Apple, White Chocolate, and Bourbon Caramel Fudge
October 6, 2022
Fudge is just fun. It’s sweet and super rich, and kind of nostalgic feeling, which is why you always find it in cute village shoppes with hanging signs. In this version, dehydrated apples are pressed into the white chocolate and bourbon caramel fudge, for a bite-sized fall treat.
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Fudge has been kind of a new adventure for me. I have made fudge frostings plenty of times, but the standalone snack opens up a whole new world of sweets. One of the great things about fudge is that it can sit out at room temperature pretty much all day, making it perfect for a party or potluck.
In this version, the base is a white chocolate fudge, which has a perfect texture thanks to powdered milk. On top, there’s a swirl of bourbon caramel and plenty of dehydrated apple slices arranged in a pretty pattern. It’s sure to be a hit for any dessert lovers!
What You Need to Get Started
You can easily find all of the ingredients for this apple, white chocolate, and bourbon caramel fudge at your grocery store:
- Produce: Apples
- Pantry: Sugar, Corn syrup, White chocolate chips, Milk powder, Powdered sugar
- Fridge: Butter, Heavy cream, Milk
- From the Bar: Bourbon
- Equipment: Cookie sheets, Parchment paper, Saucepan, Thermometer, Mixing bowl, 8×8 Pan, Flexible spatula
How to Make Dehydrated Apples in the Oven
Even though the apples are the last piece of the fudge puzzle when you’re putting it all together later, you will want to start here when it comes to the prep. These can take some time to cook, since we are really just trying to remove the water from them without really cooking them down at all.
It all starts with choosing the right apples and cutting them perfectly thin. It’s best to use firm and sweet like Honeycrisp, Gala or Braeburn varieties. I used two giant apples, but if yours are smaller than average, you can use up to four. Basically, just keep going until you fill the pans.
Preheat your oven and grab two cookie sheets, lining each with a layer of parchment paper. Set these aside while you prep your apples.
Thin slices are important here, so be sure to cut them evenly and no thicker than one or two millimeters. You can use a mandoline if that’s easier, or just a knife you are very comfortable holding.
When I slice apples, I basically like to cut the whole apple into a three-by-three grid, with the core in the center. For each of the four side pieces, you’ll end up with a nice flat surface to use while making those slices. This definitely helps keep things stable.
Arrange the slices onto each of the baking sheets in a single layer, making sure that none of them are overlapping each other or touching. This allows the air to get around the apple pieces, making it easier for them to dry out.
Since we are baking these at a low temperature, it’s for a long time, about two hours, give or take half an hour or so. You’ll know they are done when the apple slices have shrunk in size and feel dried out.
Turn off your oven but leave the pans inside to cool as the oven itself returns to room temperature. Crack the door open slightly (you can use a wooden spoon to hold it open) to release any steam.
Once the apple slices are cool, set them aside until the rest of the fudge is ready to go.
How to Make Bourbon Caramel
Caramel making is a generally pretty simple, as long as you have your instant-read thermometer ready to go. You can learn more tips and tricks in my Baking Basics series on making caramel sauce. For this one, start by adding the sugar, water, and corn syrup into a small saucepan, and heat it stirring until the sugar dissolves.
Continue cooking the caramel until it reaches 325F, then lower the heat. At this point, you’ll be adding in heavy cream, butter, and bourbon. Be careful doing this, as it can seize up and splash. If you don’t want to use bourbon, you can replace it with half a teaspoon of vanilla extract or simply leave it out.
Continue cooking the caramel until it reaches 240F, which is the temperature that will get it to the firm ball stage once it cools. This will be the perfect match for the texture of the fudge. Transfer the finished caramel to a jar and set it aside while you make the fudge.
If you are making it in advance, wait until the caramel has cooled to room temperature, then seal the jar tightly and store it in the fridge for a couple months. Reheat in the microwave until liquid, and then let it cool slightly before adding it to the fudge.
Let’s Make White Chocolate Fudge
Now for the main event: the fudge itself! This one has a white chocolate base, so we’ll get started by melting some white chocolate chips together with butter. I like to do this in the microwave, in thirty second increments. Stir after each time you zap it until the mixture is nice and smooth.
Alternatively, you can use a double boiler to melt your chocolate and butter. Both of these methods give you better control, and will prevent the chocolate from burning. Just don’t cook it in a saucepan directly over the heat.
Next you’ll be adding in some milk and milk powder. The milk itself is used mostly to add a little bit of moisture and help everything come together more easily. Be sure it’s warmed up to room temperature at least before you add it. Otherwise, it could affect the consistency of the melted white chocolate.
The milk powder is like the secret magic in this fudge recipe. It adds a delicious creamy flavor, sure, but that’s not all. Milk powder also gives this fudge the perfect texture. Sometimes, white chocolate can coat the roof of your mouth and feel a little bit oily, thanks to the cocoa butter.
However, the milk powder helps give this a texture that is much more reminiscent of a classic piece of state fair fudge than biting into a bar of white chocolate. That’s what we want.
Finally, you’ll be adding in plenty of powdered sugar. This will help give the fudge its signature sweet taste and that melt-in-your-mouth quality. It also acts as structure, really holding all the less solid pieces of the fudge together to make those lovely squares.
Add the sugar in one cup at a time and stir it in thoroughly. This can be a little tough, especially after you add in the second cup. But there’s no shame in taking a break, or switching off stirring duties with a friend.
I don’t recommend using a stand or hand mixer to do this however. It can introduce too much air into your fudge, giving it a texture more like frosting, instead of that dense candy we are looking for.
Once everything is combined, transfer the white chocolate fudge to a square pan. There’s no need to grease it, but you can line the pan with parchment paper hanging over the edges. This will make it easier to remove the fudge once it’s set for cutting and serving.
Use a flexible spatula to scrape your bowl and get all of that white chocolate goodness into the pan. Then continue using it to spread the fudge into the edges and corners of the pan, and into an even layer.
At this point, the white chocolate fudge can be stored in the fridge for a few days. Let warm up to room temperature before finishing the preparations or enjoying it.
Build the Apple, White Chocolate, and Bourbon Caramel Fudge
Next, grab that jar of bourbon caramel sauce you set aside earlier, and drizzle it all over the top of the fudge. It will feel like a lot, but it’s the perfect amount, trust me. Is there really such a thing as too much caramel?
Grab a butter knife and use it to swirl the caramel into the fudge. This is more for getting it all mixed together rather than making it look pretty. We will be topping this with apple slices, so don’t focus too much on the pattern of the caramel itself.
Then, go grab the dehydrated apple slices you set aside earlier and begin press them, flat side down into the caramel and fudge. This is where you can get creative and make a fun design or pattern.
Try using the apple slices to make a fun themed design or just do something abstract. If you’ll be serving the fudge from the pan, your arrangement can totally be a showstopper on the dessert table!
However, before you can serve it you’ll need to let the fudge set and solidify. Luckily, this just involves a little bit of patience.
Cover the pan with aluminum foil and place it in the fridge for at least four hours, or preferably overnight. This will give the apple, white chocolate, and bourbon caramel fudge the time it needs to meld together into one delicious treat, instead of the differently textured layers.
Once chilled, allow the fudge to rest at room temperature for about half an hour before cutting it. I suggest using a bench scraper to make clean and easy cuts. You can press straight down through the fudge with it, which is much easier than trying to cut at an angle.
Also, be sure you are cutting fairly small pieces. It’s okay if they are not all equal in size, but I decided to do a six by six grid for a total of thirty-six mini fudge squares.
When serving, you can leave the fudge out at room temperature for up to a day. If you need to store it for longer or have leftovers, you can keep the full tray of fudge, cut or uncut, or any individual pieces in the fridge for a few days. Just be sure to let it warm up to room temperature before eating it.
Bite-sized decadence is here for fall! Dehydrated apples sit atop white chocolate and bourbon caramel fudge, for your new favorite party treat.
How to Serve Apple, White Chocolate, and Bourbon Caramel Fudge
Bite-sized treats like this really lend themselves to a dessert spread at a party or potluck. Whether you are hosting or letting someone else take the lead, these little dessert treats are a great addition to the sweets table.
To create your own spread of other personally-portioned options, surround these squares of fudge with peanut butter pretzel brownies, rainbow confetti blondies, lemon curd sandwich cookies, fig, pecan, and chocolate chip oatmeal cookies, and cinnamon roll cupcakes.
Or you can make this fudge the star of a happy hour or post-dinner party evening. Simply serve squares alongside classy or seasonal cocktails like a big pitcher of hard apple cider sangria, or a round of chocolate old fashioneds or birthday cake martinis. For something zero-proof, serve a cinnamon apple shrub.
More Caramel and Apple Treats to Try
Apple, White Chocolate, and Bourbon Caramel Fudge
- 2 Large Apples cut into thin slices (about 1-2 mm thick)
- ½ Cup Sugar
- ½ Tbsp Corn Syrup
- ¼ Cup Water
- 2 Tbsp Butter
- 2 Tbsp Heavy Cream
- 1 Tbsp Bourbon
White Chocolate Fudge
- 12 oz White Chocolate Chips
- 6 Tbsp Butter
- 1 Cup Milk Powder
- ¼ Cup Milk room temperature or warmed
- 2 Cups Powdered Sugar
- Preheat the oven to 200°F with two racks in the upper and lower center. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
- Arrange the apple slices on the pans in a single layer, not touching. Bake for 2-2½ hours, checking after about 90 minutes, and every 15 minutes after that, until the apple slices have dried out and shrunk.
- Turn off the oven and let the apples cool along with the oven with the oven door cracked.
- In a small saucepan, combine the sugar corn syrup and water. Heat on medium, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Once it begins to bubble, stop stirring. Continue cooking, as the mixture bubbles and begins to turn a light golden color.
- When an instant read thermometer measures 325°F, reduce the heat to low and immediately add in the bourbon, butter and heavy cream, and stir until smooth. The caramel may seize and bubble when you add the cold cream, so be careful.
- Continue cooking on low until the thermometer measures 240°F, then turn off the heat. Transfer the caramel to a jar and set aside to cool for 10-20 minutes.
White Chocolate Fudge
- In a large microwave safe bowl, combine the butter and white chocolate chips. Heat in 30 seconds increments, stirring after each until melted and smooth. , melt in microwave; add milk powder and milk; add sugar and stir in
- Add in the milk and milk powder, and stir to combine. Then add in the sugar and continue stirring until thoroughly mixed in.
- Transfer the white chocolate fudge to an 8x8 pan and spread with a flexible spatula into an even layer.
- Pour the cooled caramel on top and use a butter knife to create swirls with the fudge. Arrange the dried apples by pressing them into the fudge.
- Cover and refrigerate overnight or for at least 4 hours. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before slicing.
- Apples: It's best to use firm and sweet like Honeycrisp, Gala or Braeburn. If your apples are smaller than average, you can use up to 4.
- Make ahead tips:
- Wait until the caramel has cooled to room temperature, then seal tightly and store in the fridge for 1-2 months. Reheat in the microwave in 30-second increments, until liquid, and then let cool slightly before adding to the fudge.
- The white chocolate fudge, with or without the caramel and apples can be left out at room temperature for up to a day. For longer term, you can store it in the fridge for 3-5 days. Let warm up to room temperature before enjoying.