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Caramel Apples

gluten free caramel apples

I read Heidi’s blog 101cookbooks.com religiously.  I love her photography, use of words and creative food combination utilizing natural ingredients.  So you can imagine how thrilled I was when I saw a beautiful shot of caramel apples on her site the other day.

Prior to reading her recipe I had not given much thought to making this glorious Halloween treat.  The idea of high fructose corn syrup and other weirdly engineered ingredients was somewhat off putting.  And I must confess, the notion of eating pure heavy cream and agave still is, however, I think the boys will be able to handle it (once or twice per year) and will completely relish the novelty of this overly sweet, dairy laden treat.

Now, since I do not own a candy thermometer, nor do I keep lollipop sticks in the house, I decided to make my own easy (read lazy) version of caramel apples.

The boys had my first test batch for dessert, dipping apple slices in home made caramel and loved it.  I stayed up and made another test batch after I put them to bed, indolent, yet unable to let go of Heidi’s caramel apple perfection.  I wanted caramel that set.  And I wanted it the easy way.  Alas, it was to no avail, so I reluctantly settled for this “apples dipped in caramel” recipe.

Caramel Apples


  1. Heat agave in a saucepan until tiny bubbles form around the edges –a very low simmer
  2. Continue heating agave this way for 5 minutes (reduces water content of the agave)
  3. Add heavy cream and salt, then bring mixture to a boil
  4. Reduce heat to an active simmer (Heidi’s words); continue to simmer actively for 7-10 minutes :-)
  5. Remove mixture from heat when the caramel reaches a darker nutty color
  6. Place saucepan in a large bowl of ice water to cool and thicken caramel
  7. Place a large bowl of apple slices on the table
  8. Provide an individual ramekin of caramel to each of your hungry little ghosts and goblins
  9. Wash their hands with a wet rag before they leave the table

I hope you find this shortcut useful and that your little ones enjoy lapping up this luscious treat.

posted on October 28, 2008, 13 comments

  1. Ha, I just posted something VERY similar this weekend since you didn’t have an agave caramel recipe on your blog already!

  2. Tammy

    Thank you! Thank you! This is one of my favorite treats. As long as you’re doing dairy, you can mix the caramel with an equal amount of cream cheese in a food processor and make a more tangy apple dip with some protein to it. I can’t wait to make this.

  3. Ruth

    If anyone has a dairy-free version of this, please direct me to it!!

  4. Anina

    Ruth, I saw an agave caramel recipe in one of my raw cookbooks – Everyday Raw. I’ve never made it, but thought about you and Elana because it is dairy free:
    2 cups agave
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
    Blend ingredients in blender (they use a Vita-Mix) for 20 seconds. Chill in freezer for 2 hours. Remove until softer, about 20 minutes, before serving.

  5. This is my kind of recipes :). I’ve been craving a candy apple with caramel this entire season…I still haven’t satisfied that craving, but I need to give in soon :D!

  6. zebe -Thanks for you comment; I think we’re on the same wavelength.

    Tammy -Ooh! That sounds so good.

    Ruth -You’re in luck; Anina posted a df version below your comment.

    Anina -Thanks!

    Sophie -It’s high time for caramel apples, isn’t it?

  7. Dawn

    Once I saw this recipe, I was really wanting caramel apples. We can’t have dairy so I substituted Coconut Milk in place of the heavy cream. My daughter and I just had some of the caramel apples and she really wants them in her lunch tomorrow. I think it turned out pretty good. My only question is when do you add the salt? I added it when I added the Coconut Milk. Thank you for all the great recipes and ideas — I am always looking forward to your next recipe.

  8. Dawn,

    Thanks for your comment and for pointing out that I did not have an instruction as to when salt was added to this recipe; I have edited it thanks to you.

    The vegan caramel made with coconut milk sounds delicious –what a great idea.


  9. i used this caramel sauce to top some homemade vanilla ice cream, it was better than the store bought stuff! i will need to make more since everyone ate it all on christmas day!

  10. april,

    Thanks for the report.


  11. Lori


    I just made this with unsweetened coconut milk instead of heavy cream and used coconut syrup (made by cooking down 3:1 organic coconut sugar to water) instead of agave. It’s delicious! Thanks so much for the recipe.

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Comments are greatly appreciated! Unfortunately Elana is not able to answer substitution questions, as the only way to know if something works is to test it, and she does not provide this service. If you have a substitution question, please don't hesitate to leave a comment here, and another reader may jump in to answer. ↑ back to top