DIY-ing close to one hundred and fifty caramel apples as wedding favors for our autumn wedding was one of my favorite projects out of my long list of handmade wedding details.
These favors were really a DIT (do it together) project that I could not have accomplished without help from a big group of friends & family who helped to dip, sprinkle and tag – and who kept me (relatively) calm throughout the process.
The idea came from my brother, and it sounded really great while we all sat in our beach chairs by the ocean on a beautiful summer day in July. As the wedding approached and I began to research how to go about accomplishing such a large order, I ran into a few roadblocks. Through experimentation (which also included taste-testing, duh) I settled on a method which worked nicely and was relatively simple.
My first plan was to create delicious gourmet apples dipped in chocolate and covered in a variety of delectable toppings. I tested my plan, creating these whoppers:
They all tasted amazing, but took three times as long and cost twice as much as my final version. The good news was, me & the hubs got to eat them all. (Tip- when eating a giant apple covered in delicious goodness, slice it into quarters and ENJOY.)
After that experiment, I turned towards Caramel apples and discovered Kraft bags of Caramel Bits. These are by far the BEST way to make caramel apples in bulk – no unwrapping hundreds of little Kraft caramels, and no worrying about a homemade caramel recipe (who has a candy thermometer?)
I found the Caramel Bits at Target around Halloween time, however my two local stores only carried a few bags each. Enter Kathy, my mother’s best friend, who saved the day by visiting 5 or 6 Targets and Walmarts to collect about 20 bags for me! We ended up having some leftover, unopened bags- but I of course wanted to be sure I would have more than enough to make all of our apples.
We melted a bag or two at a time (mixed with the correct proportion of water- directions are on the bag) in a large pot on the stove. After inserting white lollipop sticks into our apples, we dipped the apples in Caramel and placed them on cookie sheets covered in wax paper to cool for a few minutes, then rolled them in bowls of colored sprinkles.
Here are the finished apples, set out to cool on my mother’s dining room table. We kept the heat down low in the house that night, and let them sit overnight to harden before packing them.
I put each apple in a clear plastic treat bag & tied them up with some jute twine (like I used in my invitations). I designed the tag using the same fonts as my invites/programs/etc., and printed them on Kraft paper using my home computer.
– Enlist help. As a bit of a control freak, I usually answered every friend or relative who asked me throughout the planning process if I needed help with an assurance that I had it alllll under control. In the case of the caramel apples, however, I gratefully accepted help that was offered, and am so glad that I did! I could never have done this without the help from my family, friends & my bridesmaids!
– Use small-ish apples. This will help keep your cost down, by using less caramel/sprinkles/etc., and will make it easier to bag your favors. If possible, use fresh apples grown locally – without any waxy or other preservatives that could keep the caramel from sticking. My parents ordered three bushels of Empire apples from an orchard near their home, so they were like a little nod to my hometown. Plus, they were delicious!
– Keep ’em cold. The caramel sticks better when the apples are cold, so we kept our outside (it was late October) until we were ready to use them.
– Accept (and embrace) the imperfections. I did not shell out over ten bucks a pop for perfectly dipped apples like these. As amazing as those professional apples most surely are, I DIYed my favors for more reasons than just saving money. I wanted our guests to take home something that I put time & care into making, which was a theme throughout our wedding. That said, not every apple looked perfect – but I’m sure they all tasted great, and I loved how they looked on the tables tied with my handmade tags!
– Taste test! As if I need to tell you this – but half the fun of DIY-ing an edible favor is getting to enjoy them while you make them! Once enough apples for each of my guests were cooling on the dining room table, my friends & family got to dig in to the leftover apples & caramel. It was a tasty reward for our hard work!
By the way- this project took place on the Thursday night before our Saturday wedding. Homemade caramel apples stay tasty and delicious for about a week (longer if refrigerated), so I knew that making them two days in advance would ensure our guests had fresh, finger-licking treats to take home!
In case you are wondering, I unfortunately did not keep exact track of how much theses favors cost – but a guess based on all of the materials brought me to somewhere in the 2-4 dollar range per apple, which was not bad!
So what do you think? Did (or would you) you DIY your own wedding favors, too? Or do you think it’s more trouble than it’s worth?