Fall is here and that means apples, pumpkin, cinnamon, and all kinds of delicious foods that for some reason, we love to eat when the leaves change color. I was discussing this with my daughter who is on a dairy free diet and would really like some fun fall treats. We were wondering if it is possible to make a dairy-free version of caramel apples, so I started searching. The one I found also happens to be refined-sugar-free and is sweetened with honey.
Y’all don’t know this yet, but I LOVE LOVE LOVE to experiment with new recipes…….unless it involves a candy thermometer!!! Ugggghhh! I have this weird fear of failure when it comes to making candy – candy is super sensitive to temperature and timing, and I don’t like that kind of pressure. I’ve heard too many stories about divinity failures to get excited about making candy. (If you don’t know what divinity is, then you haven’t lived yet – go try some! Don’t even think about making it though.) For a non-candy maker, this caramel was going to be a HUGE challenge!
To make it worse, I’ve been talking about making these caramel apples for over a week but just kept avoiding it. Now today is the day, and I decided to face my fear, start making them, and see what happens. You would THINK that since I’ve been avoiding this for an entire week that I would have all four ingredients I need to make them. Yes, just four – that’s all – one of them being the wooden sticks to put in the apples! Which I didn’t buy. Because I thought I had some. And did I look for them before I started making the caramel???!! Of course not! While it was boiling, and the directions clearly say not to leave the room, I was running all over the house looking for those little cake pop sticks that I bought last year. Can’t find them, so where’s those shish kabob sticks we used to have??!! Nowhere! And about the time I decided I’d have to use our fondue forks from the 70’s, the caramel was done. Yes, you read that right – I have forks from my parent’s fondue pot, but I can’t find the bag of wooden sticks I bought last year.
I won’t go into the details of my caramel making experience, but I’ll just say that candy making still isn’t my thing. However, a few minor mishaps later, the caramel apples are done! If you follow the directions on the link below, it’s pretty clear what to do, except for prepping the apples wasn’t on the original directions (but now it is).
Here’s what I’ll say about the caramel…it’s a great consistency and very honey-y. If you are ok with that, then you’ll probably enjoy the flavor! But when it comes to putting it on the apple, well, that’s a different story altogether. If there is a trick to getting caramel to stick to an apple, then I didn’t know it. But with a little persuasion, I think I did a pretty good job! Once I was done though, I found this tip from Betty Crocker on how to prep the apple so the caramel will stick. Basically, just dip the apple in hot water for about 30 seconds to remove the wax coating. You can tell in the pics that my caramel keeps running off, but it still tastes good!
I wanted to dress them up a bit, so I played around with chopped pecans, chopped dark chocolate chips, and melted dark chocolate chips. In the end, I think this was a good recipe and I’d make it again, but I’ll want to remove the apple wax next time! I used a recipe for the caramel from the Paleo Mom.
- 1 cup honey
- 1 cup coconut cream (use just the thick part of 2 cans of chilled full fat coconut milk)
- dash salt
- some apples, chilled–use any variety you like to eat
- popsicle sticks or cakepop sticks (fondue forks work)
- Prep your apples by dipping them in hot water (almost boiling) for about 30 seconds. Then dry and return to refrigerator until the caramel is ready.
- Combine honey, coconut cream and salt in a medium, heavy-bottomed pan. Mash the coconut to combine. Attach candy thermometer to the side of the pan.
- Turn to medium-low. Heat until it reaches 245F (don’t go over 248F). No need to stir. Around 220F, it will start to bubble… if it looks like it’s going to bubble over, stir it a little to pop some of the bubbles. This process should take 20+ minutes and is pretty hands off, so be patient (but don’t leave the kitchen!).
- Once it reaches 245F, remove from the heat. Let the caramel cool down to under 200F before dipping apples (180F works great for a thick coating).
- While you’re waiting for the caramel to cool, skewer the apples with popsicle sticks if you remembered to get them. Also line a baking sheet with wax or parchment paper AND grease it or you’ll have a sticky mess.
- Once the caramel is cool, dip the apples to evenly coat. Place them on your prepared baking sheet and place it in the fridge for the caramel to harden. If you want to roll it in nuts or drizzle dark chocolate like I did, then do so before you refrigerate them.
Cutting them became one of those “Pinterest fails” because I first tried to use an apple cutter. You can see here what happened when I did – all of the good stuff slid off! LOL!
So, I used a knife on the next one for a much better presentation. The caramel is sliding some here too, but of course they taste the same no matter what! Enjoy!!