I use to make a lot of candy when I was 18-20: caramels, divinity, penuche, chocolate covered gummy bears... Something about the candy making process really appeals to me. Plus I love candy. Put a cupcake, brownie, and caramel in front of me and I will eat the caramel first, no hesitation.
I don't use a candy thermometer, instead I use the cold water test. This handy chart is in my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook I have had since 1999. I like this method because I like the hands on approach, and I feel it gives you more of an idea of what the candy should look and act like when it is near the appropriate stage. Make a connection with your sugary confections, yo. Or something.
Here is the recipe I used:
1/2 cup Sugar
1/2 cup light or dark Brown Sugar
3/4 cup dark Corn Syrup (I used a mix of both dark and light: I didn't have enough dark)
1 ts Vanilla
4 tb unsalted Butter
1 cup Whipping Cream
Before making caramel: scoop out apple spheres. I was able to get about 10-11 per apple. Insert sticks and put aside.
Mix sugars, corn syrup, butter, vanilla, and 1/2 cup cream. Boil mixture over medium high heat. Stir with a wooden spoon. Once its at a rolling boil, slowly add the rest of the cream (1/2 cup). Continue to stir until it reaches soft-ball stage. This will take about 10-15 minutes. Pour caramel into a heat proof vessel and let cool for about five minutes.
Dip your apple pieces. I only had 18 lollipop sticks so that is all I made. This makes enough caramel for at least twice that.
I had a lot of caramel left over so I saved that to eat later :) I think I would add a little bit of salt to the caramel next time or use salted butter.