Yield: 4 panda caramel apples
- 4 ripe apples
- 4 wooden skewers, popsicle sticks, or lollipop sticks
- 14 ounces (1 bag) soft caramel candy
- 2 tbsp water
- 2 cups white chocolate candy coating
- 8 chocolate sandwich cookies, smaller size if available
- 12 chocolate discs or chocolate nonpareils
- 1 tbsp chocolate chips
1. Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with aluminum foil or waxed paper, then spray the foil or paper with a light coating of nonstick cooking spray.
2. Wash and dry the apples carefully. Remove the stems, and stick the skewers or sticks firmly in the stem ends.
3. Place the unwrapped caramels and the water in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 1 minute, then stir, then microwave for an additional minute or until completely melted. The caramel should be smooth and liquid by the end.
4. Hold an apple by the skewer and dip it in the caramel, tilting the bowl at an angle and rotating the apple to cover it completely with a smooth, even layer. Bring it out of the caramel and twirl it upside down to remove the excess caramel, then set it on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining apples.
5. Place the caramel-covered apples in the refrigerator to set for at least 30 minutes.
6. While the caramel is setting, prepare the rest of the ingredients. Take your chocolate sandwich cookies and cut a straight line across about 1/4-inch from the edge of the cookie—you are creating a flat edge for the cookie to be pressed up against the apple to form the panda's "ears."
7. Cut four of the chocolate discs or nonpareils in half. One half of each disc will be the panda's nose. Cut the remaining halves in half again—this smaller portion will be the panda's mouth. You will have a few bits left over, these can be eaten or discarded.
8. Place the white chocolate candy coating in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave until melted, stirring every 30 seconds, until it is melted and smooth.
9. Dip a caramel-covered apple in the white chocolate coating. It is easiest if you dip it halfway and then use a large spoon to spoon coating over the top, to ensure the apple is completely covered with white chocolate. Hold the apple over the bowl and let excess coating drop back into the bowl, and gently twirl the apple or tap the stick against the lip of the bowl to encourage excess coating to drop off.
10. Set the apple back on the baking sheet, and working quickly, press and hold two cookies against the sides to form the panda's ears. When they are set, press two chocolate discs into the front for the eyes, and then add the nose and mouth. If the coating is set before you finish the face, you can always dab a little melted white chocolate on the back of the eyes and mouth and use that to stick it on. Repeat until all of your apples are covered and decorated.
11. Use some of the leftover white chocolate coating to form large white dots in the center of the panda's eyes. Melt the tablespoon of chocolate chips, and use a toothpick to apply the chocolate in the center of the white dots to be the pupils.
12. Refrigerate the apples until everything is completely set, about 20 minutes. If you will not be serving the apples immediately, carefully wrap them individually in plastic wrap and store them in the refrigerator for up to a week.