I LOVE caramel apples. Well really I love caramel, and I like apples. But something about the combination really works, and brings back many childhood memories. When I was a kid, on very special occasions, (mainly Halloween), my mom would buy these caramel discs that came on wax paper that you were meant to wrap around an apple to make caramel apples. I loved them so much I would generally just eat the discs straight off the paper before we could even get to making the apples. Hence my lifelong love of caramel began. When I went dairy free almost 15 years ago (Holy moly!), I mourned my beloved caramel. I could never find a dairy free alternative. About four years ago, while on an incredibly restricted diet to heal some autoimmune issues I was having, I discovered this caramel recipe out of sheer desperation. Necessity truly is the mother of invention. I NEEDED something that felt like a treat. I knew I could have coconut milk and I could have honey. I figured if cream and sugar made caramel, then couldn’t coconut milk and honey do the same thing? Luckily for me and for all of us it did! After a little trial and error I managed to make a really yummy healthier version of caramel that is so similar to the caramel of my youth in both taste and texture. Now I am not a profesh candy maker so you won’t find exact science here. No candy thermometers or the like. This recipe is so simple to make, but there is a large margin for error. Well not error, because it’s all good. But if you cook it too long and it gets too dark in color you will end up with more of a hard crunchy (yet chewy too, think Now and Laters) toffee than a caramel. Delicious in its own right. However if you want a soft chewy caramel you have to eyeball it very carefully to make sure it isn’t getting too dark in color. No matter, if you over cook it you will have a yummy toffee or brittle you can eat as candy or crumble on coconut milk ice cream. YUM! I need to try that actually. Okay let’s get to making some caramel apples!
Dairy free Caramel Apples
What you will need
2 small organic apples of your choice (I like green for the tartness)
3/4 Cup Full Fat Coconut Milk
1/2 Cup Creamy wildflower Honey (THIS is the one I use and love. This honey is white and milder in flavor. Closer to sugar in taste so your caramel doesn’t taste overwhelmingly like honey. Also, it is white so you can gage how dark your caramel is getting. THIS one works too. I have never used regular dark honey for this recipe so use at your own risk, and tell me how it goes!)
1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla
1/8 Teaspoon sea salt
Squares of Parchment paper big enough to wrap around your apple
2 Popsicle sticks, or any stick strong enough to hold the apple
2 rubber bands or some twine
Extra sea salt to garnish if you wish
Combine all ingredients into a pan. Bring to a boil over medium heat stirring constantly. Continually scrape the sides of the pan and keep stirring.
You will see the caramel start to reduce and begin to darken in color.
When it gets to a golden brown color, (on my stove it takes about 5-7 minutes) just a shade darker than the parchment paper, remove from the stove.
Pour the caramel onto the parchment paper. Let it cool for 10 minutes.
Wash and dry your apples VERY well or the caramel may have a hard time sticking to the waxy apple skin.
Place your stick in the apple, and the apple in the center of the caramel.
Wrap the sides of the parchment paper around the apple and press the parchment paper up the apple to distribute the caramel evenly. Secure with a rubber band or twine, and continue to press the caramel up and over the apple so it is evenly distributed.
*Try not to get too many folds in the paper around the top as it makes it a little harder to get the paper off.
Place in the freezer for 10-15 minutes to set the caramel.
Bring to room temperature to eat. I like to sprinkle a little sea salt on top as I love salted caramel. If you’re not going to eat it right away, store it the refrigerator because the fat in coconut milk melts at room temp so the caramel can get too soft if it gets warm, and it will start to slide off the apple into a delicious chewy pile.
By the way, the picture below was my first attempt, and I cooked it too long. This batch was more of a toffee apple if you will. I wanted to just show you the darker color so you know what color is too dark for soft caramel.
That’s it! So simple, and SO good. Most importantly? totally healthy. Your kid’s won’t be able to tell the difference and you can cut back on their refined sugar consumption this Halloween without them feeling deprived.
You can also place this caramel in a Tupperware or shallow dish and store it in the fridge if you just want some delish caramel around for snacking. Bring to room temp before eating as it will harden in the fridge. You can also cut it into little cubes for a traditional caramel candy. I personally just like pulling off pieces from the big yummy blob but that’s just me.
Sorry for my janky manicure! Life with a toddler, you know how it is.