8 large tart apples
8 wooden chopsticks for handles
1 cup butter
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Dip apples in boiling water for a few seconds, then dry with paper towels to remove any wax from the peels. Set apples aside; when completely cool, insert a wooden chopstick firmly into the bottom of each apple for a handle.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Stir butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, and sweetened condensed milk together in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, and reduce heat to medium. Cook until a candy thermometer reads 248 degrees F (120 degrees C), 25 to 30 minutes; stir constantly to prevent burning. A teaspoon of the syrup, dropped in a glass of cold water, should form a firm ball. Remove caramel from heat and stir in vanilla extract.
Working quickly, dip each apple into the hot caramel to completely coat the apple and about 1/2 inch of the wooden handle. Sprinkle apples with any desired toppings while still hot. Let caramel apples cool on the parchment paper. Use caution, caramel is very hot.