Unwrap your caramels. Put them in a medium sized sauce pan with the water and vanilla. Turn the heat to medium and let the caramels melt. Stir them often. You don’t want them burning to the bottom of your pan.
If you want to dip some of your caramel apples in nuts instead of chocolate, this would be the time to do so. Just roll them around a bit to cover the bottom of your apple. Or, if are totally nuts about nuts…. roll them all over your apple. You are the creator of your destiny here. Freedom of choice is a wonderful thing.
Put each bag of chocolate in a glass measuring cup. The 2 C size works really well. Melt the chips in the microwave for 30 seconds at a time stirring after each cooking interval. Don’t get the chocolate too hot, here. See the picture above. Some of the chips will still look like chips, but will melt easily by stirring. Add 1 t shortening to each of your chocolate mixtures and stir to incorporate.
Grab your apples out of the fridge. Take each apple and mold the bottom of it with your hand. Dip the apples into the chocolate. Hold the apple above the chocolate container to allow excess chocolate to drip off. After the apple has been dipped you can also take a butter knife and spread the chocolate around the apple, allowing the excess to drip off into your chocolate container.