Caramel apples or taffy apples are created by dipping or rolling apples-on-a-stick in hot caramel, sometimes then rolling them in nuts or other small savories or confections, and allowing them to cool.
Alternately, for the high-volume production of caramel apples, a sheet of caramel can be wrapped around the apple, followed by heating of the apple to melt the caramel evenly onto it. This creates a harder caramel that is easier to transport but more difficult to eat. Caramel apple production at home usually involves melting pre-purchased caramel candies for dipping, or making a homemade caramel from ingredients like brown sugar, butter, and vanilla. Homemade caramel generally results in a softer, creamier coating.
In recent years, it has become increasingly popular to decorate caramel apples for holidays like Halloween. Methods used to do this include applying sugar or salt to softened caramel, dipping cooled, hardened apples in white or milk chocolate, or painting designs onto finished caramel apples with white chocolate colored with food coloring.
Classically, the preferred apples for use in caramel apples are tart, crisp apples such as Granny Smith or Fuji apples. Softer, grainy-textured apples can also be used, but are not preferred.