1 (11‑ounce) bag soft caramel candies (about 40 candies)
Vegetable oil spray
4 medium or 6 small Granny Smith apples, stems removed
1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
Rimmed baking sheet
4 to 6 popsicle sticks
Place caramels in freezer for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Spray lightly with vegetable oil spray. Set parchment-lined baking sheet next to stove.
While caramels freeze, insert 1 popsicle stick into stem end of each apple, pushing stick about 1 inch into apple.
Unwrap caramels and place in small saucepan. Add cream, vanilla, and salt.
Cook over medium-low heat until caramels begin to melt, about 5 minutes. Use rubber spatula to stir and scrape bottom of saucepan. Continue to cook, stirring often, until caramels are melted and mixture is completely smooth, 5 to 7 minutes. Turn off heat and slide saucepan to cool burner.
Working quickly, carefully dip apples to mostly cover with caramel, following photos below. (If caramel becomes too thick to dip easily, reheat over medium-low heat, stirring often, until loosened, 2 to 3 minutes.)
Hold handle of saucepan and carefully tip to one side. Use other hand to hold popsicle stick and carefully dip apple into caramel, turning to coat most of the apple on all sides (ask an adult for help).
Lift apple out of caramel and gently shake to let extra sauce drip into pot, about 10 seconds.
Turn apple upright and gently twist back and forth to even out coating. Hold upright for 30 seconds to set coating.
Place apple, with stick pointing up, on greased parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat dipping with remaining apples.
Place baking sheet in refrigerator and chill until caramel is firm, about 30 minutes. Serve. (Caramel apples can be refrigerated in airtight storage container for up to 3 days.)
For extra crunch and flavor, you can add toppings to your caramel apple coating!
Place 1/2 cup finely chopped nuts (we especially like salted peanuts or pecans) or shredded coconut on plate and spread into an even layer. Roll coated apple in topping before placing on parchment-lined baking sheet to set.