anything too sweet for reasons that should be obvious (HINT: you’re covering them in caramel). Fortunately, Granny Smiths are a great choice and one of the most readily available.
- Heavy cream – You can substitute this for evaporated milk if preferred (or necessary).
- Toppings – Scroll down for inspiration.
To make 6 caramel apples:
- 6 small apples (e.g. Granny Smith)
- 12.5 oz chewy caramels
- 2.5 tbsp heavy cream
- Toppings of your choice
- Wash and dry your apples thoroughly, then skewer them with a long lollipop or popsicle stick, inserting at the top of the apple (where the stalk is).
- Prepare your toppings by pouring them out into small bowls or plates.
- Unwrap your chewy caramels if necessary. Place them in a microwave-safe bowl with the heavy cream.
- Heat in the microwave in 30 second increments, stirring in between. Continue this process for 2 or 3 minutes until the mixture is fully melted and smooth. (If you’ve let it get too runny, allow it to cool for a while before the next step.)
- One by one, dip the apples in at an angle so that the caramel stops just short of the top of the apple. Then rotate the apple so that it coats almost the whole apple, but for an exposed rim around where the apple meets the stick.
- Lift the apple and let the excess caramel run off back into the bowl. Then dip the apple into one of your toppings, coating just a third to a half of the apple’s bottom.
- Repeat the process for all apples and then transfer them to the fridge for the caramel to set for 30 minutes.
Top toppings for caramel apples
Birthday cake caramel apples
Don’t worry, nobody’s expecting you to bake a whole cake here. Of course, if you do happen to have any leftover birthday cake lying around, then you can crumble that up for your caramel apples to stop it going stale. Otherwise, just desiccate a few Twinkies instead (just remember to get the pieces as small as possible. Heavier cake bits will just slide right off). Finish off with melted chocolate and rainbow sprinkles.
Nutty caramel apples
Nuts are a popular caramel apple topping for good reason: they’re simple, delicious, and perfectly crunchy. Just smash up some peanuts, walnuts, pecans, pistachios, macadamia nuts, or whatever you fancy.
Candy caramel apples
Can’t decide between candy apples or caramel apples? Then why not have both? Just sprinkle your favourite candies (or anything leftover from trick or treating) onto the caramel apples before they set, breaking up the bigger pieces first, of course. Skittles or M&Ms are great choices.
Marshmallow caramel apples
Just wow. It doesn’t get much more indulgent than this. It’s probably stating the obvious, but make sure you buy those tiny marshmallows, as in the type you’d put in a hot chocolate or top cereal with. Cutting the larger s'more kind into tiny pieces is enough to put anyone off marshmallows for life. And who would want that?
Chocolate drizzle caramel apples
An obvious choice. Whether it’s melted chocolate, chocolate sauce or chocolate syrup, simply drizzle it on and enjoy. It works equally well with milk chocolate, dark chocolate, and white chocolate. But it works even better with all three.
Pumpkin Spice Latte caramel apples
What’s that you say? You don’t think caramel apples are actually that evocative of fall? Then stir a bit of pumpkin spice into the caramel before dipping your apple, then roll it around in some pumpkin spice nuts for good measure.
Gummy bear caramel apples
If you really want to play havoc with texture, throw something chewy onto the something creamy that’s on the something crunchy. Gummy bears will turn your caramel apples into an Instragrammable marvel, but other gummy sweets are available. Just go for something small enough to stay on the caramel and watch your kids’ eyes light up.
Coconut caramel apples
The closest thing you’re going to get to a healthy choice here. Whether desiccated, shredded or flaked, coconut is the ultimate ‘kid yourself’ choice. In all seriousness though, it is actually a good way to stop what is already quite a lot of sugar from turning into an obscene amount.
Fireball caramel apples
This isn’t really a topping per se, more a special treat just for you – the person doing all the work here. Before coating the apples, take one aside and remove the stem. Then poke a small hole into the top and slowly pour in a shot of Fireball cinnamon whisky or liquor of your choice. While it sets, the apple will absorb the liquor (and now you know why we leave the stems in the caramel apples – so we know which ones won’t get the kids drunk).
Finally, if you’re looking for a completely different way to think about caramel apples, try serving up some crispy-fried caramel apple wedges for dessert.