It’s officially fall and, though the days are getting shorter, I’m loving the crisp mornings and cooler temperatures. It wasn’t always the case, but Autumn has become my favorite season as I’ve gotten older. There are many reasons I love this time of year: the changing leaves, pumpkin spice rooibos tea, rich, slow-cooked meals, boots, cozy sweaters and scarves, roasted butternut squash soup, and the anticipation of winter and the holiday season.
Most of all, I love fall because it reminds me of home and growing up in Indiana. One of my family’s favorite fall activities is apple picking. Each fall we would take many trips north to the apple orchards in Michigan. My mom would always pack lunch and we would picnic at the orchard and then pick apples and drink cider to our hearts’ content. Some of my favorite memories are from these trips.
To kick off the fall season (and indulge my nostalgia), we took a day trip out west and visited the Stribling Orchard and some nearby wineries.
Once we arrived, I quickly realized visiting an apple orchard on the first weekend of fall is not the most original idea. The place was packed and I could see why. The orchard is located near the Blue Ridge Mountains and has beautiful views. There are picnic tables throughout the grounds and an on-site bakery that sells apple donuts, turnovers, cakes and pies (and yes, I did wait in the ridiculously long line for an apple danish, and it was worth it). We spent the afternoon roaming the orchard, taking in the views, and tasting and picking many different types of apples. We picked quite a few, so you may see a common theme in the coming posts…
Since there are so many variations of caramel apples with an endless list of toppings, this isn’t as much a recipe as it is a list of guidelines. Below is the list of ingredients I used, but other than the apples and caramel, the rest of the ingredients are really up to you.
- Apples (I used Jonathans. Granny Smith, Jonagold, and Pink Ladys work well too.)
- Cookie sticks or popsicle sticks
- Caramel candies (or if you’re feeling ambitious, homemade caramel)
- Dark Chocolate
- Milk chocolate
- White chocolate
- Salted peanuts, crushed
- Graham crackers, crushed
To begin, I washed and dried my apples thoroughly and then removed the stem from each one. Then I inserted the cookie sticks into the center about 3/4 of the way down. The sticks I used have blunt ends, so I cut one end on an angle to create a sharp point so they could easily pierce the apple.
I set up a double-boiler using a small sauce pan with one inch of water topped with a medium glass mixing bowl. Be careful not to let the bottom of your bowl touch the water, this can cause the chocolate to scorch. Depending on the size of the sauce pan, you may need a larger bowl.
Once the water came to a boil, I turned the heat down and placed the milk chocolate in the bowl to melt. I repeated this in separate bowls for the dark and white chocolate and the caramel.
For my first caramel apple, I went the traditional route: Caramel Apple with Salted Peanuts.
To start, I dipped the apple in the melted caramel and scraped the bottom off with a spoon so the excess caramel didn’t pool around the bottom when it sets. I immediately rolled it in the crushed salted peanuts and then placed it on a tray with parchment paper. I put this in the fridge to set for about 15 minutes.
You can stop here, but since I had all the other toppings, I wanted to make my apple a little prettier (and tastier). Once the caramel was set, I carefully drizzled some white chocolate on the top and made some zig zag drizzles down the side of the apple. You can do this using a pastry bag, a zip lock bag with a corner snipped off, or a squeeze bottle.
Dark & White Chocolate Caramel Apple
I started this apple by dipping it in the melted caramel and then letting it set in the fridge for about 15-20 minutes. Next, I dipped it in the dark chocolate and let it cool in the fridge again. Once the dark chocolate layer had set, I piped melted white chocolate onto the apple, starting from the top and creating thin lines with the stream of chocolate. I found the easiest way was to hold the apple in one hand and slowly turn it while drizzling the white chocolate with the other hand. This helped to ensure all of the sides were
Ombre Caramel Apple
This apple was destined to become a s’mores caramel apple, but I managed to thoroughly burn the marshmallows while melting them for the first layer so now it’s an ombre caramel apple. To start, I dipped it in white chocolate and let that set in the fridge. Next was the milk chocolate layer and more time to set. Last, I dipped it in the dark chocolate and then rolled it in crushed graham crackers. For the final touch, I used a fork to create a pretty textured finish on the thicker layers of chocolate.
Before serving, I chilled the apples for about 20-30 minutes so all the layers and toppings had time to set.