This recipe for homemade caramel apple dip uses just 4 ingredients and takes 15 minutes. Make a fall family apple tasting tradition with this dip and 3-4 different apple varieties- our family looks forward to this every year!
**Note: This wonderful recipe has been updated to use less sugar, (which is how I make it now) – view the revised recipe here if you’re interested!**
When my daughter was in third grade (I can’t believe how long ago that was…), I was asked to bring apples and caramel dip to their Halloween party. I bought the stuff from the store because I thought you couldn’t make anything for schools (we were new here, I guess it’s not such a big deal in rural schools- there were homemade pies!) but I couldn’t believe how, well, disgusting it was.
Sorry to those of you who like it! But there’s really a weird aftertaste, and of course that long list of ingredients, not many of which I recognized as food.
I thought it would be fun to have caramel dip with all the amazing apple varieties that are becoming easier to find, so I searched for a caramel dip I could make that would taste great. After a couple of tries (too runny, too sticky, even cream cheese?) I found the perfect recipe in one of those booklets/cookbooks put out by a church (or something-I can’t remember now). OK, it was almost perfect- it called for corn syrup and I don’t buy that- but honey worked just as well (or should I say better?).
And you are not going to believe how good it is – and super easy to boot!
How to Make Homemade Caramel Apple Dip
Isn’t that a great picture? Four ingredients, nothing weird.
Note on sweetened condensed milk: Back when I started the cursed “reading of the labels” and found I had to stop buying a lot of things we liked, I was pleasantly surprised to find that sweetened condensed milk is just whole milk and sugar. For me that works. For those of you that are not wanting to buy any convenience foods there is a recipe for making your own sweetened condensed milk here which I’ve done in the past and found it worked well.
Also, did you know that not all brown sugar is created equal?
I’ve read numerous times that all brown sugar is “just white sugar with molasses added,” and while that’s true of the cheap store brands, C&H is pure brown sugar with no molasses added (this is directly from their website– the brown comes from the naturally occurring molasses that forms during the cane sugar refining process, it’s not added after like beet sugars). There was a comparison done in the Oregonian newspaper years ago that showed differences in baking the same products with cane sugar vs. beet sugar, and since then I’ve always bought cane sugar.
The recipe is pretty simple, but can be a bit tricky: start by melting the butter over medium-low heat in a heavy saucepan, then add the brown sugar, honey, and sweetened condensed milk.
Raise heat to medium-high and bring to a boil, stirring constantly (very important- don’t try to do something else at the same time!).
Lower heat to medium and cook 3 minutes, stirring constantly, especially at the edges to keep from sticking.
Note: this takes a few minutes, and every once in awhile I get a few flecks of brown from the bottom when I’m not careful (actually, only when I’m distracted…), but it’s not a burned flavor and still tastes fine.
Remove from heat and let cool a bit before pouring into a serving bowl. You’ll want to serve this warm, it does harden a bit when refrigerated. It keeps for awhile (though not in our house…) in the fridge- you just need to microwave it for a few seconds to soften before using.
Fall Tradition: Apple Tasting with Caramel Dip
One of our family’s favorite traditions that developed at our house after making this recipe is our annual Fall Apple Tasting Night. We’ve had tastings with guests, too, and it’s really fun for a group!
How to have your own Fall Apple Tasting Night:
- Buy four or five different apples (pictured are Pinova, Cameo, Pink Lady, and a “no-name” apple from our neighbor’s tree)
- Cut the apples into slices and put them out on small individual plates
- Write the name of the apple variety on a piece of paper to set on the plate
- Serve with small individual bowls of caramel dip
While this sounds all Martha-Stewart-ish, it doesn’t work without the labels because it is about tasting the different varieties and discussing which everyone likes best.
So don’t be afraid of the labels.
We used to just spoon the caramel onto our plates and dip our apples in it, but then I found these small 1/8-cup bowls (affiliate link example: similar to these) and they work much better. It’s easier to get every last bit.
And trust me, you’re going to want to get every last bit.