These candy apples are a yummy fall treat! Unlike caramel apples, candy apples have a delicious candy shell that crunches when you bite into it.
What is a Candy Apple?
A candy apple is a whole apple with a clear, thin, hardened sugar coating. People often use red food coloring to give the coating a rich red color. A stick is inserted in the center of the apple so it can easily be held and eaten. The coating is crispy, not chewy.
I was watching a British TV show a few years ago where the characters were eating candy apples, also referred to as “toffee apples.” They looked so good! Growing up in the United States, I had never had candy apples, only caramel apples. There was a big crunch when the main character bit into one. My curiosity was piqued, and I started testing recipes so I could try one.
Best Candy Apple Recipe
My search began with looking for recipes online and watching a couple of tutorials. I picked the three that looked the best and tried them. The first try was a disaster. It called for part brown sugar, part white sugar, and corn syrup. I was hoping this would give the “candy” more of a caramel flavor, but instead the candy coating turned out very sticky.
On the second try I gave up on the brown sugar and tried another recipe using cream of tartar. For some reason, that recipe burned after cooking for 10 minutes when 20 minutes was recommended – and it smelled horrible!
The third recipe turned out better after making several adjustments. I admittedly had more than a few failed attempts, but learned a lot with each one. With some practice I was able to get the candy coating thin and crispy. I’ve been using this recipe for years and the apples turn out perfectly every time.
I can now see why these candy apples are a favorite. They taste great and they are fun to eat. I have a new fall tradition!
What You’ll Need
In addition to the simple ingredients of sugar, white vinegar, and water for the sugar coating, you will need the following:
- Cookie sheet
- Parchment paper
- Lollipop sticks or popsicle sticks
- A medium-sized, heavy based saucepan
- Pastry brush
- Candy thermometer
Candy Apple Making Tips
Because of trial and error, I have learned some things to do and some things NOT to do when making candy apples. Please learn from my mistakes and save yourself time and a mess.
- Wash the apples, and then dry them thoroughly before dipping them in the sugar mixture. The coating won’t stick if the apple is wet.
- Then, twist the apple stem off as close to the base as possible.
- Once the sugar mixture starts to boil, you don’t have to keep stirring it. It is a temptation to run out of the room and switch a load of laundry or check Facebook, but don’t do it! You will have a mess on your hands. Keep a close eye on the boiling sugar. Some stove tops heat faster than others. Be sure to use the candy thermometer and watch it closely. The temperature can jump quickly! Trust me, I’ve learned this lesson the hard way.
- If there are bubbles in the sugar mixture, there will be bubbles in the coating on your apples. While this may look cool for a Halloween party (they look like warts), it may not be the look you want. To prevent this, again, be patient. Wait for the mixture to stop bubbling before dipping the apples.
- It takes two hands to dip the apples. One to hold the handle of the pan and tip it so the sugar mixture is deep enough to coat the entire apple. Use your other hand to swirl the apple into the mixture quickly and evenly. Be sure to let the excess sugar coating drain back into the pan.
- Do not use cooking spray on the parchment paper because it will add an oily finish on the bottom of the apples.
What is the Best Apple to Use for Making Candy Apples?
Candy apples have a delicious, crunchy candy coating. Every bite is like a little party in your mouth. For the best candy apples, use a crisp, sweet apple. I’ve used Jonagold apples and recently tried the new SweeTango apples with this recipe. Both have the perfect texture and sweetness for Candy Apples. However, a fresh, crisp Gala, Fuji, or Honey Crisp apple will also work great. If you are a fan of tart apples, a Granny Smith can be used. The tartness of the apple is a nice contrast to the sweet candy coating.
How to Store Candy Apples
The hard candy coating on the outside of the candy apples will last a long time, but the apple itself will not because air gets into the apple when the wooden stick is inserted. If you are not serving and eating your candy apples right away, then they can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days. They can also be stored in the refrigerator wrapped and tied in cellophane, or in a decorative cellophane bag.
More Apple Desserts
Use apples to make the best desserts and treats all year round. Here are a few more of our favorites.
- Disneyland’s Apple Pie Caramel Apples – Apple Pie Caramel Apples from Disneyland are a must when going to Disneyland! You can find them on Main Street. Can’t make it to Disneyland? Bring the magic to your kitchen with this easy recipe!
- Starbucks Caramel Apple Spice Cider – Starbucks Caramel Apple Spice Cider Copycat is my Fall drink of choice!
- Apple Fries with Caramel Cream Dip – Apple Fries with Caramel Cream Dip are the perfect warm dessert for a crisp Autumn evening. It made our house smell like apple pie.
- Apple Dumplings – Apple Dumplings are like individual apple pies and they are very easy to make. Best when hot out of the oven with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream!
- Traditional Apple Crisp – A no-frills, easy, traditional apple crisp recipe that can’t be beat. Just like the apple crisp the lunch lady used to make back in the good ol’ days (but better)!
How to Make Candy Apples
- Line a cookie sheet or tray with wax paper or parchment paper. Wash and dry apples and twist off the stems. Insert a lollipop stick, popsicle stick, or thick wooden skewer into the top of each apple.
- In a medium sized, heavy based, sauce pan combine the sugar water and vinegar. Bring the mixture to a boil. To prevent burning on the sides of the pan, use a wet pastry brush to wipe the sugar granules that collect above the boiling mixture. Do not stir the mixture. After mixture is boiling well, simmer for 20 minutes or until it reaches the hard crack stage (about 150 C or 295-310 F). Keep a close eye on it so it doesn't burn. It is best to check often with a candy thermometer.
- Stir in the food coloring until the color is uniform. Remove the pan from the heat. The mixture will be bubbly. It is important to wait until it stops bubbling to dip the apples, or they will be covered with little bubbles (which may be good if you want your apples to look like they are covered in warts for Halloween).
- To dip the apples, carefully tip the pan to one side and insert one side of the apple into the mixture and rotate it until it is covered. Allow it to drain a little and place the apple on the wax paper to cool and harden.