Honey caramel apples are a treat I make only occasionally. Despite the mountain of real food dessert recipes I post on Nourished Kitchen (sweet things are always so beloved), we rarely eat dessert - preferring instead to finish our meals with seasonal fruit and a bit of cheese. Just occasionally, though, I make something really special - something to delight my little boy.
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Halloween will arrive tomorrow - and with it mountains of candy. Candy I'd just as soon we avoid in perpetuity: chocolates made with slave labor, soft chewy candies made with genetically modified ingredients, and other tooth-rotting, belly-hurting garbage. My son still trick-or-treats, first during the community's Halloween parade down the main street in town and later knocking on doors. He trades his booty for new toys, and we get rid of the candy.
I still like for him to enjoy the holiday and the indulgence - and so I make these: spooky honey caramel apples spiked with a touch of blood red (naturally sourced, of course) food dye and plunged onto gnarly sticks from the aspens in our yard. It's a compromise - a treat for him, piece of mind for me. A little bit of caramel once a year never did anyone harm. After all, the only ingredients really required are apples, honey, cream, butter, sea salt and pecans (if you like them).
Honey Caramel Apples
- Whisk honey, cream, butter and salt in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat until it begins to bubble, then immediately reduce the heat to medium. Stir in food coloring, adjusting the volume to match the intensity of color you like.
- Continue to whisk the caramel frequently to prevent scorching and to prevent it from bubbling up and out of of your saucepan. Continue to cook until the caramel reaches a temperature of 260 F (about 25 minutes). The caramel should be a rich brown or red-brown if you also used food coloring; the bubbles should be small and should uniformly cover the surface of the pan and the caramel should be thickened.
- Prepare an ice bath. Then pour the hot caramel into a mixing bowl and place the bowl in the ice bath, taking care not to splash water into the hot caramel. Stir the caramel until it is uniformly cooled and it begins to thicken just a bit.
- Plunge a wooden stick or dowel into the core of your apples and roll them, one by one, in the caramel until uniformly coated. Roll them in chopped pecans and place them on a piece of parchment paper to cool completely before serving.