If You Want Mess-Free Caramel Apples, Make A Fall-Inspired Dip

Caramel apples, while they combine two fall flavors — these being caramel and apples, of course — are still something we see as a transitional food that kind of bridges the gap between summer and fall. The reason for this is that (unlike pumpkin spice lattes and apple cider donuts) a caramel apple isn't the kind of thing you can eat indoors while getting all cozy-wozy in your snuggly blanky, at least, not if you want to avoid making a ginormous mess. Instead, if you eat your caramel apple on a stick, it's best to do so outdoors. For a more indoor-friendly version of the dessert, though, you can easily convert the apple's caramel coating into a dip. Slice up the fruit, dunk in the caramel, and eat it off of a plate to catch the drips. As a bonus, you won't have a sticky stick and an icky apple core to dispose of once you're done.

While you could make such a dip by simply melting a bag of caramels, you might also want to add some sweetened condensed milk and butter (half a stick should do the trick) to provide extra creaminess. If you're a from-scratch fan, you can also eschew the chewy store-bought caramels and make a homemade caramel sauce from brown sugar, butter, and other ingredients. Since you're using the sauce as a dip for sliced fruit, you won't need to be concerned that it won't be thick enough to adhere to the entire apple.

Switch up your caramel apple dip to suit your preferences

Caramel apple dip, just like the kind of caramel apples that come on sticks, can be embellished with all manner of add-ins (or -ons). Sprinkle it with toffee bits or chopped nuts; scatter mini chocolate chips or chopped-up candy bars across the top; or strew it with coconut flakes or crushed cookie crumbs. Whatever you've seen or imagined on a caramel apple, it's going to be even easier to add to a caramel apple dip since, again, you don't really have to worry about making it stick to the apple slices for too long.

You could even flout fall tradition and — gasp! — pair the dip with something besides apple slices. Other fruits such as strawberries, orange slices, or grapes might also taste good dipped in caramel sauce, while you could also go with pretzel sticks for a trendy sweet-and-salty taste sensation. If you have more of a sweet tooth, you could think of dessert fondue and break out the marshmallows, cake chunks, and Rice Krispies treats. Maybe opt for all of the above and have a caramel dipping smorgasbord. Okay, so maybe it'll still be a little messy, but it sounds like a lot of fall fun.