Mini Caramel Apples

Makes 16 to 20

3/4 cup light corn syrup

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup unsalted butter

About 1 1/4 cups heavy cream, divided

1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

2 large red apples

20 slender but sturdy 4-inch twigs or skewers

1. In a 3-quart saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the corn syrup, sugar, butter and 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cream. Heat until mixture reaches 275 degrees on a candy thermometer, about 15 minutes, stirring often with the thermometer or a wooden spoon once it starts to turn color.

2. Grease a baking sheet. Place pecans and chocolate chips on separate plates. Using a 1-inch melon baller, cut apples into balls, 8 to 10 per apple. Push thickest end of a twig into each apple ball through the skin side to the center. Set on paper towels to absorb moisture.

3. Remove caramel from heat when it hits 275 degrees; pour in remaining cream, stirring until very smooth, about 1 minute, being careful of any splattering caramel.

4. Dip apple balls into the caramel, making sure the caramel comes over the edges of the skin; let excess drip off. Dip bottom of each ball into the nuts or chocolate, then set on baking sheet to cool. Serve immediately, or chill up to 3 hours, then serve at room temperature.

-- "Sunset Cook Taste Savor" (Oxmoor House, $26, 288 pages)