Introduction: "Grocery Store Perfect" Caramel Apples

It's that time of year again! Caramel apples abound!

Step 1: Obtain Delicious Green Orbs

I got mine in my local grocery store (where I work, it's such a nice little walk over to Produce to get what I need!), I prefer Granny Smith for this particular treat. Wash the apples and remember to remove stems and stickers!

Step 2: Insert Sticks

I happen to have the right sticks for these, but you can also use Popsicle sticks. I like to make sure the apples are upside down when you insert the sticks so they're right side up when you're trying to eat them!

Step 3: Prep Ingredients

First thing, get a sheet tray, throw some parchment paper on that bad boy, and spray liberally with cooking spray.

Then here's where we melt our caramel. I use Brill's Caramelize, throw it in the microwave for :30-1:00 intervals, once you're at 113-115*F you're golden. I recommend using a thermometer, but you can eyeball it to this beautiful shiny consistency. It's quite dull beforehand. Mind the heat, if it gets too hot and it'll get dull again and melt off the apples, too cool and it'll be impossibly thick and take forever to set properly.

Gather whatever you'd like to dress up your apples with - I'm using sprinkles, Reeses pieces, and buttercream or fudge drizzle on top.

Step 4: The Tricky Bit...

This is, surprisingly, much easier done than said, so allow me to break this into micro-steps.

a. Dip one apple in the caramel, let it drip ~6 in above the caramel until ribbons and large globs stop falling off.

b. If you're feeling bold, repeat step 1a. with a second apple with your other hand, allowing it to drip, staggered to the side, beneath/beside the first apple (depending on the size of the bowl).

c. Take first apple, set aside on paper for roughly 1-2 minutes.

d. Repeat a-c until you've got between 3-6 apples (this largely depends on how fast you are. I do this for a living, so I've gotten pretty speedy).

e. At this point, securing the paper with one hand, lift and twist one apple at a time, replacing them to a yet un-caramelized plot of paper. This is the secret to the perfect, non-drippy bottoms of supermarket caramel apples!

f. Allow apples to sit for 1-2 minutes for caramel to set. The larger the things you're dipping them into, the less time you want to let the apples sit. Only until they're tacky but not dripping!

Step 5: Toppings! Wait... "Bottomings"?

Dip your apples into your desired treats, using your hands to guide but not press the "bottoming" to the caramel. Larger bottomings, like Reeses pieces or M&M will take a bit longer to set, and will also ripple the caramel if you push them up onto the apple. Feel free to set the apple into your bottoming container for a few seconds to get that perfect-stick coating without fingerprint dents!

That little lump of caramel and Reeses pieces in the bottom left is just some leftover that I like to munch on. Careful, it's much more delicious than it looks!

Step 6: Finally, Top! or Is It Bottom?

My favourite part! Drizzle the tops of your apples with whatever you desire. I've got peanut butter buttercream, fudge icing (Ready Ice, also by Brill), and regular colored buttercream. The secret to a perfect squiggle is to do one side of the stick first, turn the apple, and start where you left off. I like to use a paper writer bag (far left on my cart. Fill one side of the bag with one color and the other side with another color to get the mixed look shown in the next step) , but any old pastry bag or even a Ziplock with a (small!) hole in the corner will do. Remember, you can always cut it larger but you can't put back what you've already cut off!

This caramel does tend to grease up a little, so I like to toss a paper doily underneath each apple, just for presentation.

Step 7: (Optional) Package!

We order special boxes for our apples at work, but any small square box will do. If you can, cut a hole for the stick with a paper punch. Otherwise, shank that bad boy with a pen!

See that cool color-blended drizzle?

Step 8: There You Have It!

Perfect, beautiful caramel apples! At work we give them a shelf life of about 4 days, but I can bet you they won't go nearly that long without being eaten! They don't need to be refrigerated (if done right, the caramel forms a seal around the apple), but I imagine they'd hold up better there. It's just a matter of preference!

I hope you enjoyed my first tutorial, if this gets a good reaction I may do a few more!

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