Don't wait for Halloween to double dip the season's best apples in vanilla caramel and your favorite chocolate. These make pretty and delicious gifts. Make the full batch of caramel even if you'll only dip 8 apples. Leftover caramel keeps for ages. Simply reheat to dip more apples of dilute with cream to make caramel sauce.
SERVES UP TO 16
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons heavy cream
3 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Up to 16 small apples, cold
1 1/4 pounds chocolate
5 to 6 ounces chopped toasted nuts (optional)
Long-handled silicone spatula or wooden spoon
Up to 16 Popsicle sticks
Combine the sugar, corn syrup, honey and salt in a heavy-bottomed 3-quart saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring with a spatula or spoon, until the mixture begins to simmer around the edges. Wash the sugar and syrup from inside the pot with wet pastry brush or a wad if paper towel dipped in water. Cover and continue to cook for about 3 minutes. Meanwhile rinse the spatula or spoon before using it again later. Uncover the pot and wash the sides once more. Insert the candy thermometer without letting it touch the bottom of the pot. Cook, uncovered, without stirring, until the mixture reached 305 degrees F., 5 to 10 minutes. Meanwhile, bring the cream to a simmer and keep it hot until needed
When the sugar mixture reached 305 degrees F., turn the heat off. Stir in the butter chunks. Gradually stir in the hot cream; it will bubble up and steam dramatically, so be careful. Turn the heat back on under the pot so that the mixture boils energetically but not violently. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the temperature reaches 250 degrees F., about 30 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat. Stir in the vanilla. Transfer the caramel into a smaller pot or heatproof bowl deep enough to dip the apples. Cool for 10 minutes.
Impale each apple on a stick. Holding the stick, dip and apple into the caramel, allowing the excess to flow back into the pot. Set the apple on a sheet of wax paper. Is the caramel gets too cool it will slide entirely off the apples! If necessary, reheat gently (without simmering), then continue to dip. Repeat to coat each apple. Let the dipped apples set until the caramel is cool and firm, at least 30 minutes.
Melt 1 pound of chocolate. Dip each apple into the chocolate, allowing excess chocolate to flow back into the bowl. Sprinkle with nuts if desired. Set the dipped apples on a tray lined with wax paper. Apples coated with untempered chocolate must be refrigerated to prevent discoloration. Apples coated with tempered chocolate may be kept at room temperature.