This is a super fun project to make with the kids and you can either take the simpler route of buying caramels and melting them down, or making your own caramel from scratch! I opted to try both because that’s what I do! I found that homemade caramel was far superior tasting, but a lot more work. Sally’s Baking Addiction has a great recipe for homemade caramel with fantastic directions on how to make it. Then, all you do is melt dark chocolate, dip your apples in the caramel, and once they’ve cooled and the caramel has firmed up a bit, spider web to your heart’s delight using a pastry bag with a small #3 or 4 tip!
There are a ton of great caramel recipes out there, and I am a big fan of using one that I know works really well, so I used Sally’s Baking Addiction recipe for my caramel. It’s just six simple ingredients that you will most likely have in your cupboard already: butter, heavy cream, light corn syrup, light brown sugar, unsalted butter, salt, and vanilla extract! The tricky part about making caramel is waiting for the candy thermometer to register between 235 and 240 F, which is right where you want it to be to get the caramel to turn out just right. I actually think that close to 235 is better for caramel apples because once it reaches 240, the caramel becomes pretty thick and more difficult to coat the apples.
The main thing you need to do to get the caramel to stick to the apples is to prepare the apples by washing and drying them. On my first go around, the apples were not completely dry and the caramel formed little air bubbles all over the apple. So be sure to clean and dry your apples thoroughly. And this goes for whether you’re making your own or simply melting down store-bought caramels. Now, I think we are ready to begin!
Dark Chocolate Spider Web Caramel Apples
- Silpat mat (silicone baking mat)
- Pastry bag with coupler
- #3 or #4 decorating tip
- Rotating cake turntable
- Candy thermometer (if making your own caramel)
- 6 apples can be your favorite apple, but I love Honeycrisp the best for these
- 24 oz. caramels it’s a little more than you need, but you need to have some for snitching!
- Or 2-3 cups of homemade caramel
- 10 oz. dark chocolate Trader Joe’s or Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Chocolate Chips
- 6 Caramel Apple Wooden Sticks
- Clean and dry your apples. Leave them at room temperature once cleaned. Leaving them in the refrigerator can cause water droplets to form on the clean and dry apples.
- Insert a wooden stick in the top of the apples where the stems were. Set the apples aside on a well-greased baking sheet or a Silpat mat.
- Melt caramels in a heavy-bottomed saucepan, stirring constantly until completely melted. Allow it to cool for about 5 minutes or so before dipping apples.
- Or, make a batch of homemade caramel! (Recipe below)
- When the caramel is ready, dip apples holding them by the stick and swirl in the melted caramel until evenly coated. You may need to tilt the pan a little with your free hand! As you pull the apple out of the caramel give it a little soft shake to allow excess to drip off. Place apple on the Silpat mat. Continue with remaining apples.
- Allow caramel to set up for at least 30 minutes or until firm, before adding chocolate spider webs.
To Make Dark Chocolate Spider Webs
- Melt the chocolate in a small saucepan. Allow it to cool to room temperature. It will thicken up slightly, which is good for making the webs.
- Load the melted and cooled chocolate into your pastry bag fitted with the tip and coupler. Starting with the pastry bag tip pointed to the top of the apples, make 8 vertical lines from top to 1/2-inch from the bottom all the way around each apple. Once you’ve made your vertical lines, connect them using a little swooping motion so that you have curvy horizontal lines that connect all of the vertical lines. Allow to cool completely. If you want to wrap them in cellophane wrap, refrigerate for 30 minutes to allow the chocolate to set up firmly first.Voila!
Sally’s Baking Addiction Caramel Recipe for Caramel Apples
- 1 ¾ cups heavy cream
- 1 cup light corn syrup
- 2 cups light brown sugar (packed)
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter room temp
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Combine the heavy cream, corn syrup, brown sugar, butter, and salt in a 3-quart heavy-duty over medium heat. Do not turn the temperature up or down – Sally says to keep it at medium the entire time the caramel cooks. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the butter is melted.
- Once melted, brush down the sides of the pan with a dampened pastry brush and attach a candy thermometer to the pan, making sure the tip does not touch the bottom of the pan, as this will render a false reading.
- Without stirring, let the mixture cook and bubble until it reaches anywhere between 235⁰F to 240⁰F. This will take about 20 minutes or longer to reach this temperature, but don’t worry about the time, just focus on the temperature reading and use it as your guide. The temperature heats up slowly and then moves quickly as it gets hotter, so keep your eye on it!
- Once the temp reaches 235⁰ to 240⁰F, remove the pot from the burner and carefully stir in the vanilla. Stirring too vigorously will cause air bubbles that could pop up on the coated apple!
- Allow the caramel to cool for 10-15 minutes until it thickens slightly. If the caramel is too thin to cat the apples, let it cool and thicken for 5-10 more minutes before dipping the apples.