One of the better things about apple season? Caramel apples. And not just any caramel apples. Fancy ones.
Apples dipped in melted caramel candies and then white chocolate… and then dark chocolate. Apples dipped in homemade salted caramel and then chocolate… and then rolled in M&Ms. Or chopped nuts. Or crushed oreos. Whatever makes your inner kid happy.
But for these grown-up caramel apples, your inner kid will need to dig around and find his/her fake ID. These apples are coated with a red wine-infused caramel.
I used a ruby port but you can use any red wine, really. I chose port because 1) we make our own and 2) the noticeable dark berry and chocolate notes are perfect for dessert and perfect to pair with caramel on apples.
The port-flavored caramel is pretty phenomenal. The caramel doesn’t get rock hard so it’s easy to eat. Should you not have a stash of your own port, head to the store and pick up a bottle of “lower shelf” port – something drinkable yet not so pricey that it will make you cry to watch half of it simmer away on the stovetop (something like Taylor Port or Trader Joe’s carries a ~$6 bottle that’s perfect for a project like this).
Use any small-ish apple you like. Honeycrisps were small and on sale this week so that’s what I used. Gala, Fuji, Braeburn, Sweeties… Granny Smiths. All make excellent caramel apples. But unless you picked the apples yourself, they’re probably coated with wax. Make sure to take the time to follow the (annoyingly tedious) steps to remove the wax from the apples. This will help you make a caramel apple instead of an apple sitting in a puddle of caramel. Also make sure you let the caramel cool down to under 200 degrees before dipping. I dipped at the recommended temperature of 200 and think the caramel was still too thin at that point.
Caramel can be finicky sometimes. Take a small spoonful of the caramel before dipping the apples and put it on a small plate. If it firms at room temperature, then your apples will be fine at room temp. If it’s too soft, that means your caramel mixture didn’t get hot enough and you’ll need to keep the apples in the fridge so the caramel will stay on the apple. It happens. Still delicious
Port Wine Caramel Apples
Sweet port wine infuses these grown-up caramel apples.
- 1 1/2 cups port wine (any red wine, really)
- 8-12 small apples (any apples, I used Honeycrisp)
- 8-12 skewers or popsicle sticks
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup light corn syrup
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1 cup heavy cream, divided
- Melted chocolate, for dipping (optional)
- In a small sauce pan, bring the wine to a boil over medium-high heat and reduce to 1/2 cup (~15 minutes) and set aside.
- Line a baking sheet with a Silpat or a lightly buttered piece of wax or parchment paper and make sure you have enough room on one of your fridge shelves for the pan.
- Fill a medium pot 3/4 full of water and bring to a boil.
- Fill a medium bowl with ice water and set next to the cooktop. Have a dish towel nearby.
- Skewer each apple through the center.
- Working 2 apples at a time, submerge the apples in the boiling water for 20 seconds.
- Remove and immediately scrub the outsides of the apples dry (this removes the wax), dropping them into the ice water for ~20 seconds when finished.
- Repeat until all apples have been dewaxed, rechilled, dried, and placed on a lined baking sheet.
- Chill the apples while making the caramel.
- Heat butter, sugar, corn syrup and salt in a large pan over medium-high heat.
- Stir until the sugar has dissolved and then add 3/4 cup cream.
- Clip a candy thermometer on the pan and boil to 235 degrees.
- Remove from heat and stream in red wine reduction while stirring.
- Return to heat and boil to 255 degrees and then stream in the remaining cream while stirring.
- Turn off the heat and then check every 5 minutes until temperature has dropped to under 200 degrees (see notes in last paragraph above).
- Holding the apples by the skewer, twirl in the pan to cover 3/4 of the apple and let drain for 10 seconds.
- Use a knife to scrape the excess off the bottom and hold the apple upside down for 15 seconds.
- Return apple to the baking sheet, repeating until done.
- Place baking sheet in the fridge for 30 minutes before dipping in melted chocolate (if desired) or individually wrapping and re-refrigerating.
- May need to keep chilled for best results (see above).
Yields: 8-12 servings
Estimated time: 1 hour 20 minutes