Caramel Apples

Just when it seemed that the colors simply couldn’t get any brighter, any more breathtakingly stunning, they did. I felt like going out and standing in the yard for hours, turning slowly round and round to take each angle in, to hold the world just like that in my view for as long as I could. It was so beautiful that it was almost painful to see it – a curious mixture of tragedy and joy in realizing that something is as magnificent as it possibly can be, and simultaneously understanding that before you really come around to grasping fully its immensity, it will have already begun to fade.

But such is life. We curiously crave to hold things still, bring them into focus and examine them as they are – pulling the complexity of reality into one striking snapshot in time. But then we miss the dance. Life is always in transition.  Today the rain fell and the breezes blew and already many of the leaves are down. And yet, I am not filled with sorrow as I thought I might. I am filled with wonder that each day the world can look so dramatically different than the day before it. Life dances on and there is the magic.

Yesterday we took a long drive to savor the leaves in their fullest moment of glory. To take them in before they fell. We drove down winding roads and occasionally pulled off just to gaze in wonderment. There were misty clouds moving over the mountains, letting patches of light fall here and there in little islands of luminance. We stopped for a coffee and a croissant at a little French bakery over on the other side of the mountain (a place built in an old laundry mat with high ceilings and big open windows letting light cascade in – good for people watching too) and then slowly meandered our way home down winding back roads. It was a good day, a day I think I will remember.

Somewhere along the way home, I thought of caramel apples. It seemed the perfect conclusion to such a day. I can’t remember the last time I even ate one – but there was something about it that felt so perfectly right. Tart, crisp apples embraced with gooey, sticky caramel – the taste of burnt sugar and salt and sour apple.  It was what the day would taste like, I think, if it had a flavor. A fleeting moment of extravagant sweetness in the ever changing dance of life.


Caramel Apples

Caramel apples are a treat, not meant to disguise themselves as being anything but. I have, however, endeavored to make them using wholesome ingredients – omitting the corn syrup and other such atrocities often found hiding behind their cloying candy-shop sweetness. Instead, I have used honey and molasses to sweeten, and a good organic cream with a hint of vanilla and kiss of Celtic sea salt.

As a side note,  I was hesitant about the honey at first, as I have always gone by the Ayurvedic belief that cooking honey destroys its medicinal benefits. Yet, in the end I can’t imagine that cooked honey could be any worse for my body than refined sugar – and indeed it is a good deal better for the Earth as it comes from my neighbor, rather than thousands of miles away. So honey it is. 


  • 6-8 small apples
  • 1 cup organic cream, preferably from pasture raised cows
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon quality sea salt (Celtic, Fluer de sel, etc)
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon molasses

Place wooden skewers through the stems of each of your apples, and place on a tray lined with wax paper.  Fill a bowl with cold water and place in the freezer in preparation for later.

Place the cream, salt and vanilla in a medium-sized saucepan with a heavy bottom. Heat on medium until the cream begins to bubble along the edges of the pan. At this point, add the honey and molasses and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, and stir constantly with a wooden spoon for 10 or 15 minutes, until the mixture reaches about 255 degrees F on a candy thermometer.  At this point, remove from heat and very very carefully immerse your hot pan into the bowl of cold water that you prepared earlier. Please use caution here as there is nothing that will spoil your day like getting scalded with magma hot sugar. Keep stirring the caramel until it starts to thicken up a little – you want it to be a little thicker rather than runnier when you start dipping. If it gets too thick simply put it back on the heat for a few seconds.

Hold the pan with one hand and tilt it so the caramel pools on one side. Use your other hand to dip the apples, swirling them round to cover as much surface as you can. Place each onto the wax paper lined tray and leave to set for about 15 or 20 minutes. If you wish, you can also roll them in toasted hazelnuts after they’ve set a little.


  1. It’s beautiful at this time of year where I live too, but we don’t have the wonderful array of colours that you have. I envy you! Enjoy them while they last! (Lovely pictures)

    • Danielle Charles says:

      Hi Cathy,
      I do feel very fortunate indeed to live in a place with such a spectacularly beautiful display of seasons – it makes up for all those long grey months of winter 🙂 Thanks for your comment!


  2. Dear Danielle,

    What a nostalgic/happy/dancing with the season sort of post.
    Your words moved me, and the last photograph brought tears to my eyes.
    Mother nature never ceases to amaze me… capture the very essence of her with your writings and images.

    What a wonderful recipe and one that I shall try this halloween for the grandchildren.

    Tku for the most beautiful start to my Saturday 🙂

    • Danielle Charles says:


      Thank you so much for your very kind words! I feel very much the same of your words and images 🙂

  3. I’ll be doing something like this towards the end of this month and I can;t wait! Great photos there by the way.

    • Danielle Charles says:

      Well, I will be looking forward to your post and it will be fun to compare recipes! We’ve devoured the apples already and I’m already dreaming about making more 🙂

  4. Excellent recipe today thanks for sharing. I really enjoyed reading today’s post.

    Check out this healthy recipe – Cheese Topped Vegetables

  5. The past two days we have driven 6 hours each day greatly admiring the glorious colorful trees enrobed in golden leaves reminding me of the wattle back home that always heralded Springtime. The green of the lush green grass and pine foliage a good grounding for the russet, reds and golden trees standing amidst them all. The flashy brilliance heralding the death of Autumn.

    “The corn has ripened and starting to wither on the stalk
    Black crows gather insolently staring at the scarecrow
    Gold, rust and blood red leaves slowly drift to the ground
    All around death and decay claw the living into the earth”………..(c) CBJ

    • Danielle Charles says:

      Such beautiful writing! Your words filled my mind with such loveliness – and your poem is hauntingly beautiful! It strikes in me the perfect note of autumn feeling.

      Glad you too are getting to enjoy the beauty of the season,


  6. Oh my Danielle that middle picture of the trees and the mountain is AMAZING!! I have never seen such an incredible autumn colour palette. I showed it to Mark who immediately announced that we should move there. I suggested an autumn holiday instead! Our trees are much more subtle in their seasonal raiment, more gold and bronzes than vibrant oranges and reds. No wonder you were in such awe, it looks so spectacular in the pictures, I can’t imagine the effect of seeing it in the flesh!
    I’m glad you had such a special day.
    With love xxxx

    • Danielle Charles says:

      It was truly breathtaking this year – I think it may have been one of the most colorful autumn’s I’ve ever seen! I’m laughing about Mark’s remark – I guess the grass is always greener (or in this case the leaves are more colorful) on the other side of the fence 🙂 We actually get a good deal of English tourists here this time of year – in fact the other day at work there were more English people than Americans – it felt very surreal. But I do hope you come and visit sometime – autumn or otherwise – I think you would both quite like it here.


  7. comfreycottages says:

    Thank you for sharing your photos! What a rich, gorgeous tapestry of colors your woods are this year! I too love to collect the prettiest fall leaves I can fine. I still to this day, just have to do the yearly ritual of shaving a bit of crayon on them and ironing them between waxed papers to make little “stained glass” windows:) lol! That bakery looks amazing and your description, aside from the photos, made me feel peaceful… My favorite job I ever had was working in a bakery. Everyone who enters a bakery is in a wonderful mood, so working with the customers there was a delight! Although, at times I did have to laugh to myself, and feel like a bit of a pusher as some round person would enter sheepishly but happily in the door and come to the counter! I too believe in not heating honey, but… I also use honey in cooking where it is heated for the exact reasons you mentioned. It just imparts such a richer flavor that sugar does anyway! I will be trying your caramel apple recipe for my special little tricker treaters! Toasted hazelnuts sounds like the purrfect nut to use with them!!!! big hugs and much love xxxx

    • Danielle Charles says:

      I remember doing that as a child (ironing the leaves between wax paper) – and was actually just reminiscing about it with my husband! We used to make little leaf ornaments to hang around the house. That must have been fun working in a bakery like that – it makes all the difference to work in a place that makes people happy, which I think is why I always gravitate towards kitchens for my work! I hope your little ones enjoy the apples, and you too! Thanks for such a lovely comment 🙂


  8. comfreycottages says:

    Do you remember how you made the little leaf ornaments, Danielle? Always on the hunt for simple craft projects:) Your welcome! I so appreciate your posts and the time you take to craft them and your lovely pictures xxx

    • Danielle Charles says:

      I believe we just punched holes in them with a hole puncher, and tied a little yarn through. Though it’s been awhile so I’m not absolutely certain on that!

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