Caramel Apples — A Very Sticky New Year
If the purpose of dipping apple slices into honey on Rosh Hashanah is to bring about a sweet year, caramel candy apples offer a kind of extreme dipping. The recipe puts a new twist on a custom that is hundreds of years old.
Some believe that the tradition of dipping apples in honey originated from Solomon’s “Song of Songs” which says, “As the apple is rare and unique among the trees of the forest, so is my beloved — Israel.” In addition, a midrash, or biblical tale, says that trees and all vegetation were created on Rosh Hashanah eve. Others argue that the tradition came from Eastern Europe, where few biblical fruits, other than the apple, were common. Apple trees were also harvested around the holiday season. Either way, it is a beautiful custom: apples, the fruits of love, created on Rosh Hashanah eve, dipped in nature’s sweetest goo. It’s a sticky, finger-licking reminder of a sweet year.
Caramel candy apples are a snazzy version of the practice, like an ancient tradition on steroids. The process of making them is rather straightforward and a fun way to spend an afternoon in the kitchen, especially with kids. Each caramel apple is dipped in a delicious lacquer of the gooey stuff and individually designed with endless options for colorful toppings.
To make the tradition complete, our family recipe includes a healthy dollop of honey. Shana Tova and a (very) sweet year to all!
8-10 apples (red or green)
8-10 Popsicle sticks
2 cups of brown sugar
400 grams (14 oz) of condensed milk
1 large tablespoon of honey
200 grams (7 oz) of unsalted butter
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Choice of toppings: colored sprinkles, chocolate chips, mini M&M’s, chopped nuts, gummy bears, marshmallows, coconut, chopped biscuits, etc.
1) Remove stems from apples, then wash and dry the apples.
2) Insert sticks through the top of the apple, where the stem was. (The stick should go about three-quarters down into the body of the apple).
3) Combine the sugar, butter, condensed milk, honey and vanilla extract in a 2 1/2 or 3 quart pot, and place it on a small flame.
4) With a wooden spoon, mix and break down the ingredients so that you end up with a big caramel-brown goo slowly cooking in the pot. Cook until the sugar crystals are dissolved (test by rubbing a little of the caramel between your fingers to feel when it is no longer gritty, but be careful not to burn yourself).
5) Leave the mixture to cool for 10 minutes.
6) Once the mixture has cooled, but is still a little warm, hold the stick and immerse the apples into the mixture, fully covering the apple.
7) Place the coated apples on a plate and put the plate in the fridge for 15 minutes
8) This last step is especially fun for kids: Place the toppings of choice in small bowls and then insert the apples in the toppings until the toppings reach about a third of the way up the apple.
9) Return apples to the refrigerator to chill for at least half an hour.
Now all you have to do is place the plate of Rosh Hashanah Caramel Candy Apples on the table and watch people’s reactions. This is a dish that brings out the children in everyone.