It doesn't matter how cool you are - you can't pass by the glass display of sweets at Goofy's Candy Company in Disney Springs without doing a double-take. Yes, that IS a caramel apple in the shape of Mickey Mouse. And Minnie and Goofy, right by his side. And that snowman? Your eyes don't deceive you; it's definitely Olaf from Frozen, and you're right - just realizing that does mean you're going to have "Let It Go" stuck in your head for at least 48 hours.
Anyone who's tried to make caramel apples at home knows just what a feat these treats are, beyond looking impressive. All too often, you whip up a batch and the caramel slides right off the apple, or the toppings turn lumpy and drip down the sides. But Deepa Chandra, guest experience manager at the shop, swears these apples are easier to make than you think. The team specifically breaks down every apple so even beginners can master the designs. Here are their top tips for getting each one just right.
1. Shine That Apple Like You're Snow White's Evil Queen.
Often, caramel slips off apples because they have a waxy coating on them, Chandra says. Give them a good scrubbing - and dry them off well - before doing anything.
2. Bulk Up Your Caramel.
While most soft caramel recipes simply tell you to melt them down with a little water, Disney requires a stiffer, thicker sauce. They mix 5-pound blocks of soft caramel with a pound of confectioner's sugar, melting and swirling them together to create a hearty blend that can handle the weight of the toppings.
3. Dip It Low.
No, that isn't just the name of an early 2000's Christina Milian song; it's a helpful reminder to avoid completely submerging the apple in caramel. As the apple chills and the sauce sets, the gases from the apple can leak out around the stick, causing the caramel at the top of the treat to bubble up, like it's burping. Not cute. That's why employees often dip the apple just enough to leave a centimeter or so that's caramel-free surrounding the stick.
Oh, and while you're at it, skip the fridge: Let them cool for 20 to 30 minutes at room temperature, so they don't sweat.
4. 'Mallow Out.
The most ingenious trick to these caramel apples is how they create Mickey and Minnie's ears: They take two jumbo marshmallows, cutting off a lengthwise sliver on each, then press the 'mallows onto the top of a caramel-coated apple (after the caramel has already set). The trimmed part of the marshmallow is sticky enough to adhere to the apples. From there, they're coated in chocolate, and the pillowy secret is concealed - until you take your first bite.
5. Treat The Sprinkles Like Fireworks.
The grand finale to any day at Disney is a fireworks display, and similarly, you should always save the sprinkles - or sanding sugar - as a finishing touch. After it's dipped in milk chocolate, the Mickey apple is dipped halfway in white chocolate, then he needs two yellow Jelly Bellys for his buttons, and red sanding sugar for the pants. Candy makers pop the jelly beans on his pants first, then roll the treat in sanding sugar - if they did it vice versa, the "buttons" wouldn't stay on, pros said.
The same goes for Minnie: Her dress calls for eight white polka dots (AKA candy-coated chocolates), so employees add those to the freshly dipped apple before sprinkling on all of the glittery red sugar.
At that point, it's set aside for 5 to 10 minutes to set, then it's ready for its close-up in the display case. The candy makers at Goofy's Candy Company serve about eight caramel apple designs at any given time, rotating through dozens of designs over the course of the year. Mickey and Minnie are year-round favorites, but around Halloween, people swarm the shop to dig into Maleficent, Sleeping Beauty's nemesis, and others have begged for retired favorites, like an apple shaped like Alexander McQueen from Cars and Sully from Monsters, Inc., to make a comeback.
"We'll get permission to bring back certain apples for a special occasion, like an order for a wedding," Chandra says, citing a recent reception that called for dozens of Maleficent apples as favors.
Though now that you know their secrets, you may want to try your hand at making your own creations - or applying for a job at the central Florida-based shop.
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