Gourmet candy apples are considered a delicious treat all around the world. While sold and enjoyed from the markets in China to the streets of England, many people find that candy apples bring with them nostalgic thoughts of falling leaves, festivals, and rows of the confectionery bliss cooling on the counter top on a crisp, autumn day. Bright red candied apples are a cheerful delight that are welcomed by young and old alike from all ends of the earth.
How To Make Gourmet Candy Apples
Candy apples don't have to be a reserved specialty only for festivals, fairs, and fall holidays. You can make gourmet candy apples in your own kitchen with just a few ingredients. Candy apples also make the perfect party favor, neighbor gift or even just a treat for yourself and your family. Although very few ingredients are needed to whip up a batch of candied apples, it is important to remember that the process requires a careful eye and fairly precise timing, since it does involve traditional candy making.
One of the secrets to making a perfect candy apple is actually in the apple itself. Some apple varieties are definitely better than others when it comes to making candied apples. A few of the best apples for this recipe are Braeburn, Fuji, McIntosh or similar varieties. The less firm apple varieties, such as Red Delicious and Rome apples, tend not to work out as well for candy apples due to their mushier, inner consistency.
Additionally, if you purchase your apples from a local orchard or farmer's market you will typically end up with smaller-sized apples, which are great for making candied apples. The local varieties are also free of the wax in which most grocery store apples are coated, and you are supporting local farmers, which is just an added bonus. If you do obtain apples with a waxy coating, dip them in boiling water and use a soft cloth to rub off the wax. If the waxiness isn't removed, you may have trouble with the candy sticking and staying put on the apple.
The following recipe is a commonly known recipe for candy apples, and will make six medium-sized candy apples. The key to making perfect, delicious candy apples lies more in a watchful eye, good apples and a specific candy making process than it does anything else.
Ingredients Needed For Gourmet Candy Apples
- unsalted butter (to line parchment paper)
- 2 cups sugar
- 3/4 cup water
- 1/2 cup light corn syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon red food coloring
- 6 medium apples
- parchment paper
- baking sheet
- wooden sticks
- candy thermometer
The first step in making gourmet candy apples is preparing your area. Line the baking sheet with parchment paper. Butter the parchment paper and set the baking sheet aside, ready to hold apples once they are dipped in the candy concoction.
After your parchment-papered baking sheet is ready, wash and dry the apples thoroughly. Insert a wooden stick into the top of each one. You can purchase rounded sticks that are specifically purposed for candy apples, but you can also get creative with your sticks, as well. Wooden craft sticks are one option, or you can find, wash and lay out to dry sturdy twigs and branch-style sticks from trees in your yard. The last option adds a little rustic, autumn flair to your candied apples.
Now that your apples are prepared, combine the sugar, water, corn syrup and red food coloring in a medium-sized saucepan. Place the pan over high heat, and stir the ingredients together just enough to make sure that the sugar is dissolved so that it won't crystallize. Continue to heat until your confectionery mixture is boiling, but once a boil is reached, make sure you do not stir it anymore, and reduce the heat to medium-high. At this point, insert the candy thermometer and continue to boil your mixture until it reaches the hard crack stage. This stage is between 300 and 310 degrees and takes approximately 20 minutes to reach. Make sure your candy reaches this stage, because if the candy is not cooked to the hard crack stage, your apples will end up being gooey and too sticky to enjoy.
Once your sugary mixture has reached the proper temperature, immediately remove it from the heat. Start dipping the apples in the concoction, making sure they are entirely coated with the red candy. Once coated, place each candied apple on the parchment-lined baking sheet. It is crucial to work as quickly and efficiently as possible during this step, as you don't want your candy to harden and no longer be pliable before you are finished.
For variation, you can add toppings to your candied coating. If you add toppings, sprinkle them on the candy-coated apple once you remove them from the saucepan. Some topping ideas include sprinkles, chopped nuts, mini chocolate chips, candy corn, and mini M&M's.
Packaging And Storing Candy Apples
Allow the candied apples to cool and harden before handling, eating or packaging. Candied apples can be stored in an airtight container for up to three days. Make sure to store them in a cool, dry place. Humidity and heat will cause the candy coating to grow sticky.
Candied apples are the perfect fall treat. They make great party favors, fall festival fare, and you can even sell them as a fundraiser. To wrap them individually, cellophane treat bags work wonderfully, and you can tie them closed with a satin or grosgrain ribbon, or for a rustic touch, you can embellish the bags by tying them closed with strips of burlap.
Nothing beats a yummy candied apple from your kitchen shared with loved ones on a crisp fall evening. You can create memories making and eating gourmet candy apples with your family that will last forever. The next time you pass a farmer's market or an apple orchard, stop, pick up a bunch, and head home to plan a candy apple making party!