Simplest Caramel Apples

If you thought you needed a candy thermometer to make caramel apples, or that the perfect coating required a long list of ingredients, we've got good news.

Our favorite recipe couldn't be easier to make: No thermometers. No corn syrup. No stress. Just delicious caramel.

This sauce is good on everything -- as a dip for fruit, drizzled on chocolate cake, or poured over vanilla ice cream. But for Halloween, we have only one thing in mind: caramel apples. Here's how we like to make them, and our top 5 tips for success.

>> RELATED: The Best Applesauce Cake with Caramel Glaze

5 Tips for Foolproof Caramel

1. The best pan for the job: Any deep-sided skillet or saucepan will do the trick. Heavy-bottomed is best for even heating, but just about anything will work.

2. Be prepared: Have your cream and butter on hand -- you don't want to be running around when you've got caramel bubbling on the stove.

3. Hands off: Stir only once or twice as the sugar melts, but mostly leave it alone so it doesn't go dry and crumbly on you.

>>RELATED: Making the perfect caramel -- and how to fix caramel if it misbehaves.

4. A word on color: Generally, darker is better and more flavorful when it comes to caramel. For a perfect caramel, you're looking for a dark reddish-brown, or as David Lebovitz says, the color of an old copper penny.

5. Easy clean-up: The trick to cleaning up sticky caramel? Fill your pan with water, bring it to a boil, and all that sticky residue melts away.

Simplest Caramel Apples

Makes 4 caramel apples

1 cup sugar
6 tablespoons butter (salted or unsalted)
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 apples

1. In a wide, heavy-bottomed pan, melt sugar over medium heat, stirring once or twice in the beginning.
2. When it darkens to your desired color (we like a rich, dark toffee color), stir in in 3/4 stick of butter and a half cup of cream.
3. Skewer each apple with a popsicle stick and roll in warm caramel to coat, dipping twice for extra-thick caramel. Place on parchment-lined tray to cool. Serve once the caramel is firm, or refrigerate for up to 3 days.

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