Answer: A caramel apple that has had it's core removed, then had the hole filled with a sweet peanut butter filling, then is coated in chocolate, white chocolate, and butterscotch drizzles, then sprinkled with peanuts and crushed candy bars. Duh, silly!
I started making these gourmet apples a few years ago to get rid of the major flaw of caramel apples everywhere--the inedible core. (Inedible unless you're a horse.) The core kind of interrupts the whole caramel apple flow for me, so I removed it, then stuffed the hole with a sweet peanut butter filling. *pats self on back, then high fives self*
Read my notes carefully before attempting this recipe. It's not hard, but there are some tricks.
And remember....friends don't make friends eat around the core.
Here are my notes:
-I used one bag of caramel bits with 2 tablespoons of water. You could also use the caramels that have to be unwrapped, but the bits are SO much easier. I used 2 medium green apples and two medium red apples, and there was just enough caramel to cover those. (And I mean NO extra.) It's going to depend on the size of your apples how much caramel you will need. You may want to buy 2 bags to be on the safe side.
-I used an apple corer to remove the cores. May be worth investing in if you don't already have one.
-I used a spoon to push the peanut butter filling into the apple holes, but a piping bag may have been easier. You can see from the picture above that the filling is being pushed through to the other side, although it's not quite there yet.
-The dowels I used worked really well. They had a tapered end, but were not super pointy or sharp. I'm sure you could use the popsicle sticks that come with the caramel. I just like the look of a really long dowel or stick in my caramel apples, plus they're easier to hold.
-Wipe off any water, juice, or excess peanut butter from your apples so the caramel will stick well.
-Do NOT forget to spray the wax paper with cooking spray! We're talking caramel here. Sticky, sticky, sticky.
-I used semisweet chocolate ships, white melting disks, and butterscotch ships for my drizzle because that's what I had on hand. The chocolate chips and white disks melted perfectly. I added about a tablespoon of cream to thin out the butterscotch chips and make it drizzleable. (Is drizzleable a word?) I used approximately 1/2 cup of each, but I didn't really measure. Melt them in a microwaveable bowl, in 30 second intervals, stirring several times between heatings. Shouldn't take over about 90 seconds. Stir until smooth. I put mine in little quart sizefreezer bags used as piping bags.
-I had enough peanut butter filling left to fill one more apple, but not enough caramel cover another apple. Was this a problem for me? Uh, no. I just ate the rest with a spoon.
-I let the caramel covered apples set up in the refrigerator for about an hour before drizzling, then I let put them back in the fridge again to let the chocolate harden. Let them come to room temperature before eating! The caramel gets really hard in the fridge. It really needs to soften to room temperature.
-I used what I had on hand to do my sprinkling which were peanuts and crushed Butterfinger candy bars, but how cute would some colorful M & M's be? The options are endless.
-Obviously the dowel will not be secure if it is poked just through the peanut butter filling, so turn the apple on it's side and poke it in that way, through the hole and into the other side, but not exiting out of the apple.
-These would make great gifts. Place them in a clear gift bag, then tie with some ribbon or raffia.
-The green apples were definitely more perfectly round in shape, and when covered with the caramel you couldn't tell that they were on their side like the red ones which looked a little bit wonky. I just prefer the taste of the red apples. Use whatever you want.
-And if one of your apples doesn't stand straight like the other ones, is this cause for alarm? I think not. There are worse things in the world.
Like having to eat around an apple core. :)
Peanut Butter-Stuffed Gourmet Caramel Apples
1/2 cup peanut butter
3 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 cup finely crushed graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup powdered sugar
4 medium apples, washed and thoroughly dried
Non-stick cooking spray
1 (11-ounce) bag caramel bits
2 tablespoons water
4 wooden dowel rods, about 12 inches long, 1/4-inch diameter, found in the craft section
1/2 cup chocolate chips or bark or melting disks
1/2 cup white chocolate chips or bark or melting disks
1/2 cup butterscotch chips or bark or melting disks
Chopped peanuts for sprinkling
Chopped Butterfinger candy bars for sprinkling
- In a small mixing bowl, combine the peanut butter, butter, graham cracker crumbs, and powdered sugar until smooth. Set aside.
- Core each apple with an apple corer. Divide the peanut butter mixture evenly between the apples, filling or stuffing each hole using a spoon. (use the spoon to push the mixture into the hole.) Level off excess peanut butter mixture at ends. Turn each apple on its side. Insert a skewer into the middle of the side of each of the apples, through the peanut butter filled hole, and about halfway through the next side. Set aside.
- Line a baking sheet with waxed paper and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Heat the caramel bits and water in a medium heavy saucepan over low heat until melted and smooth, stirring often. Dip apples into melted caramel one at a time, spooning caramel over apples to coat. Let excess drip off and place apples on wax-paper, skewer straight up (apples may not stand up perfectly straight, but that’s okay). Refrigerate for about 1 hour, or until caramel sets.
- Place each of the three kinds of chips in a small microwave-safe bowl and heat one at a time on high heat for 60-90 seconds, stirring every 30 seconds, until chips are melted and smooth. Fill 3 zip lock sandwich bags with each of the melted chips, pressing to one corner like a pastry bag. Cut a very small hole (no more than an 1/8 of inch) in the corner of each bag. Pipe stripes up and down the apple by squeezing the mixture gently through the hole while turning the apple with the skewer. Sprinkle apples with the chopped peanuts and/or Butterfingers. Refrigerate for 10 minutes or until chocolate hardens. Bring to room temperature before eating.