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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.
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What is a Candy Apple?
Homemade Candy Apples are whole apples with a clear, thin, hardened sugar coating on each one. The deep red color comes from a drop or two of red food coloring. A stick is inserted into the center of the apple so it can easily be held and eaten. Once cooled, 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. I immediately started testing recipes.
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 light corn syrup. I was hoping this would give the “candy” more of a caramel flavor, but instead the candy coating turned out very sticky and got stuck in my teeth.
On the second try, I gave up on the brown sugar and tried another recipe using cream of tartar. That recipe burned after ten minutes even though the recipe recommended 20 minutes. 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, especially with the kids. They taste great and they are fun to eat. I have a new fall tradition!
Ingredients in Candy Apples
For the perfect candy apples, you only need a few ingredients!
- Apples- I like Jonagold because they’re sweet and crisp. Other favorites are Granny Smith apples or green apples for a more tart flavor.
- Granulated White sugar
- White vinegar
- Red food coloring
What Supplies You’ll Need
Once you have your ingredients gathered, there are few other tools you’ll need to make a batch of this candy apple recipe:
- Cookie sheet
- Parchment paper or a silicone mat to dry the apples
- Lollipop sticks or popsicle sticks
- A medium-sized, heavy based pot or 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 with a paper towel before dipping them in the sugar mixture or the coating won’t stick to the apple.
- Then, twist the apple stem off as close to the base as possible.
- Combine sugar, vinegar, and hot water in a saucepan and start to simmer over medium heat to medium-high heat.
- Once the sugar syrup starts to boil, you don’t have to keep stirring it, but keep an eye on it! Some stove tops heat faster than others, so 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 hand 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
While the hard candy coating on the outside of the candy apples lasts a long time, the apple itself doesn’t. Store candy apples in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days. Or wrap each apple in cellophane or a decorative cellophane bag and keep them in the fridge until you need them.
Frequently Asked Questions
It has a sweet sugar crunch that adds to the natural flavor of the apple.
Simply add 1 tsp of cinnamon flavor to the candy mixture.
I like to use Jonagold Apples because they are sweet and crisp, green apples, pink ladies, Fuji, and Gala Apples work great too. Avoid red delicious, they won’t turn out as well since they are a more mushy apple.
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 – 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 – my Fall drink of choice!
- Apple Fries with Caramel Cream Dip – the perfect warm dessert for a crisp autumn evening. It made our house smell like apple pie.
- Apple Dumplings – 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, apple crisp recipe. Just like the apple crisp the lunch lady used to make back in the good ol’ days (but better)!
If you make these for Halloween, you might enjoy these recipes along with our delicious candy apples. Our other recipes including Halloween Candy Charcuterie Board, Harry Potter Pumpkin Pasties, and Halloween Rice Krispie make great homemade Halloween sweets.
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, saucepan 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.
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