toppings, such as chopped walnuts, peanuts, or flaked sea salt, if desired
Wash and de-stem apples and dry thoroughly. Insert a wooden skewer or popsicle stick into the center of each apple, where the stems were, pushing down until firmly secured. Refrigerate apples until well-chilled, at least 30 minutes.
Line a baking sheet or tray with wax paper. Dip chilled apples into the caramel, rolling to coat up the sides. Let excess caramel drip back into the pot. If you don't want a "foot" on your caramel apples, use a rubber spatula to gently scrape any excess caramel from the bottom.
If the caramel starts to get too thick to smoothly dip the apples, gently rewarm it on the stove. As you get toward the end of your caramel supply, use a spoon to pour the caramel over the apples.
If desired, roll the dipped apples in chopped nuts or lightly sprinkle with flaked sea salt and transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Chill apples until caramel is firm before enjoying, about 15 minutes.
You can use just about any homemade caramel recipe to dip apples, so if apple cider caramel isn't your favorite, use any that is! Be sure to cook it to "firm ball stage," 245-250 degrees F, for best results.