In practice they are usually disappointing. They are often died a garish red. The candy coating is either adamantine, or it sticks to your teeth and threatens to pull out your molars. And usually the fruit is so large that it cannot be eaten comfortably from the end of a stick. You have to unhinge your jaw, which compromises your ability to break the adamantine candy coating.
In theory all these problems can be solved.
Let’s talk apples. Any good eating-apple is a good candy-apple. Firm, crisp, juicy. Apples that may be a touch sour to eat out of hand can still make good candy apples. As I hinted above, small apples are key. I say 2.5″ in diameter at the most. Edmonton is awash in many varieties of smaller apple that you can comfortably fit between your teeth.
As an aside, to make candy apples you have to use whole, intact apples; you can’t use segments or slices. The skin of the apple acts as a moisture barrier between the flesh of the fruit and the hard candy. If the hard candy comes into contact with moisture it starts to melt. Candied slices of apple will deteriorate within 10 minutes of the sugar setting.
Most candy apples are dyed an intense, impossible red. Personally I think they look better without food colouring, as you can see the natural colour of the apple. Edmonton-grown apples come in a shocking array of colours, from gecko green to straw yellow to lipstick red.
I know it’s a bit crafty, Pinterest-y, even Martha Stewart-y, but I love using twigs from an apple tree as the sticks for candy apples.
- 480 g granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup corn syrup
- 180 g water
- 8-12 apples, firm, crispy specimens not more than 2.5″ across
- Skewer each of the apples with a thick twig from an apple tree. Line them up on a sheet tray lined with parchment paper.
- Combine the sugar, corn syrup, and water in a heavy-bottomed stainless steel pot. Stir briefly to moisten all the sugar. Turn the heat to medium high. Monitor the temperature of the syrup with a candy thermometer.
- As soon as the syrup temperature reaches 310°F, remove the pot from the stove. Working quickly, dip each of the apples in the syrup, rolling the apple to ensure the entire surface is coated with the candy.
- Allow the syrup to cool and harden before serving. Obviously.