Preparation / Directions:
Would you pay $18 for this impressive gift? That's about what they cost in gourmet food shops and mail-order catalogs. And for our version, which costs about $7, we used real chocolate, not chocolate coating. A wooden chopstick works best as a handle and makes coating the apple much easier.
1. Grease a 5-inch square of waxed paper. Place on a small plate.
2. Insert chopstick into stem end of apple, being careful not to go all the way through.
3. Microwave 15 of the caramels and 1 tablespoon water in a medium-size microwave-safe bowl on high 1 to 1 1/2 minutes, stirring once, until melted and smooth. Or melt in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring until smooth. Let stand 1 minute.
4. Holding stick, dip apple into hot caramel, turning until coated all over and caramel is used up. (If needed, use a small metal spatula to help spread caramel.) Place on greased paper. Refrigerate 5 minutes.
5.Meanwhile, melt remaining 10 caramels and 1 1/2 teaspoons water. Dip apple a second time. Refrigerate 10 minutes.
6. While apple chills, microwave chocolate and cream in a medium-size bowl on high 1 to 1 1/2 minutes, until melted. Or melt in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir until smooth.
7. Put chopped nuts on a plate. Dip apple into chocolate mixture to coat, using a small spatula to help spread chocolate. Dip bottom into nuts, then roll sides gently in nuts to coat. Spoon remaining nuts over top of apple.
8. Refrigerate on waxed paper 2 hours, or until hard. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate up to 1 week. When ready to eat, unwrap, leave at room temperature 20 minutes for caramel to soften, then cut in wedge