Special equipment: 12 wooden sticks
Combine all the ingredients together, except for the apples, in a large saucepan, and stir with a wooden spoon over a medium heat until all the sugar has dissolved and is not gritty. Use a wet pastry brush to wipe around the sides of the pan to dissolve any sugar crystals that may form.
Clip a candy thermometer on to the side of the pan and bring the sugar mixture to a rolling boil over medium heat, and cook until the thermometer reads 236 degrees F. Pour into a stainless steel bowl and allow it to cool to 200 degrees F.
While the syrup is cooling, push a wooden stick into each apple from the top through the core. The stick should be deep enough so it won't fall off when you dip the apple into the caramel.
Line a cookie sheet with a silicone baking mat or waxed paper.
Dip each apple into the 200 degrees F caramel, watching carefully, so as not to dip your fingers into the caramel. Remove the excess caramel by turning the apples over the caramel bowl and then transfer to the cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining apples.
Chill for 15 minutes, then remove them from the silicon mat or waxed paper. Transfer to a serving platter and serve.
This is a fun project for children, but they must be supervised by an adult at all times. Also nuts and other flavors can be added at the dipping stage.