Insert a licorice stick or bamboo skewer into the stem end of each apple and pear. Reserve. In a medium heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar, water, lemon juice, lemon peel and vanilla extract. Cook, stirring, until the sugar melts. Increase the heat to high and cook until the mixture is golden amber in color. (Do not stir the mixture once you have stirred the mixture.) Remove the caramel from the heat. One at a time, dip the apples and pears in the caramel, twirling and swirling them to coat completely. Transfer the coated fruit to a wire rack and let the caramel harden, about 10 to 15 minutes. Continue dipping the apples and pears until all have been coated with the caramel. Store the caramel apples in pears in a cool, dry place (not the refrigerator), wrapped in cellophane if desired, until ready to serve up to 2 days.
Recipe courtesy of Donata Maggipinto