Apples coated in caramel, chocolate, nuts, Oreo crumbles, toffee and even gummy bears are taking up serious real estate on the shelves of local chocolate shops this season. One warning: The expression “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” does not apply to these decadent treats.
“The guiltiest pleasure we have is the one with the peanut butter cups on the outside,” Granite State Chocolate Shoppe owner Jeffrey Bart said. “For us, the locally grown apples are important. There’s just something about super-high-quality caramel with all of the delicious premium chocolate that we use and all the toppings. All together the honeycrisp apple offers that nice decadent fall-time treat.”
There are seven different candy apple varieties at Granite State Candy Shoppe. Chocolatiers use honeycrisp apples from Gould Hill Farm in Contoocook. The apples are dipped in caramel and then in milk chocolate before they are rolled in various toppings. Toppings include almonds, Oreo, peanut butter cups, pecans, toffee and a triple-dipped apple with white, dark and milk chocolate.
“If you’re going to keep it for a little while, pop it in the fridge. Take it out I’d say several hours before you want to start biting in,” Bart said. “I would pull the stick [out] and slice it up. They’re usually so large that by the time we get the chocolate and the toppings on them they’re hard to eat, unlike the apples you get at the fair that only have one layer.”
Van Otis Chocolates uses Granny Smith apples and has four varieties available in the Manchester storefront: Almond Butter Crunch, Chocolate Funneled, Pecan Turtle and White Chocolate Cinnamon Sugar.
The options don’t end there. Van Otis Chocolates’ Master Chocolatier J.P. Pisciotta said that customers also request special toppings to make their own custom gourmet candy apples.
“With the exotic flavors people have today, it’s endless,” Pisciotta said. “The idea behind it all is the sweetness of the caramel and the tartness of the apple.”
The Pecan Turtle and Chocolate Funnelled are two of the most popular at Van Otis Chocolates, but Pisciotta said toppings can include nuts, Pop Rocks, crushed up rock candy, jaw breakers and gummy bears. He said flavored caramels are trendy right now — he’s made a chocolate-covered pumpkin spice caramel apple and a savory rosemary caramel apple.
Pisciotta has also made a deconstructed caramel apple by roasting small squares of apple in spices, topped with a chocolate ganache and crispy caramel cookie, made by putting cracked caramel into a food processor and baking in muffin tins.
The candy apples are available at Van Otis Chocolates through Thanksgiving, but Pisciotta said they don’t necessarily have to be a treat for kids. He suggested pairing the gourmet chocolate and caramel apples with dessert or red wines.
Swan Chocolates in Merrimack also uses Granny Smiths as the base for their caramel apples. The apples are dipped in an in-house caramel and Swan Chocolate’s signature Belgian chocolate before toppings are added. Flavors include s’mores apples (made with graham cracker pieces and marshmallows), Almond Joy apples, pecan turtle toffee apples and apple pie apples made with white chocolate, cinnamon and sugar.