Monday, January 9, 2012

Salted Caramel Apples with Popcorn

I was feeling very selfish this weekend. It was very much a weekend full of 'me' time. I made these salted caramel apples coated in popcorn bits for purely selfish reasons. I wasn't trying to make anything interesting, original or pretty for the blog, I just really wanted to eat a toffee apple and I really wanted caramel popcorn, so I decided to kill two birds with one stone. I figured that if it turned into an ugly mess, I would just eat it and no one would ever have to know. Turns out they look quite pretty, so here they are. It might seem like a stupid, unnecessary or even gross combination to some people, but I wanted it. So I made it, I ate it and it was deeelicious.
In Australia we call them toffee apples, and they're usually coated in a hard, clear (or red tinted) toffee. I loved them when I was a kid, though my Mum hardly ever let me buy them because I would always eat all the toffee and throw out the apple and then run off in a sugar-high daze. It was understandable, the toffee apples were always from the supermarket and the apple inside was always an old, bruised, sad looking thing. And I really like sugar. I found it interesting that the as well as having toffee/candy apples in the US, they also have caramel apples that are covered in a creamy, softer caramel coating and sometimes dipped in toppings. I really love creamy caramel, and I decided that I needed to make these with an awesome salted caramel and then dip them in buttered popcorn.
Anything that involves boiling sugar syrup scares me, because it usually ends in me covered in burns. I decided not to take any risks, I did this salted caramel with a candy thermometer and I used David Lebovitz's salted caramel recipe. It worked perfectly, the caramel turned out beautifully smooth, dark and shiny. And I didn't get any sugar burns! It coated the apples nicely, set well and tasted amazing, with just the right amount of salt. I learnt a nifty tip where you should pour hot water over your apples and then rub them dry before you use them for caramel apples; this helps to remove any wax coating and helps the caramel stick to the surface of the apple easier. I still had a little trouble getting the caramel to stick at first, when the caramel is at its hottest it ran off the surface a little too easily. But once the caramel started to cool and thicken slightly it worked fine. I immediately ate as many of these evil apples as I could, and then wandered away from the kitchen in a familiar sugar-high daze. Unfortunately this did mean that I left a few of the leftover caramel apples on the kitchen counter and they didn't keep so well in the open, I woke up the next day and all the caramel had melted off the apples. I really should have wrapped them up in cellophane, so I will have to remember that for next time. There will definitely be a next time. P.S. Your teeth will not be happy with you because of all the chewy caramel, apple skin and popcorn bits.
Popcorn Salted Caramel Apples
(makes 8-10 caramel apples, salted caramel from David Lebovitz's recipe)
3/4 cup (180 ml) heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract or bean paste
Heaped 1/2 teaspoon sea salt flakes
1/2 cup (160 g) light corn syrup or golden syrup (I used Lyle’s Golden Syrup)
1 cup (200 g) sugar
4 tbsp (60 g), salted butter, cubed, at room temperature
8-10 small/medium apples (I usually prefer Fuji but this time I had to use Pink Lady) + wooden sticks
100g popcorn, popped and crushed into smaller pieces (I just used microwave butter popcorn as this was all I had available)

NOTE: This recipe creates a soft, chewy and creamy caramel to coat the apples. If you prefer to making a hard, clear toffee apple, this recipe from BBC good food looks decent.
Line a baking tray with baking paper. Remove stalks from apples and place in a large bowl and pour hot water over them and leave for a few seconds, then remove from the water and dry thoroughly. This supposedly helps to remove the wax coating on the apples and helps the caramel to stick to their surface better. Push a wooden stick into each apple, take care not to spear the stick all the way through. Place cream, vanilla, salt and half the butter (30g/2 tbsp) in a small saucepan and gently heat, stirring every now and then until the mixture just comes to the boil. Cover and set aside, keeping it warm while you prepare the sugar syrup.
In a medium or large heavy based saucepan fitted with a candy thermometer, place golden syrup and sugar and place on medium heat, stirring gently until the sugar dissolves. Once the mixture is melted together and the sugar is evenly moistened, only stir is as necessary to keep it from getting any hot spots. Cook until the syrup reaches 155°C(310°F). Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the warm cream mixture (take care as it will bubble up a lot) until it is smooth and even. Return to the heat and cook the mixture to 127°C(260°F). Remove the pan from the heat, lift out the thermometer, and stir in the cubes of butter, until it's melted and the mixture is smooth.

Working quickly, dip and swirl your prepared apples in the hot caramel mixture, hold it over the pan to let the excess drip off then carefully dip the caramel covered apple into the crushed popcorn. With the first few apples the caramel may be quite hot and run off the surface of the apples too easily, so you may need to leave these to set for a few minutes before coating with popcorn. If you work slowly (like me) and the caramel starts to get too viscious for dipping the apples, return it to a low heat and stir until it's runny enough. Place apples on the prepared baking tray and leave to cool completely. Serve immediately, the sooner the better as the popcorn will get soggier and the caramel will soften the longer you leave it/the longer it sits uncovered, you can try wrapping it in cellophane once they are cool to help avoid this. You can also mix any leftover popcorn and caramel together for an extra snack.
Print Friendly and PDF Pin It


  1. heh heh i do like sugar too. i reckon with the popcorn i would use triple butter explosion ohhh yeahh

  2. These are so pretty! We must have some kind of psychic connection because I'm about to make my second batch of caramel popcorn in a week.

  3. these candy apples are so cute! I love that you rolled them in popcorn, what a clever idea!

  4. the caramel looks really good, candy apples remind me of the fair :)

  5. nom nom nom. I just pinned this so I remember to try them.

  6. omg I can't tell you how amazing this looks! my mum would never let me buy toffee apples either so I've never actually eaten one before

  7. Oh yum! I've only ever eaten one toffee apple in my life and it was as hard as a rock. I like the idea of softer caramel no matter how sweet it is.

  8. I just posted this on my blog. I love the idea so much, I wanted to share it!

  9. This is a lovely variation on a great treat. And might I just say your photography is excellent!

  10. Apples dipped in Caramel, Yes! Then covered in popcorn, Double Yes! Great recipe :)

  11. These look so cute! The popcorn makes it look so fun! Great recipe you created Steph :)

  12. These look so delicious - love the sweet & salty.
    Beautiful photos too!

  13. What a fun treat! So happy I found your blog!

  14. Apples and caramel have grown to be one of my favorite snack combinations, and with the addition of salty buttered popcorn...I can't imagine the goodness. YUM!

  15. this post definitely brings me back to my childhood where i whine to my mum in getting me a toffee apple! coated with popcorn just makes it even better

  16. Beautiful photos! These caramel apples look so yummy. This looks like the perfect treat.

  17. Salted butter caramel apple popcorn.
    That's awesome.

  18. Why not have everything you want at once. I love these pictures

  19. OMG i love salted caramel ANYTHING...I have to try these. I've only made caramel apples once...and the hot water trick to get the wax off definitely helps. However, I also learned if you poke the sticks in the apples and pile them in a bowl and place in the freezer for 20 to 30 min...the caramel sets up faster on the apples and doesn't slide off so much. =) Worked well for me!

  20. These look sooo good! I've been following your blog for a while now, I think your photos are amazing. I started my own blog recently and kinda used it as an excuse to buy my first dslr. If I can learn how to use my camera (im a total noob!) so my pics turn out half as good as yours I'll be a happy woman! Keep up the good work :)

  21. Looks delicious love love your photos xo

  22. YUM! We loved these Salted Caramel Apples sooo much we have shared your recipe with our facebook fans!


Comments are moderated and will be published ASAP. If you are viewing this on your phone, you might have to click the Preview button before posting your comment for it to work. People who comment make my day! ♥