When I was young, we would have these neighborhood parties -- potluck dinners -- where everyone would gather and enjoy some good food, all the soda I could drink (and then some), and often, a vintage 16-mm movie, checked out from the local library, projected on a white bed sheet.
I have many happy memories of these parties, including the night we made our own caramel apples!
Nowadays, neighborhood parties may seem like a thing of the past, but I've learned that one way to serve lots of people, quickly and easily, is by allowing them to assemble their own meals and desserts in a food bar! It's so much easier to prepare, and everyone seems to enjoy making their own -- however they like!
So, here's a great way to create a fun memory for your autumn party guests: by offering them a treat, and a party activity, in one -- a caramel apple bar!
Place unwrapped caramels and water in your slow cooker crockpot. Cover and warm on high, stirring frequently, for 1 to 1 1/2 hours on high.
Meanwhile, wash and dry assorted apples -- big, little, green, and red.
Remove the apple stems and carefully insert a stick into each apple's stem end.
If you like, you can also slice a few apples, and spear with cocktail forks for those who'd like a smaller bite (apply a little lemon juice to prevent browning).
When caramels are entirely melted, reduce the crockpot to "warm."
On your dessert table, arrange your apples, crockpot of caramel, and toppings -- which can be as gourmet, folksy, or kid-friendly as you like -- into a series of bowls or trays. Keep a long, serving spoon, fork, or knife in the caramel to give it a stir once in a while, and to make sure no apples "get away!"
Help your younger guests dip their apples into the hot caramel, turning their apples until they're coated.
Raising the apples above the pot, scrape off any excess caramel (if there is such a thing!) from the bottom of the apple with your serving spoon.
Offer your guests small plates to hold under their apples while they cool.
Once the caramel has cooled enough to not drip, let them dip-and-roll their apples in any/all the toppings.
You may want to include small spoons to sprinkle over those hard-to-reach spots.
Make a few beforehand to show your guests what they can do, and to decorate your dessert table with some delicious treats! Enjoy!
Photo credit: Monica.
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