This Halloween I wanted to make something special for our friends. We had a few scary movies planned but I wanted to make an autumn treat. When I saw 101 Cookbook‘s recipe for caramel apples, I was instantly won over. The ingredients were simple: honey, cream, salt, apples. The previous weekend, I picked up several kinds of apples at a local orchard and I had some local blueberry honey from a previous farm visit. Local heavy cream was easy to find and I figured adding in some imported french fleur de sel wouldn’t ruin my almost all-local sweets. I also decided to toast and roughly chop some almonds which not only would provide a nice crunch and counter balance the sweetness, but would also provide some traction to prevent the caramel from sticking to my baking sheet. The resulting apples were beautiful and delicious. I should note, that if you don’t like honey, don’t make these as as the honey flavour is definitely there, even with a mild-tasting honey.
For the apples, I used Granny Smith’s and Cox Orange Pippins which are both very crisp apples with a nice bit of tartness. I purchased the lollipop sticks at a local kitchen shop in Chinatown and got to work on the caramel. It was easy going and while I do have a candy thermometer, I really rely more on the old fashioned cold water test for figuring out which stage my caramel has reached. I can never get my candy thermometer to reach the “hard ball” stage but using my fingers to gauge a bit of caramel dropped in ice water never fails. For me it took about 30-35 minutes to reach caramel perfection. I was afraid that the caramel would slide off the apples, but luckily that didn’t happen!
After dipping the apples in the caramel, I had extra caramel leftover, so I spread some out on my silpat mat, adding in some roasted almonds and some fleur de sel and let cool in the refrigerator. Once it was cool and ready to cut, I sliced the caramel into squares and wrapped the golden nuggets in waxed paper.
salted honey caramel apples
(adapted from 101 Cookbooks)
8 tart, crisp apples
8 lollipop or popsicle sticks
1 3/4 c heavy cream
1 3/4 c mild-flavoured honey
2-3 t fleur de sel
1/3 c chopped roasted almonds
Pierce apples with a stick and set aside.
In a large heavy-bottomed pot, heat the cream and salt until small bubbles appear. Whisk in the honey and bring to a boil, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. You want to bring the mixture to a constant steady boil, so turn down the heat to medium or medium-high. If you are using a candy thermometer, you should reach 250-255F or do the cold water test. It should take 20 – 35 minutes to reach this stage. Look for a rich, golden caramel colour and the mixture should look heavy. The caramel reached as high as 250F and I let it boil away at that temperature for 5 minutes or so, testing always in cold water to make sure I had the correct consistency. Take caramel off the stove and carefully dip each apple in the caramel mixture, setting the finished apples on lightly oiled waxed paper or a silpat mat covered in chopped almonds. Place in fridge to set and then wrap each apple in waxed paper.
If you have any leftover caramel, pour the remaining caramel onto a well oiled sheet or silpat mat and sprinkle with almonds and fleur de sel. Refrigerate until cool and cut into squares, wrapping each square in waxed paper.