Lacy Caramel Apples + Creative Paper Sticks

Caramel apples are one of those things that are as much fun to make as they are to eat. Perhaps because there's an endless variety of ways to make them, and so many different types of fun goodies to add to the outside. 

For our Halloween party this year I'm having a Caramel Apple Bar for dessert. I think everyone will enjoy decorating their own caramel apple with a variety of choices of melted orange, white, and milk chocolate, nuts, crushed butterfingers and toffee bits, mini M&M's, sprinkles, and chocolate monster eyes (you'll find chocolate monster eyes with the cake decorating supplies) - the options are limitless.

Today, however, I'm sharing the way I make these easy Lacy Caramel Apples and a fun way to add a special touch with rolled paper lollipop sticks. Let's begin:

Step 1: Assemble the ingredients.

When it comes to caramel everyone has their own preference from using caramel bits or wrapped caramels to making it from scratch. Honestly, my preference is a caramel loaf of high quality, ready-to-use melting caramel. I use Peter's Caramel that I purchase from a kitchen/bakery supply store like Orson Gygi, but if you Google "Peter's Caramel" you'll see that you can find it at several different places.

Chocolate wafers for melting is my preference. Some people use baking chips. For these lacy apples we're using three different chocolates: white, milk, and dark.

Three small plastic bottles with small tips. (Or you can use a fork to drizzle the chocolate).

I prefer using round lollipop sticks, but you can use popsicle sticks.

Apples (I use either Honey Crisp or green Granny Smith)

Step 2. Prepare the apples.

You need firm, crisp apples. If possible, buy apples that aren't waxed. The wax will keep the caramel from sticking. Wash your apples well. Dry them thoroughly and remove the stems. 

Step 3. Prepare the sticks. 

It's easy to add a touch of class to the look of your apples simply by dressing up the sticks. Using crafting tape (like Washi Tape) you can add a seasonal flair with a holiday-specific tape, or personalize it with a tape for a baby shower, birthday party, etc.

Beginning at the top of the flat end of the stick place the tape at an angle, twirl the stick with the fingers of one hand while allowing the tape to glide through the fingers of your other hand securing it to the stick.  Leave a space about an inch at the pointed end of the stick. You want to leave enough space to insert the stick into the apple without any tape. The process only takes seconds per stick and they look fantastic!

Insert a stick into the stem end of an apple--about 3/4 of an inch so that they are in there firmly. Refrigerate the apples. This will make the caramel harden faster.

Step 4.  Melt the caramel.

I like to melt the caramel in a slow cooker. It takes longer to melt, but the caramel can be kept warm for an extended period of time. The caramel melts gently on the high setting and can be kept melted on the warm setting for 1-2 hours. This is very convenient if you'll be dipping a lot of apples or want to do this for a party activity.

To soften the caramel, add 1/2 to 1 tsp. evaporated milk to 1 lb. of caramel.  To thicken caramel, add 1/2 to 1 oz. confectioners' sugar to 1 lb. caramel. With Peter's Caramel, I've never had to thicken it.

Maintain caramel in the 160-180 degree F range.  Be careful not to let it scorch, and if it begins to thicken the heat is getting too low. 

While the caramel is melting, I prepare the sticks and the apples. 

Step 5. Dip the apples in caramel.

Completely coat the apple with caramel (including pierce point) to obtain maximum shelf life. You can spoon some of the caramel on, too. Lift the apple out of the caramel and let the excess drip off. I scrape the bottom with a knife or spoon. Place apple onto parchment paper.

For fastest set up and to minimize "bun feet", refrigerate apples after dipping for 15 minutes, or until the caramel is set.

If you're adding nuts (or other toppings) you need to let your caramel cool, then roll the apple in your nuts and other toppings while the caramel is still soft.

Step 6. Drizzle with chocolate.

Melt the chocolate wafers in the microwave on high for 1 minute. Stir. Continue microwaving for 30 second intervals at 50% power, stirring well after each interval until melted.  Be careful not to scorch. 

After you melt your chocolate, pour it into your bottle. I prefer using a bottle over a fork because I have more control with the chocolate, and while I'm not using the bottles I keep them in warm water to keep the chocolate soft. Otherwise, you're constantly having to re-heat it.

For a pretty lacy look, drizzle the milk chocolate back and forth in the same direction around the entire apple. This is a quick, fluid motion. No need to be too careful. Next, do the same with the dark chocolate in the opposite direction.

Lastly, drizzle the white chocolate in an opposite direction. Again, when you're not using a bottle of chocolate, keep it in the warm bath water and exchange the water frequently as it cools. The key to keeping the chocolate flowing smoothly is keeping it melted. If necessary, reheat it in the microwave.


Tip: How to store your caramel apples.

Store your finished apples uncovered in the fridge. Or, you can wrap each of them individually in cellophane bags. 

If you bag them up, don't store them in the fridge; if you do, there will be condensation inside the bag. The apples will keep several days in bags at room temperature.

What is your favorite caramel apple topping?

Have a great day!

Warmest regards,
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Halloween Party Ideas So Easy, It's SCARY!

Looking for easy Halloween party ideas and decorations that look spooktacular and are easy on the budget? 

Here are a few ideas we're doing this year...

I'm not one to completely transform my home into a haunted house, but we do love having a party with games, costumes, and lots of fun activities. 

I won't be spending time washing dishes this year. It's all about easy clean up and enjoying my guests. And that means no fancy dishes - just lots of color!

Napkins make perfect placemats!

One of the finds I'm most excited about this year are these darling chalk-coloring Haunted Houses from Target. For $3 each the kids will love finding these at their plate when they arrive. They'll have loads of fun coloring their Haunted House while we ready the food.

The "Boo" drink bottles are Tag bottles with screw-top lids and straws.

I thought it would make a fun party favor to send a 4-pack home with each family. You can find these at Target, Walmart, and I've seen them at many boutiques. Add a bow and spider for a spooktacular look.

In addition to an easy meal of chili and cornbread, this year I'm having a Caramel Apple Bar!

Tomorrow I have a tutorial for the lacy caramel apples and how to add the easy, special touch to the paper sticks.

For our party, I'll dip the apples in caramel and have them ready beforehand for everyone to decorate with chocolate, nuts, sprinkles, and monster chocolate eyes - just to save time.

Be sure to check back tomorrow to learn how to make these pretty lacy chocolate caramel apples.

Pennant banners always add a punch to your party decor.

These darling banners range in price from $1 - $3 from Target. For the price, you can't purchase the supplies to make them yourself and they are really nice banners.

Isn't this little witch spooktacular? 

No messy cleaning and carving. No drawing and cutting patterns.

These felt Pumpkin Stickers peel off and stick right onto the clean surface of a pumpkin. The kids will love making their own spooktacular pumpkin. They cost $1 each and can be found at Target in a variety of spooky characters.

The kids get so much candy so I prefer to give a favor of fun items filled with items other than sweets for my grandchildren to take home. Again, these fun items can be found at Target and many of them come in packages of multiples for less than $3.

I hope you have a SPOOKTACULAR week. Check back all week for more Halloween ideas. Tomorrow will be the Lacy Chocolate Caramel Apples and a fun idea to add a special touch to paper sticks.

Until next time, have a great day!

Best regards,
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Autumn Splendor Inside and Out

"Autumn carries more gold in its pocket than all the other seasons." - Jim Bishop

A fun way to get in the spirit of the season is to place seasonal colors around your home. Autumn is all about the rich, warm tones so put up a lot of oranges, rustic yellows, and browns. I personally love using golds and copper to add a warm touch of Autumn.

 Here are a few ways I've introduced Autumn at my home.

I like to keep this built-in china cabinet in my kitchen/dinning area styled with seasonal items.

To keep your shelves looking stylish, don't overcrowd your dishes and accessories. Store extra dishes in a separate cupboard.

The ceramic pumpkins are from Pottery Barn.

The faux pumpkins are from Pier 1 Imports.

The white dishes are from Williams-Sonoma.  They come in sets of 12 for a very reasonable price. It's a great way to purchase dishes for a large group for a reasonable price, or for a condo or second home. They're also nice for everyday dishes as they're not fine china, but high quality fired porcelain. If you're interested, see HERE for more information.

I love pumpkins! I tried to control myself this year and did a little better about not buying so many. Next year I want to try growing my own! Do any of you grow your own pumpkins?

As my flowers die in my flower pots, I place a gourd or pumpkin in the container and they look so colorful and festive!

I'm thinking about drilling random holes in my pumpkins this year. What ideas do you have for carving your pumpkins?

I hope you're having a great week!

Warmest regards,
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