Fall is time for hot and sweet apple cider drinks and our specialty caramel apples. We dip thousands of caramel apples every week during October.
Apples have been a popular fruit in North America for hundreds of years. The only apples that are native to North America are crab apples. Crab apples are much smaller than regular apples and are usually extremely sour. European immigrants introduced the tree we know today; Apples were first grown in America in 1625.
Before there were caramel apples, there were candy apples. William W. Kolb invented red candy apples in New Jersey. He experimented with red cinnamon candy for Christmas. He started dipping apples in the mixture and made the first candy apples in 1908.
Caramel apples were also invented by a candy maker experimenting with holiday candy. In 1950, Kraft Foods had extra caramels left over from Halloween. An employee, Dan Walker, had an idea for the caramels. He melted the caramels and started dipping apples in them. They were very popular! For the next ten+ years, all caramel apples were hand-dipped. In 1960, Vito Raimondi invented the first automated caramel apple machine in Chicago.
We like to do things the old-fashioned way at Winans, which often means by hand. We use our original caramel recipe, handed down from Max and Dick to Joe and Laurie. Our Ohio-grown apples are locally sourced by Fulton Farms in Troy. We put wooden sticks in our apples by hand before hand-dipping them in caramel. The caramel is extremely hot when we dip the apples!
We make five different types of caramel apples. We have a classic caramel apple. We also make a caramel apple which is rolled in pecans. Our deluxe caramel apple is dipped in caramel, then milk chocolate, rolled in pecans and drizzled with white chocolate. We make a sea salt caramel apple which is dipped in caramel, then milk chocolate and sprinkled with sea salt. Our most unique apple is our Buckeye apple. This apple is dipped in our peanut butter delight center before being dipped in milk chocolate. It’s like a giant buckeye candy with the tart crunch of an apple.
Mmmm… sweet and salty. A classic, yet unlikely flavor combination. At first glance, the union of sweet and salty sounds strange, doesn’t it? It doesn’t sound like it would taste good, but it does and we love it!
The savory flavor of salt enhances the sweetness of some of our favorite treats, just try sprinkling a little salt on your watermelon this summer, you’ll definitely notice a difference!
These are some fairly common examples of sweet and salty flavor combinations:
Fruit and cheese plates
Chocolate covered pretzels (or wetzels as they’re known at Winans)
Trail mix with nuts and chocolate or dried fruit
French fries dipped in a Wendy’s frosty (it’s an Ohio thing!)
Peanuts and Dr. Pepper (it’s a southern thing!)
Peanut butter and banana sandwiches…
You get the idea right? We could go on but we’re starting to get hungry!
The combination of salt with sweet, buttery caramel is one of our favorite new flavor pairings! This tasty union has seen a surge in popularity in the past 10 years. Salted caramels are a traditional treat hailing from Brittany, France. In the late 1990s and early 2000, American chefs became interested in the flavor combo after French pastry chef Pierre Hermé invented a salted caramel macaron.
This isn’t to say that salted caramel as a flavor was completely unfamiliar to Americans. Just think of chocolate turtles (like Winans’ wurtles), pralines and Cracker Jack, which was created in 1893.
We’ve been making caramels for over 50 years at Winans. We still use Max Winans’ original recipe for buttery rich and chewy caramels. For our sea salt caramels, which we debuted 5 years ago, we use fine sea salt instead of the regular salt in the caramel recipe. After the caramel is cooked in our copper kettles, we pour it onto steel tables to cool. Once fully cooled, we cut the caramels into bite-sized rectangles and cover them in milk or dark chocolate. While the chocolate is still warm and melted, we hand sprinkle a touch of Mediterranean sea salt on each one. Just a touch of salt to bring out a little extra sweetness.
Once the caramels run through a cooling tunnel they’re ready to be packaged into gift boxes or sent in stock boxes for filling the candy cases in our stores.
You could enjoy your sea salt caramel on its own, but if you’re also going to get coffee during your next trip to Winans, why not pair your brew with your sweet and salty treat? We recommend pairing a sea salt caramel with our single origin Indonesian Sumatra or Monsoon Malabar coffee or our Mo Joe Blend or Mokka Java Blend. These coffees have earthy notes that pair well with the sweet, buttery flavors of caramel. You also can’t go wrong with a salted caramel latte or our Salted Caramel flavored coffee!