Read through the entire recipe and tips before beginning this process. Whenever you are working with caramel it is always necessary to use very clean equipment as we want to take precautions to prevent crystallization. Feel free to skip the popsicle sticks and just serve this, slightly warm, as a apple dip. Save any remaining caramel to serve over ice cream or stir into your morning espresso. In fact, feel free to double the recipe just to have leftovers. —Ashley Rodriguez
Fill the bottom of your sink or a large bowl with ice water. This will be used to quickly stop the caramel from cooking once it’s reached the desired temperature.
In a large saucepan (the caramel bubbles up so make sure the pot is much larger than the quantity of the ingredients) heat the cream and salt to a simmer. Once small bubbles appear in the cream add the honey and ground cardamom. Stir to combine.
Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium. Stir occasionally to avoid scorching on the sides or bottoms of the pan. Stay close to the pan as you want to make sure the caramel doesn’t boil over.
Continue to cook until the temperature reaches 260*F, this will take about 20-30 minutes, depending on the size of your pan and the heat of your range. Once the caramel reaches 260*F immediately submerge the bottom of the pan into the bowl of ice water to cease the cooking of the caramel. Stir to cool evenly.
Firmly place the popsicle sticks into your apples and/or pears. Dip the fruit into the cooled caramel using a spatula or spoon to help bring the caramel up the sides of the fruit.
Let excess caramel fall off the fruit then coat the bottom of the dipped fruit in the chopped hazelnuts. Place finished fruit on a parchment lined sheet tray and then into the refrigerator until caramel is firm, about 15 minutes.
*Tips for Success*
- If using pears use ones that are firm to prevent the popsicle stick from sliding out.
- Wait to dip the fruit until the caramel is cool. It will be quite thick and sticky but it helps to prevent the caramel from sliding right off.
- Use fruit that is not waxed.
- Chill the fruit before dipping. This sets the caramel immediately. You could also dip then refrigerate.
- Let the excess caramel drip off for at least one minute before dipping into the nuts.
- Because this is a honey based caramel there will be some dripping and sliding off of the caramel. I forgive the caramel for doing this because it has such an incredible flavor but if this will be an issue for you you may want to stick to a recipe that uses granulated sugar.
- Using a candy thermometer is important in this recipe as you will want to reach the proper temperature to ensure the caramel will set firm, but not too firm, when cool. If you don’t have a thermometer boil the caramel for at least 20 minutes then watch for these visual clues: The finished caramel will be deep golden in color, the bubbles will be small and covering the entire surface of the caramel and the viscosity will be much thicker than when you started, resembling caramel sauce. You can also test the caramels density by placing a small amount in a bowl of ice water. The cooled caramel should feel like caramel candy - slightly firm with a good bit of chew.