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Caramel apple dipping sauce is a tasty way to enhance a healthy snack. Typical ingredients in caramel apple dipping sauce include sugar, corn syrup, and butter, with salt and cream for added flavor and texture. Ideally, you want a sauce that is just thick enough to coat the apple in rich, glossy caramel. To achieve this, the best tips are to use the right pan and follow the recipe correctly.
You should use a pan that is thick and heavy. The caramel can burn quickly, and a thicker pan helps to distribute the heat from the burner evenly. Caramel also reaches a very high temperature, so avoid using either a nonstick or a tin-lined pan as these can be damaged by the mixture itself. Use a pan that has a light-colored inside because this allows you to more easily judge the progress of the melting sugar. The pan you use should also hold approximately double the amount of caramel apple dipping sauce than you intend to make as the mixture can bubble up quite significantly when you add the cream, which in smaller pots, can result in the caramel pouring over the sides.
Before you begin, get all of your ingredients ready in premeasured portions. The timing when cooking caramel apple dipping sauce can be a bit tricky, so being organized will help the process to go more smoothly. Make sure that you have heat-resistant gloves or mitts available as the liquid and the pan get very hot. Ensure that your pan and utensils are clean because any debris will not only be unsightly but can also burn faster than the caramel cooks, ruining your sauce.
Once you have combined the sugar, corn syrup, and butter and brought the mixture to a boil, do not stir it. Stirring can cause the sugar to clump together, resulting in a lumpy caramel apple dipping sauce. Either leave the mixture to boil, or occasionally gently swirl the pan in a circular motion. If sugar crystals stick to the sides of the pan above your mixture, the best way to remove them is with a dampened pastry brush.
When the mixture is boiling, you must watch it carefully because it can go from perfect to burned in a few seconds. The best way to do this is to use a candy thermometer and follow the temperature guide given in the recipe. If you do burn the caramel apple dipping sauce, throw it out. You can add some water to the mixture to help increase the cooking time if you find that the sauce burns before all the sugar has melted. Make sure that the water fully evaporates if you do this.
Once the caramel apple dipping sauce has achieved the correct temperature, remove it from the heat before adding the cream. Pour the cream into the pan through a sieve or by a small amount at a time to help reduce splashing and bubbling over. Make sure that you gently whisk the sauce until it is smooth. Once the finished sauce is in a container, fill the pan with water, and bring it to a boil — this will make cleaning much easier. Likewise, soak the utensils in hot water before cleaning.
@Grivusangel -- And use the *good* vanilla! Spend the money for the good stuff or make your own with vodka and a vanilla bean. Don't fool around with that "white" vanilla flavoring or imitation vanilla. It will give the product a strange, metallic flavor every time.
Also, use a saucepan that you know heats evenly. Most cooks know which of their pans tend to have hot spots, and you don't want those for caramel -- or any kind of candy making. They will mess you up! They will really ruin a batch of candy in a hurry.
Any time you're dealing with caramel, the watchwords are easy does it and keep your eye on the sauce! Don't heat it too quickly and don't leave it! That's a sure way to have a pan full of burned caramel cement.
Salted caramel is so popular these days, that after you take the caramel off the heat, you can add a little kosher salt to it, or get some fairly large salt crystals to sprinkle lightly over the apples once they're dipped. You also want to add a little vanilla to the mixture to even it out a little. Just add a teaspoon of vanilla flavoring to the cream and whisk it to blend. Nearly every sweet needs a little vanilla.
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