Salted Caramel Apples

Over the years, I have discovered that apple desserts are always big crowd-pleasers.  Whether in pie, pancakes, or eaten plain, the fruit has large audience of devoted fans.  When fresh apples start to appear at the farmer’s market, I get excited.  Although these apples are often small and misshapen when compared to their supermarket cousins, they wow us with flavor.

Biting into the first fall apple forces your  lips to pucker, with juice running down your chin.  I always wonder why I eat apples during any other time of the year, as they just don’t taste the same.

When thinking of another dessert for the Thanksgiving table, I decided to feature the apple in a classic–caramel apples.  With Heidi’s homemade honey caramel, an extra pinch of sea salt, and a sprinkling of roasted peanuts, these were just as popular as the pumpkin pie.

Salted Caramel Apples
(Adapted from 101 Cookbooks)
Extra caramel works perfectly for candy.  Simply pour the unused caramel into a greased, shallow pan and let cool at room temperature for about 1 hour.  Cut into small rectangles and wrap in waxed paper.
16 small apples, washed & dried
1 cup roasted peanuts, crushed
2 cups heavy cream
1 cinnamon stick
2 teaspoons sea salt
2 cups honey (I used clover honey)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Special Equipment: Candy Thermometer & Skewers
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Insert a skewer into the top of each apple and place on the baking sheet.  Place the peanuts in a small bowl and set aside.
In a large, thick-bottomed saucepan, heat the cream with the cinnamon stick and salt over medium heat until small bubbles start to appear around the rim of the pot.  Pour in the honey.  Bring the mixture to a boil.  Lower the heat and bring to a steady simmer, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or a heat-proof spatula.  Continue to stir until the mixture reaches 255-260 degrees on the candy thermometer.  Remove from the heat, stir in the vanilla, and let cool until the mixture starts to thicken.
When the caramel is thick enough to dip the apples (thin enough to coat the apples, but thick enough so it doesn’t run right off), dunk each apple in the caramel and let the excess run off for approximately 10 seconds.  Roll the apple in the peanuts and set on the baking sheet.  Repeat with the other apples.
*Note: if the caramel ever gets too thick to coat the apples, simply place the pot back on the stove for about 1 minute.