Apples. They’re pretty much the unofficial mascot of fall that everyone seems to love.
(I’m sorry, pumpkin, but not everyone loves you. I sure love you but just being honest.)
Apples are delicious, versatile, and healthy. They can be the star of a dish or help boost other flavors with their range of sweetness and tartness. I love apples so much that sometimes I feel a lot like Bubba from the movie “Forrest Gump” when describing all the ways I love to eat apples. Don’t get me started…
But one way to make them the star of the show for all ages is one of my all-time favorite foods – caramel apples. And a caramel apple bar is a fun and easy way to make it happen. Here are some tips and ideas to help make one for yourself:
I like to use Golden Delicious, Granny Smith or Jonagold apples because they provide enough crunch but aren’t too sweet. The toppings are plenty sweet enough, so pick an apple that is less on the sweet side and more on the tart like these above.
Now when it comes to slicing the apples, I like to cut mine into quarters or halves and put them on sticks so people can have a few different choices of toppings on each. Plus, they are the perfect size for little hands. You can also cut apples into thin slices using a knife or a mandolin and make apple chips for caramel apple nachos.
My best tip is wait to cut your apples until the very last second because they will brown, and although they’ll still taste great, they may not look as appealing. But if you need to cut them in advance, brush the apples with lemon juice or any juice containing citric acid or sprinkle them with ascorbic acid.
There’s really no set list of toppings to choose from, but here’s a start. Use what you have in your pantry or get creative adding a few of your own favorites. I like to display my toppings in muffin tins and refill as needed because it allows for lots of topping choices while keeping them organized and easy to use.
- Caramel topping (I like to use Kraft caramels and melt according to package directions.You could also use jarred caramel sauce or make your own. To keep it warm, use a small slow cooker or fondue pot.)
- Chopped peanuts
- Chopped pecans
- Toffee pieces
- Chopped pretzels
- Chopped Butterfinger
- Mini M&M’s
- Chopped Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
- Graham crackers
- Milk chocolate chips
- White chocolate chips
- Dark chocolate chips
- Pumpkin seeds
- Sea salt
Let’s be honest – caramel apples are sticky and messy. Not only is it a good idea to keep plenty of napkins or wet wipes near your table, but avoid using anything nice on your table that you wouldn’t want stained or permanently full of caramel. I like using brown kraft paper to not only decorate but protect my table. It looks cute and festive and makes for easy cleanup afterwards. Plus, you can write the names of your toppings on the brown paper.
Decorate with extra apples and anything else you have around the house to add to your table. But the apples and all of the delicious toppings are the real stars and will take up plenty of space.
Whether your caramel apple bar is a reason to have neighborhood friends over or is the dessert at your dinner party, it’s going to be a hit!