For the past few growing seasons, I've been thrilled to see more and more varieties of summer apples popping up at my farmers' market. Though many people, at least in the northeast, associate apples with autumn, plenty of heirloom varieties are ready to eat in mid-summer. That makes me happy for lots of reasons, not least of all because now I get to make caramel apples for my Labor Day barbecue and feel totally legit about it.
This is a simple and delicious recipe for caramel apples adapted from Martha Stewart. Partly because it's super-cute and partly because I had a hells of a time finding popsicle sticks here in London, I used sturdy twigs to spear the apples—it worked great.
Smallish apples are a nice choice to serve at a party where there may be other desserts to sample. Pretty much any variety will work fine, but I especially like the combination of a tart apple with the sticky-sweet caramel and salty peanuts.
- Active time: 30 minutes
- Total time:30 minutes
- 12 small apples
- 2 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup salted peanuts
Pull the stems out of the apples and cut a small X with a paring knife where each stem used to be. Push one end of a popsicle stick or twig about an inch into each apple where the X is.
In a medium, heavy saucepan, combine the sugar and the water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring once or twice with a wooden spoon until the sugar dissolves. Watch carefully and adjust the heat to maintain a controlled boil. Boil undisturbed for about 10 minutes, until the caramel turns a dark amber color. Remove pot from heat. Very carefully add the cream. The mixture will boil up furiously. Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon. Let the caramel cool for about five minutes. While the caramel is cooling, finely chop the peanuts. Line a large plate or a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray or lightly coat with a neutral-tasting oil.
One at a time, hold each apple by the stick and swirl to coat in the caramel. Let excess caramel drip back into the pot. Roll coated apple in chopped nuts. Set each apple on the parchment to cool completely. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three days.