bittersweet chocolate caramel apples


12 - 16   medium apples
12 - 16   wooden sticks
1/2  cup butter
2   ounces bittersweet or unsweetened chocolate
1 1/2  cups granulated sugar1   cup 
light-colored corn syrup
1/4  cup honey
1  14  ounce can (1-1/4 cups) sweetened condensed milk
1   teaspoon vanilla
3   cups coarsely chopped roasted peanuts, cashews or mixed nuts
4   ounces white chocolate baking squares with cocoa butter or bittersweet chocolate, chopped (optional)
2   teaspoons shortening (optional)


1. Wash and dry apples. Remove stems. Insert one wooden stick into the stem end of each apple. Set aside.
2. In a heavy 3-quart saucepan, melt butter and unsweetened chocolate over low heat, stirring frequently. Add sugar, corn syrup and honey. Stir in sweetened condensed milk; mix well. Heat to boiling over medium heat, stirring constantly (this will take 6 to 8 minutes).
3. Clip a candy thermometer onto side of pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, till thermometer registers 245 degree F (firm-ball stage) (this will take 12 to 15 minutes). Remove saucepan from heat. Stir in vanilla.
4. Dip each apple into the hot caramel mixture, and use a spoon to spread the mixture evenly over apple. Allow excess caramel mixture to drip off. Immediately dip bottoms of apples into nuts, sprinkling some nuts onto sides of apples. Place apples, nut side down, on waxed paper and let stand about 25 minutes or till set.
5. If desired, melt white or bittersweet chocolate and shortening in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly. Drizzle apples with melted chocolate as desired. Let stand till firm. Makes 12 to 16 servings.

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