Learn to celebrate the simple things in life with this sweet little snack. Apples are available all year round with countless choices to appease your appetite. From delightful Granny Smith to delicious Fuji, you’ll have so much fun being creative with your caramel-dipped concoctions.
Once your apples are prepared and your caramel is creamy, the rest is a cinch. My suggestion is to get your apples and tasty toppings assembled ahead of time. Then, all you have to do is dunk and dip!Print
These vegan caramel apples are the perfect “make at home” treat!
For the caramel sauce;
- 1 pound of pitted Medjool dates
- 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup of coconut milk
- A pinch of sea salt
For the apples:
- 10 apples (for this recipe, I used medium-sized Granny Smith apples you can use Gala).
- 10 (6″) lollipop sticks
- Toppings of choice
- For the sauce: Remove pits from dates. If dates are dry, rehydrate them in water for ~1 hour.
- Add dates, vanilla extract, and coconut milk to a food processor.
- Process until the mixture is smooth (approx. 5 minutes). The consistency should similar to creamy peanut butter. It should stick to a spoon and spread easily. If the mixture is too dry, add additional coconut milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, until the desired consistency is achieved.
- For the apples: Clean the apples and remove any stickers or labels.
- Remove the stems by using a paring knife to make a small cut at the base of the stem. Make sure your fingers are safe and out of the way! Give the stem a twist, and it should pull right out.
- Insert lollipop sticks where the stem was removed. Push the stick into the apple until it is almost all the way through.
- One at a time, use a spoon to cover the apple with the prepared caramel sauce.
- Press the topping onto the apple until it is covered.
- Place apple on a solid surface, and repeat until all apples are complete.
- This recipe will make enough to cover ~10 medium-sized apples. The coconut milk can be substituted with any non-dairy milk. To give your caramel a festive flavor, try adding 1/8 tsp of pumpkin spice. For salted caramel, add additional sea salt to your liking.
- I chose to use chocolate chips, coconut chips, and chopped peanuts to cover my apples. There are endless options including sliced almonds, crushed cookies, granola, vegan marshmallows… use your imagination!
Ancestry of Caramel Apples
Did you know that the traditional ruby red candy apple was invented in 1908 by the candy maker, William W. Kolb of Newark, New Jersey? He sold them at Christmas time with their signature sweet cinnamon mixture for only 5 cents apiece. They were so popular on their own that the appearance of the chewy, creamy caramel apple didn’t occur until the 1950s.
Having an excess of caramel candy from Halloween sales at the Kraft factory, Dan Walker (an employee at Kraft) decided to use the extras to cover apples. Surprisingly, it was a huge success and the caramel sheets were soon created. After around 10 years of making caramel apples by hand, Vito Riamondi of Chicago, Illinois created and invented an automated caramel apple machine in the 1960s.
These uniquely attired apples paved the way for other delightful dips such as taffy, chocolate and even jelly (which is softer, sweeter, and cherry flavored)! Which topping would you be tempted by the most?
Sticks or Slices
Another interesting option is to substitute the whole-apple-on-a-stick variety for slices. Instead of using popsicle sticks, for ease of eating, cut the apple into circular or wedge-shaped slices. You’ll get sweet satisfaction in seconds!
Once you slice your apple in the shape you desire, hold one end and dip the bottom half into the creamy caramel. Tap on some tasty toppings and arrange each gently onto parchment paper.
You could also cut your apple into “fries” and cover with caramel as mentioned above. Add a little bit of natural red food coloring to a portion of the caramel and you’ve got yourself “fries and ketchup!” Place in a small wax paper bag and the kids will go wild.
You’ll need to use full-fat canned coconut milk for this recipe, not the kind in the carton. The canned version will give your caramel mixture an extra thickness and richness that is perfect for this decadent treat.Any leftover, luscious milk can be saved and refrigerated.
Sometimes Spice is Really Nice
Caramel tastes simply delicious on its own, but adding some spice can make it sensational! Try these scented suggestions:
- Cinnamon – especially sweet Vietnamese
- Pumpkin Pie – a slightly savory spice
- Chai – a cozy, spicy choice
- Sea Salt – larger flakes are fantastic for flavor
- Maple – adds a little magic to the mix
Endless possibilities, but here are several sassy suggestions:
- Never Enough Nuts – Caramel apples feel naked without nuts. The P’s are the perfect choice—pistachio, pecans and peanuts—but any chopped nuts will be nice.
- Choose Those Chips – Semi-sweet chocolate, bold butterscotch, or sweetened coconut? Luckily, you can cover with all three if you wish!
- Marshmallow Maniac – Take advantage of your mania for mini marshmallows and add them to your apple. The brand Dandies makes perfect vegan mini-marshmallows. Bonus points for using a mini blow torch and toasting them first!
- Dare to be Dried – Don’t forget the delight of dried fruit! Plump raisins, sweet & tart cranberries, and ambrosial apricots are classic and chewy. Chopped is the best choice.
- Cookie Wookie – Cookie crumbles make delightful toppings. Add your favorite vegan cookies to a bag and crush with a rolling pin or pulse in a food processor. If you’re craving cookie dough, add a bit of that, too!
- Spring for Sprinkles – I’m a sucker for rainbow sprinkles, but chocolate jimmies are yummy, too! Surround the surface with a sprinkle sensation! You can find vegan sprinkles from brands like Fancy Sprinkles.
- Munch & Crunch – If you love some crunch to balance out the smooth, consider adding crispy brown rice cereal, homemade granola or even a little bit of crushed pretzels. Hazelnut Heaven – Let’s face it, everything tastes better with a chocolate hazelnut spread! Melt a little in the microwave and use a spoon to saucily spill over your apple slices.
While vegan caramel apples are best eaten the day you make them, you can always refrigerate any leftovers for a day or two. After that, the caramel might begin to fall apart a little and the apple may become mushy. Keep your festive apples fresh by following these simple steps.
The best way to store your extras is to wrap each apple separately in a piece of wax or parchment paper. Rip off a piece of paper (around 12” square) and place the apple in the center. Lift the 4 points of each side toward the stick so that the apple itself is completely covered. Secure around the stick with a twist tie, tape, piece of string or ribbon. If you have extra wedges or slices, simply place parallel into a paper-lined container and store in the fridge.
In a pinch, you could use any overripe apples for an impromptu vegan caramel apple crumble. Add the leftovers to a small casserole dish, top with a ½ – 1 cup of homemade granola, a tablespoon of vegan butter, and a dash of cinnamon (or even cinnamon sugar!). Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees F until golden and bubbly.
More Awesome Apple Desserts?
We want to thank our amazing recipe testers, J.J Steele and Anne Sparks!
Homemade Vegan Caramel Apples recipe by Julie Massa. Photos by Zhoro Apostolov for World of Vegan. Recipe and photographs copyright of World of Vegan™, all rights reserved.