How to make caramel apples

Mmmm, caramel apples. Is there anyone in the world who doesn't like this scrumptious treat? I have a memory from my childhood involving me stuffing as many caramel apples into my mouth as my mother would allow, while my fingers accumulated layers and layers of stickiness and while caramel dripped down to my toes.

There is something unique about the caramel apple that is hard to replicate in any other food. I think it is the tart-sweet combination, mixed with the element of fun that goes into eating it. Or devouring it, as I have been known to do. Like, just last night.

The first step in making the perfect caramel apple is finding the perfect apple. Pick one that is more tart than sweet and that is on the firm side. A tart apple will give the super sweet caramel a great contrast and this contrast is what will make your mouth water.

Some good tart apple choices:

Cortland, Haralson, Empire, Granny Smith, Jonathan, Braeburn, Ginger Gold, York Imperial, Gravenstein, Honeycrisp, Lady, Jonamac, Wealthy

Have a nearby three-year-old do some taste-testing for you.

Until he finds the perfect one.

Elijah decided on Haralsons because of their tartness and because they were on branches low enough to reach.

Apples are almost as fun to photograph as lemons.

Pick and wash the five or six biggest, plumpest, best looking apples of the bunch. Gently stab popsicle sticks into the stems.

Place the impaled apples next to your stove, as you will want quick access to them once the caramel is ready. Place a sheet of wax paper on top of a cutting board and give it a light coating of cooking spray.

Place in a medium saucepan:

One 14-oz. bag caramels, unwrapped OR one 14-oz. bag caramel bits, which does not involve wrappers and is intended for cooking

2 Tbsp. milk

1 Tbsp. water

Cook over low heat and stir constantly.

Keep stirring until the caramel is free of lumps and is nice and silky smooth. This takes approximately five minutes.

Turn off the burner and immediately start dipping the apples into the pan, twirling them and coating them with the caramel.

Once coated, allow the excess caramel to drip from the apple and back into the pan for a few seconds and then set it on the sprayed wax paper.

Once all apples have been doused with the deliciousness of caramel and placed onto the wax paper, place the entire cutting board in the refrigerator for a minimum of one hour.

After being chilled, the "puddle" of caramel at the base of each apple can be gently cut away with a knife.

If you are feeling generous, share the apples with your family. Or eat them all yourself. At any rate, enjoy!