Toffee Apples

It only takes 30 minutes to make a batch of crunchy, chewy fairground style Toffee Apples- and it’s surprisingly easy!

Preparation time: 10 minutesCooking time: 20 minutes
Serves: 8Difficulty: Moderate

Ingredients

  • 8 small apples
  • 400g/14oz/2 cups of granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of white wine vinegar
  • 120ml/1⅕dl/⅕ pint/½ cup of water
  • 1 teaspoon of red food coloring (optional)

Special Equipment

  • A small stainless steel saucepan
  • 8 sticks (lollipop sticks or small kebab skewers)
  • A sugar thermometer

Method

  1. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Wash the apples, remove the stems, and insert a lollipop stick into the top of each apple.
  2. Pour the sugar, water and vinegar into the saucepan and stir everything together. Pop the saucepan over a high heat and bring the mixture to the boil. Then reduce the hob temperature to medium and allow it to simmer for about 18 minutes.
  3. Do not stir the syrup at all while it’s simmering, but keep a close eye on it. If you think it’s in danger of burning lower the temperature.
  4. After 18 minutes, insert a sugar thermometer into the syrup to test the temperature. It needs to be at the ‘hard crack’ stage- which it reaches between 146 to 154°C, or 295 to 309°F. If you don’t have a sugar thermometer, you can test the syrup by dropping a spoonful of it into a glass of very cold water. It’s reached the ‘hard crack’ stage if, when it hits the water, it forms hard, brittle threads that snap if you try to bend them. If it isn’t ready, allow it keep simmering and keep testing the temperature every other minute until it’s ready.
  5. Remove the syrup from the heat and stir in the food colouring.
  6. Wait half a minute, then start dipping the apples in the saucepan, rotating them in the syrup to ensure they get an even coverage.
  7. Allow each apple to dribble a little excess syrup back into the saucepan, then place them on the baking paper and allow them to cool.

Tip

  • Make sure you keep a very close eye on the syrup while it’s cooking, as sugar burns very, very easily. Keep checking on it every couple of minutes to ensure it doesn’t burn, and if it isn’t ready after it’s simmered for 18 minutes, test it every other minute until it’s done.
  • Make sure you use vinegar in the syrup, that the saucepan is very very clean, and that you don’t stir the syrup while it’s simmering- if you don’t do all three the sugar might crystalize instead of caramelizing.
  • After removing the syrup from the hob, wait half a minute before you begin dipping the apples. If you’d prefer them to look bubbly, start dipping them right away.

Background

Home: New Jersey, USA

Relatives:  Caramel Apple (U.S.), Lollipop (U.S.)

History

Candy Apples, which are known as Toffee Apples in Commonwealth English and as Pommes d’Amour in Francophone countries, were invented by William Kolb in 1908. Kolb was a confectioner from New Jersey, and actually invented Candy Apples by accident whilst experimenting with a new recipe for hard red cinnamon candy, which he wanted to display in his shop window to attract new customers at Christmas.

Kolb opted to showcase the vibrant red candy by dipping apples in it and displaying them- but passersby were more interested in buying the candy dipped apples than the candy itself. Kolb promptly ramped up production of Candy Apples and sold them by the thousand. They soon became popular across the state and later, throughout the country and abroad.

Candy Apples, being bright red and, at least initially, cinnamon flavoured, were originally a Christmas treat. But over time they became more associated with Halloween- possibly because apples are more in abundance in autumn than at Christmas. However their popularity at Halloween subsided somewhat in the 1970s, when there was a national scare about contaminated candy apples being given out to unsuspecting trick or treaters. These rumours were found to be unsubstantiated and Candy Apples have since made a Halloween comeback! In the UK, they continue to be eaten at Halloween but are most popular 5 days later, on Bonfire Night.

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