caramel corn image by Jessica Nigro from Fotolia.com

Nothing beats the sweet, creamy taste of chewy caramel, especially on caramel apples. But when time is tight and you need your ingredients ASAP, you might wonder if melting caramel squares in the microwave is the best and easiest way to go.

When done right, melting caramel in the microwave oven is quick and easy. But if you miss one step, especially the step that cues you to use a large microwave-safe bowl, you could end up with a hot, sticky mess.

How to Melt Caramel

When it comes to melting caramel, choosing the method that matches your needs is key. The good news is you have at least three tried-and-true ways to get the job done.

  • Use a double boiler
  • Melt caramel in a saucepan on the stove
  • Microwave magic method 

While the first two methods result in a perfectly smooth and creamy caramel sauce, they both take time — which is something you may lack. That’s why melting caramel in the microwave makes the list.

  • Locate a medium- to large-sized microwave-safe bowl. The more caramels you have, the larger the bowl needs to be. Spray the bottom of the bowl with cooking spray.
  • Unwrap all the caramels and put them in the bowl. If you're using Kraft caramel bits, simply open the bag, measure the amount you need and pour them in. 
  • Microwave on high for 1 minute.
  • Take the bowl out of the microwave and stir the caramels with a silicone spatula. Make sure to wear oven mitts when removing the bowl from the microwave.
  • Put the bowl back in the microwave and heat on medium heat, or 50% power, for 1 minute
  • Take the bowl out of the microwave and stir the caramels. If any lumps remain, put the bowl back in the microwave and heat on 50% power until the candy is thoroughly melted. Check every 10 to 15 seconds to avoid scorching. 

How to Make Caramel Apples

Let’s face it: You can’t talk about caramel without mentioning caramel apples. And just because you’re not 10 years old doesn’t mean you can’t get excited about biting into this timeless treat. There are several twists on the traditional caramel apple recipe, but to keep things simple, give this one a try.

First, determine the number of apples you want to prepare. This recipe is based on five apples.

Total Time: 60 minutes: / Prep Time: 10 minutes / Serves: 5

Ingredients

  • 5 apples, cold
  • 1 package of wrapped caramels, 11-ounce bag, or 1 package of Kraft caramel bits
  • 1 package of wooden caramel apple sticks
  • Parchment paper

Directions

  1. Wash the apples and set out to dry.
  2. Insert a wooden stick into the stem of each apple. 
  3. Microwave the caramels using the microwave method. 
  4. Tear off a piece of parchment paper large enough to cover a large plate. Optional: Spray the paper with cooking spray.
  5. Dip the apples into the caramel sauce. Make sure to turn the apples in the sauce to evenly coat them. Optional: Roll the apples in small chocolate candies, crushed nuts or sprinkles.
  6. Put finished apples in the refrigerator until caramel is firm. 
  7. Take out and enjoy.

Tip

  • Add some liquid. After heating for 1 minute, take the caramels out of the microwave and stir. This is a good time to add liquid to make the caramel smoother. Consider using heavy whipping cream, milk or water. The amount you adddepends on your plans for the caramel. Whipping cream and whole milkwill set up differently than skim milk or water. If you’re meltingcaramels for a recipe, refer to the instructions for the exact amount of liquid to add.  

  • Use or eat immediately. That rich, delicious and very smooth caramel sauce cools quickly. And if you don’t eat it, use it or store it correctly, you’ll be right back at step one with a big block of hardened caramels.

  • Mix in a dash of vanilla. For a twist on traditional caramel, mix in a teaspoon of vanilla or other flavors. 

About the Author

Sara Lindberg

Sara Lindberg is a lifestyle, health, wellness, and fitness freelance writer.