Everything you need to know to make perfect candy apples every time!
These easy tips and techniques are your ticket to amazing candy apples that are sure to wow any crowd. Top off a classic red candy apple with your favorite candy pieces for a truly unique taste sensation!
The secret to a perfect candy apple is in pairing the sweetness of candy with the right apple.
In my opinion, it's a sure winner to pair a tart apple with a sweet candy exterior. Of course, if you can't stand tart apples, then pick a sweeter one - you have plenty of choices! But stay away from mushier varieties like Red Delicious, or baking apples like Romes. Check step 1 for my recommendations.
Step 1: Gather Your Materials
Of course you'll need APPLES!!!But not all apples are created candy-worthy. Here's a quick list of some great ones to look for:
- Fuji: firm and sweet, my personal favorite all-around apple
- Granny Smith: green and tart, awesome for candy apples for both of these reasons!
- Braeburn: firm and sweetly tart
- Golden Delicious: firm and sweet
- Jonathan: firm and sweetly tart
- Jonagold: A hybrid of Jonathan and Golden Delicious, firm skin, tangy-sweet
- Lady: firm, sweetly tart
- McIntosh: firm, sweetly tart
To candy-up 6 apples, you'll need:
- 1/2 c (120mL) light corn syrup
- 2 c (480 mL) sugar - your choice on brown v. white. I use some of each, but all brown can be more susceptible to burning.
- 3/4c (180 mL) water
- Food coloring (opt.) - red is traditional, but any color works!
- Toppings!!! I used toffee pieces, mini chocolate chips, sprinkles, candy corn, red hots, and gummi bears! Just go crazy. I mean, really, they're CANDY APPLES!
Additionally, make sure you have the following things at hand before you get started:
- Candy apple skewers
- Candy thermometer - essential for making perfect candy every time - Make sure your thermometer's accurate: being off by just a few degrees can mean the difference between delicious and burnt. To check its accuracy, take the temp of a pot of boiling water. The thermometer should read 212 degrees Fahrenheit/100 degrees Celsius when the water is boiling. If not, note what temperature it reads at and adjust for the difference.
- A pot for candy coating, worked best for me when it had a handle
- Baking sheet lined with foil or silicone sheet for dipped apples
- Pastry brush and bowl of water to keep near your pot (I'll explain why later!)
- Bowls for your TOPPINGS!!!
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Step 2: How Do You Like Them Apples?
Once you've chosen your perfect specimen, spear them wisely.I got these awesome round wooden sticks with perfect points, made exactly for this purpose.
For the most part, I tried to skewer them so the stick would point upright even when the apple was sitting slightly askew.
How important is this?
Not at all. But you know me. I can get particular about this kind of stuff. Just have fun.
Stabbing apples with tiny stakes is a perfect stress reliever. You'll wish you were making dozens.
Step 3: It's Candy Time!
Your recipe again:
- 1/2 c light corn syrup
- 2 c sugar - your choice on brown v. white. I use some of each, but all brown can be more susceptible to burning.
- 3/4c water
- Food coloring (opt)
- Cook over medium-high heat.
- Stir to dissolve the sugar - make sure the sugar dissolved before the mixture boils to avoid crystalization
- Bring the mixture to a boil. If using brown sugar, reduce heat to medium-low. It will take longer to candify, but it will prevent burning.
- Once the mixture boils, DON'T STIR IT ANYMORE! This is why we have that nifty pastry brush standing by! You can brush the pot's side with warm water to prevent crystals from forming! (Boy how I wish I'd known that handy trick the first time I set out to make caramels!)
- Simmer the candy mixture until it reaches 290o F (~143o C) for a soft, slightly gooey shell. This took a surprising amount of time, so be patient.
- For a lighter, more brittle candy, heat the sugar to between 300o and 310o F (150 - 155oC). If you heat the sugar to 310oF (155oC), place the pot in a cold water bath to stop the sugar from cooking further.
Step 4: Dip, Dip, Dip
Work quickly to coat the apples, before it hardens!
- Dip your apples, holding the wooden stick, and submerge completely in the candy.
- Tilt the pot and swirl the apples for full coating.
Step 5: Candy, Candy, Candy!
Time to get creative.
While a classic candy apple is, well, classic, take this opportunity to show off your wilder side by dressing these beauties up in the topping of your dreams!
As soon as you've dipped your apple in the sugar coating, dunk it in the bowl of your choice of sweet candy goodness before the shell hardens! Use your fingers to mash on as much topping(s) as it will hold. Mix 'em up - my favorite was mini chocolate chips + sprinkles. It looks like a kaleidoscope!
Place the finished apples on the prepared baking sheet.
Step 6: Behold
When all of your apples are ready, move the tray to the refrigerator to allow them to cool.
Check out some of the great creations we made! Though I love the way the chocolate chips + sprinkles looks, I also spent a great deal of time creating the gummi sculpture. Ok, not a GREAT deal of time, since the candy sets up in like five seconds, but still. It looks neat.
While the original candy apple is a classic and a beauty to behold (and to be held!) the rest of these creations are gonna take a knife and fork to enjoy.