“Aftershock,” one of DeBrito’s thirty-plus flavors of
Outrageous Caramel Apples, combines homemade caramel
corn with roasted almonds and peanuts. It’s like two treats
in one: caramel corn with almonds and peanuts, and a
caramel apple. Who could ask for anything more! All DeBrito’s apple photos by Melody Lan.
CAPSULE REPORT: An apple a day would make us deliriously happy if it were an Outrageous Caramel Apple from the DeBrito Chocolate Factory in Hollister, California. We can’t just reach out and grab one each day, though: The factory is nestled in northern California’s fertile farmland—John Steinbeck country, about thirty-three miles northeast of Salinas and forty-five miles northeast of Monterey. There, Arlene DeBrito makes the best jumbo caramel apples we’ve ever had, with the widest selection of yummy toppings. These are not simply big, gourmet caramel-covered apples. You can have a seemingly endless variety: caramel apples fused with chocolate, black forest cake and pumpkin pie flavors, Oreos, Snickers, Butterfinger and almost any variety of nut you might desire. If your fantasy caramel apple isn’t on the list, you can recommend a flavor combination and it may be added to the repertoire. This isn’t kid stuff: Although the kids will definitely go crazy over them, the high quality and sophisticated flavors have total grown-up appeal. Read the full review below. Then, sign up for the Apple Of The Month Club, and revel when the two, three or four apples a month arrive at your door.
You may have had caramel apples from the queen, Mrs. Printable, and others who followed in her path; but you’ve never had any that tasted better than these (and at half the price). DeBrito’s Outrageous Caramel Apples rule because Ms. DeBrito finds the sweetest Extra Fancy Granny Smith apples from Washington State. She makes superb caramel from an old family recipe: caramel that is perfectly creamy, buttery and wonderfully chewy with a subtle sweetness (why can’t everyone make caramel like this?). She uses excellent Guittard chocolate. And all of her other toppings are tops—whether it’s the Guittard chocolate chips, the excellent crunchy nuts or the caramel corn on the “Avalanche” apple, above.
We first discovered DeBrito’s caramel apples when we were looking for special Thanksgiving treats: their “Pumpkin Pie” caramel apple made us swoon. We couldn’t wait to try another flavor, and then another. Fortunately (or not), running out of flavor choices is no problem with DeBrito’s: if you tried two selections a month, it would be more than two years until you had tried them all and had to start at the beginning. And new flavors are in the pipeline...although looking at the delicious menu below, it’s hard for us to see what’s missing. (NIBBLE Reader Challenge: read the menu, then dream up your own fantasy caramel apple topping. Click here and send it with your name, address, phone number and e-mail address. Perhaps your dream apple will become a reality someday.*)
*Any submissions become the property of DeBrito Chocolate Company.
Caramel Apple Flavors
Since each flavor is better than the next, the only solution is to have a caramel apple party. There’s no need to wait until Halloween. Mint Chip? The perfect color for St. Patrick’s Day. Volcano Apple? Commemorate the discovery of the buried cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. Truffle Apple? Celebrate the beginning of summer truffle season. Halfway Heyday? July first is the half point of the year. Celebrate Spring, Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Graduation, or just treat yourself and your friends to something fun and fabulous. You don’t have to worry about taking a chance on a flavor: DeBrito’s guarantees their products. If you don’t like a flavor (although there’s slim chance of that), they’ll replace or refund your order.
Start planning your menu:
- Almond Obsession. Caramel and roasted diced almonds, dripping with chocolate.
- Apple S’Mores. Caramel, graham cracker, marshmallows and a sea of milk chocolate.
- Apple Pie à La Mode. Caramel, white chocolate and cinnamon (their best-seller).
- Black Forest. Caramel, dark fudge and dried chopped cherries; also available without caramel.
- Colossal Cashew. Caramel with roasted and salted cashews peeking through milk chocolate.
- Coconut Mounds. Caramel and coconut drizzled with half butterscotch and half milk chocolate.
- Extreme I. Extra caramel and extra nuts (cashews, pecans and almonds), with strips of milk and white chocolate.
- Extreme II. Extra caramel and extra nuts (cashews, pecans and almonds), with strips of semi-sweet and milk chocolate.
- Earthquake. Caramel, rice krispies, peanut butter and blankets of chocolate (a seismic sensation).
For St. Patrick’s Day we ordered this mint and caramel apple with Guittard chocolate and mint chips. It works: a delicious combination!
Inside the apple: you can see the thick caramel coating that anchors the toppings.
- German Chocolate. Caramel and rich, creamy German chocolate with coconut and pecans.
- Great Goober. Caramel with roasted and salted peanuts, swirled in chocolate.
- Gold Rush. Chopped apricots and almonds over caramel, creating a golden-hued topping, drizzled in chocolate.
- Macadamia Madness. Caramel and macadamia nuts, double-swirled with butterscotch and chocolate.
- M&M Monster. Caramel covered with brightly colored M&Ms.
- Mint Chip. Caramel plus minty green chips and mini chocolate chips. Perfect for St. Patrick’s Day—or any day of the year. Photos above.
- Oreo Avalanche. Caramel, chunks of Oreos and white and dark chocolate caught in the avalanche.
- Pecan Turtle Apple. Caramel with pecans and rivers of chocolate.
- Pumpkin Pie. Perfect for the holidays. Creamy caramel with white chocolate, crumbled graham cracker and coarse sugar sprinkled with pumpkin pie spice. Photo below. (A favorite of THE NIBBLE editors and available September through December only, so plan ahead.)
- Rocky Road. Caramel, pecans and dozens of marshmallows, swimming in a sea of milk and white chocolate.
- Snicker Wrapple. Caramel, Snickers and milk chocolate. Your basic fruit fantasy.
- Truffle Apple. A chocoholic’s delight: caramel with double chocolate layers, in milk or semi-sweet chocolate.
- Volcano Apple. Caramel, Butterfinger and cappuccino chips drizzled in milk or semi-sweet chocolate.
- Waldo Walnut. Caramel with crisp, fresh walnut halves and raining drops of milk chocolate.
Our first DeBrito experience was this Pumpkin Pie apple. We liked it better than real Thanksgiving pumpkin pie (and we love pumpkin pie).
Since we wrote this original article, tempting new flavors have debuted. The creative juices are always at work at DeBrito’s.
The History of The Caramel Apple
First there was the red candy apple: the hard, crackly treat of childhood. The apple is rolled in red-tinted sugar syrup, which has been boiled and hardens as it cools. If it’s a quality preparation, the syrup is flavored with cinnamon, and the apple may be rolled in nuts, coconut, or other confection. Candy apples (called candied apples in earlier times) have been a common treat at Halloween because October coincides with the annual harvest. However, the practice of coating fruit in sugar syrup dates to ancient days: honey and sugar were used as preserving agents.
- Both caramel and toffee date to the early decades of the eighteenth century, and food historians generally agree that caramel apples (also called taffy apples and caramel candy apples in the U.S.; called toffee apples in the U.K. and Canada) probably date to the late nineteenth century, when inexpensive caramels and toffee became available. Recipes for a creamy toffee/caramel coating date to that period. In 1847, the chocolate bar was introduced, which ultimately led to chocolate-dipped fruit, including apples.
- Some sources attribute the invention of caramel apples to Dan Walker, a sales representative for Kraft Foods, in the early 1950s; but the evidence suggests otherwise. Since the recipe was printed on the bags of Kraft caramels, perhaps Walker’s important contribution was showing a generation of women and children the joy of making caramel apples at home—and skyrocketing the sales of Kraft caramels in the process.
- Whether covered in hard red sugar syrup, caramel or chocolate, candy apples are almost always served with a stick in the middle to make them easier to eat. There was a time when a candy apple was highly sought trick-or-treat booty; but the practice of giving candy apples began to wane in the 1960s, beginning with hoaxes and pranks that scared the public into thinking that sociopaths would insert razor blades or needles into the apples. From that point forward, children were urged to accept only sealed, packaged candy. After the 1982 Tylenol murders, in which a Chicago-area sociopath laced Tylenol capsules with cyanide and returned the bottles to store shelves (leading to seven deaths and tamper-proof packaging), a wave of copycat tamperings put a permanent kibosh on young hopes of scoring these extra-special treats on trick-or-treat routes.
- If you’re thinking of making your own caramel apples, McIntosh or Granny Smith apples are the best choices—preferably Granny Smith, the tartness of which is the best counterpoint to sweet caramel. Avoid the temptation to use other varieties, e.g. Fuji or Delicious, no matter what the recipe may say. They are too sweet and don’t provide the contrast required.
Drink Your Caramel Apple
Not convinced that a caramel apple is your thing? Kick back with a Caramel Apple Martini:
- 2 ounces Players Extreme Caramel Infused Vodka
- 1 ounce Sour Apple Schnapps
- ½ ounce Sweet and Sour mix
Combine the ingredients, and shake with ice. Strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a Granny Smith or Macintosh apple slice.
DeBrito’s Outrageous Caramel Apples stay fresh up to two weeks at room temperature or up to two months unopened in the refrigerator. Each apple weighs about 1¼ to 1½ pounds and is tied with a perky fabric bow. While it’s easy to devour an entire DeBrito apple, a small amount can suffice: when it’s cut into eighths, four people can each enjoy two large, crunchy and chewy slices and be satisfied—for the moment. Be sure to have another on hand for later.
Updated October 2007
FORWARD THIS NIBBLE to anyone with a sweet tooth or anyone who would like to send a gift to one. This apple for the teacher would be most appreciated; and it’s a terrific gift idea for Secretary’s Day, Administrative Assistant’s Day or any Hallmark holiday.
DEBRITO’s OUTRAGEOUS CARAMEL APPLES
24 Specialty Toppings, some in choice of Milk or Semi-sweet, plus Plain Jane (caramel only) and Halfway Heyday (caramel plus milk or dark chocolate only)
Minimum Order Two Pieces (Any Flavor)
- Specialty Toppings
$10.00 to $13.00
- Plain Jane or Halfway Heyday
- Apple Pack
Four Apples In A Reusable Cooler
Choice of Three Assortments
- Apple Of The Month Club
2, 3 or 4 Apples For
3, 6, Or 12 Months
$90 to $580
All apples come in a cellophane box with a festive fabric bow, and any apple can be had in an ivory and gold cloth box with seasonal decorations for $14.95—a small up-charge for a nice presentation.
Purchase online at DeBritoChocolate.com
or telephone 1.800.588.3886.
From the Extra Fancy Granny Smith apples to the Guittard
chocolate chips, DeBrito’s uses only the highest-quality
ingredients for its Outrageous Caramel Apples.
Prices and flavor availability are verified at publication but are subject to change. Shipping is additional.
|Click here to read about some of
our other favorite products reviewed
in these sections of THE NIBBLE
Cooking & Baking With Apples
|Apple Pie Perfect, by Ken Haedrich. Celebrate America’s most treasured dessert with 100 different recipes for apple pie. With easy-to-follow tips from the author, you can try your hand at making a number of apple pies, including “Apple Plum Pie with Coconut Streusel.” Click here for more information or to purchase.
|| In Praise of Apples: A Harvest of History, Horticulture & Recipes, by Mark Rosenstein. Embark on a journey through the lives of apple enthusiasts as they preserve and grow apple varieties.
You’ll also find hearty apple recipes, from traditional American dishes to contemporary cuisine. Click here for more information or to purchase.
||Apple Cookbook, by Olwen Woodier. With more than 140 different apple recipes, this cookbook will give you the chance to experience the delicious versatility of apples at every meal for the rest of the year.
Make everything from Tuna Apple Tortilla Wraps
to Applesauce Gingerbread. Click here for more information or to purchase.
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