I love apples! I love eating apples, cooking with apples and baking with apples. I think one of my all-time favorite ways to eat an apple though, is dipped in caramel and drenched in chocolate! I only make caramel-dipped apples in October as a special pre-Halloween treat for family and friends. It's a good thing too, because I can polish one off faster than you can blink! Here's my "secret" to caramel apples.
I only use gala apples for dipping. Galas are crisp, and have just the right sweet-tart-juiciness that you want in a caramel apple. Also, I try to find medium-sized apples (the perfect size for one sitting), that sit upright.
One 14-ounce bag of caramels is enough for about 6 medium apples. Place un-wrapped caramels in a heatproof bowl over barely simmering water. Add a splash of milk to the caramels (about 1-2 tablespoons) to loosen the caramels up a bit. You don't want too much milk or the caramel will run off the apples once dipped.
Prep your dipping area: Lay out a piece of parchment paper large enough for all your apples; lightly spray with cooking spray. Press a popsicle stick about halfway into each apple.
Plunge apples, one at a time, into the caramel, twisting a little to coat all sides (I leave about a half-inch space around the top of the apple free of caramel-it looks prettier.) Holding the apple over the bowl of caramel, use a spoon to scrape all the caramel off the bottom of the apple (Caramel tends to pool at the base of the apple as it sets-doing this will ensure you don't have too much pooling.) Place apples on the parchment to set.
Place 8 ounces of milk chocolate and 1 tablespoon shortening in a heatproof bowl. Microwave in 30-45 second intervals, stirring after each, until chocolate is melted and smooth.
Lay out a sheet of foil large enough for all your apples. Lightly spray with cooking spray. Dip the bottom third of each apple into the chocolate. Let the chocolate drip off the apple, then scrape the chocolate from the bottom of the apple, just as you did with the caramel. Place apples on the foil to set.
Once you have dipped all 6 apples, add 1 tablespoon shortening to the remaining chocolate in the bowl. Microwave about 20 seconds, until the shortening melts; stir until smooth. Dip a fork into the bowl of chocolate then shake it over the apples to create a splatter effect on the tops of the apples (be careful not to coat the tops of your popsicle sticks). Let apples rest until chocolate has set.To give as gifts: Wrap each apple with a square of cellophane and tie with a festive ribbon. Encourage recipients to eat within 2 days of dipping (they are best if eaten the same day).