RECIPES:
Oct 27, 2022

Caramel Apple Dip

Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 20 mins
Serve this sweetened cream cheese dip topped with caramel with apple slices for dipping.

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My mom always makes this three ingredient caramel apple dip recipe for a quick and easy dessert to bring to parties. While it’s great year round, it’s perfect for fall gatherings! I give instructions for homemade caramel as well as tips for using store-bought in this recipe. 

The combination of the creamy, smooth layer of cream cheese, sweetened with confectioners sugar and topped with rich caramel is so luxurious and it only takes 3 ingredients (if using store-bought caramel)! Assemble it ahead of time and serve with crisp slices of your favorite sweet or tart apples for dipping!

Caramel Apple Dip

Key Ingredients in This Recipe

  • Caramel – I give instructions for making homemade caramel in this recipe from butter, sugar and cream though it can easily be swapped for ½ cup (174g) of store-bought caramel or dulce de leche. The sugar is caramelized slowly over a low heat, then combined with the butter and cream to reach the desired, spreadable consistency. Caramel can come in many shapes and sizes so store-bought jarred caramel may need to be warmed so it can be evenly spread depending on its thickness. Homemade caramel can be made and stored refrigerated in an airtight container for up to a month in advance. 
  • Cream cheese – Letting the cream cheese sit at room temperature to soften allows for easier blending with the sugar. 
  • Confectioners sugar – Also called powdered sugar, this superfine sugar melts into the cream cheese giving it a light and fluffy texture while slightly sweetening it. 
  • Apples –  Choose one type of apple or slice a few different varieties for people to choose. I like the combination of a tart apple like Granny Smith with the dip though a crisp, sweet apple like Honeycrisp or Gala also pair well. 

How to Make Caramel Apple Dip

Step 1: Caramelize the sugar. 

Add the sugar to a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan and heat over medium-low heat, stirring frequently until the sugar has melted and turns golden brown, about 15 minutes. Be patient while the sugar melts. It will clump before it melts then it caramelizes quickly, so keep an eye on it so the sugar doesn’t burn. 

Step 2: Add the butter. 

Remove the pot from heat and stir in the butter (it will bubble).

how to make homemade caramel stored in mason jar
Step 3: Stir in the cream and let cool. 

Slowly stir in the cream, stirring constantly until completely combined. Let cool completely and use or add to an airtight container and store refrigerated until ready to use.

Step 4: Make the cream cheese mixture. 

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or in a medium mixing bowl using a whisk) beat the cream cheese and slowly add the confectioner’s sugar on low speed until completely combined. Increase the speed to medium and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy, about an additional minute.

Step 5: Assemble and serve. 

Spread the cream cheese mixture on a large platter, serving dish or bowl using a rubber spatula. Spread it so the edges are slightly higher than the middle to help hold the caramel from spilling out. Evenly pour ½ cup (174g) of the caramel sauce or store-bought caramel over the top. Squeeze lemon over the top of the apple slices to prevent browning. Serve the caramel dip with the apple slices for dipping.

Tips and Tricks for This Recipe 

Tips for Homemade Caramel Sauce 
  • Use a candy thermometer. While you can look for visual cues when making caramel, for the best consistency the sugar should be 320ºF (160ºC). 
  • Add salt. For a saltier caramel sauce, add a generous pinch of Maldon Sea Salt. 
Swaps and Substitutions 
  • Dulce de leche can also be used in place of the caramel. It may need to be warmed slightly so it can be poured over the cream cheese mixture. 
  • Caramel sauce (like sundae sauce) will also work but may be a bit runnier.
  • I love serving apple slices with this indulgent dip though pears, graham crackers, vanilla wafers or pretzels also make a great pairing. 
Additional Toppings 

While I prefer the textures of this caramel dip as is, you can always top it off with one or more of the following: 

  • Toffee bits and pieces
  • Mini chocolate chips 
  • Chopped nuts like peanuts
  • A sprinkle of ground cinnamon 
  • A sprinkle of flakey sea salt 
How to Keep Apple Slices from Browning

While I prefer fresh apple slices, they can be prepped a bit ahead of time if needed. To slice the apples a little ahead of time and keep them from browning, squeeze a little lemon juice over them. Citric acid can also keep apples from browning (this is often used in grocery stores to prevent slices from browning). Store the apple slices refrigerated in an airtight container until ready to serve.

How to Prep This in Advance 
  • The caramel can be made in advance and stored, refrigerated until ready to use. 
  • The cream cheese mixture can also be made and stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 4 days in advance. 
  • Once the dip is assembled, store covered with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.  

Other Recipes to Try

If you enjoy this easy homemade caramel apple dip recipe, give these a try: 

Caramel Apple Dip

caramel apple dip with apple slices
Print Pin
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Serves 8

Ingredients:

For the caramel:

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into ½” pieces
  • ½ cup heavy cream

For the dip and serving:

  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, at room temperature
  • ½ cup confectioners sugar
  • ½ cup caramel (if using store-bought, otherwise from recipe above)
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Apple slices, for serving

Instructions:

For the caramel:

  • Add the sugar to a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan and heat over medium-low heat, stirring frequently until the sugar has melted and turns golden brown, about 15 minutes. Be patient while the sugar melts. It will clump before it melts then it caramelizes quickly, so keep an eye on it so the sugar doesn’t burn.
  • Remove the pot from heat and stir in the butter (it will bubble).
  • Slowly stir in the cream, stirring constantly until completely combined. Let cool completely and use or add to an airtight container and store refrigerated until ready to use.

For the dip and serving:

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or in a medium mixing bowl using a whisk) beat the cream cheese and slowly add the confectioner’s sugar on low speed until completely combined. Increase the speed to medium and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy, about an additional minute.
  • Spread the cream cheese mixture on a large platter, serving dish or bowl using a rubber spatula. Spread it so the edges are slightly higher than the middle to help hold the caramel from spilling out. Evenly pour ½ cup (174g) of the caramel sauce over the top.
  • Squeeze lemon over the top of the apple slices to prevent browning. Serve the caramel dip with the apple slices for dipping.

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