I have been asked that question A LOT lately and when I was telling Dave about it one night he (rightly so) called me out for not having an answer. So, at 9:30pm on a school night, clad in pjs and longing for bed, I warmed some Cara-Sel and played around.
I started by stabbing a popsicle stick into one of my favorite (chilled) apples, a Northern Spy from Soons. I warmed my jar of Cara-Sel just a teeny tiny bit, so it was cool & thick, but pourable with coaxing. Since I was only doing one apple, I opted to pour the caramel over the apple, which I held over a large cereal bowl. I popped the bowl in the freezer for a minute and then gave the apple another coat. After another quick rest in the freezer, I placed the coated apple onto a plate covered with a piece of freezer paper. The extra caramel in the bowl got poured back into my jar. The apple went into the fridge for an 18 hour rest (protected with an upside down plastic quart container).
Late the next afternoon I pulled the plate out of the fridge and was happy to see that while some of the caramel pooled at the bottom, the apple was still well coated. I took my prize outside for a photo shoot before sampling.
So, can you make a caramel apple with Cara-Sel? Straight from the jar? Sort of. It coated the apple, but was rather soft and messy to eat. If you want a classic, chewy caramel apple experience, where you can actually wrap the coated apple to hand out as a favor or whatnot, I believe you need to cook the caramel down a bit first to thicken it further.
The takeaway for me is that I prefer my apples sliced and dipped in Cara-Sel. It's less messy and to my taste, it results in a better caramel to apple ratio.
3/23/15 UPDATE: I have been playing around with cooking Cara-Sel until it becomes candy. Specifically, I cook it to the "firm ball" stage so it can be chopped and folded into brownie batter (yes, it is as good as it sounds). I now believe that if you cooked Cara-Sel to somewhere between "firm ball" and "hard ball" you could totally make caramel apples work. That being said, I still think dipped and sliced will be better. :)
BONUS: TESTING AN INSIDE-OUT CARAMEL APPLE
A few weeks ago, my friend, Jill, sent me a Pinterest link for an inside-out caramel apple and I thought this would be the perfect time to give that a whirl, too.
A few things I learned from this:
1. Leave more apple. The amount of caramel per apple was almost obscene.
2. If you really want to do this, serve each person a filled apple half. Cutting the filled apples simply will not end well.
3. I still prefer my apples sliced and dipped.