Cheerful Candy Apples | Hallowe’en Treat – No Corn Syrup
I remember, back in the Dark Ages, when my mom would make candy apples to hand out on Hallowe’en. Of course, you could never do that nowadays (they’d all be tossed by vigilant parents), but I can re-create some old-timey Hallowe’en feel by making candy apples for my kids and the neighbours as a pre-Hallowe’en treat. However, the old-timey thing I didn’t want to revisit was corn syrup (yuck, so bad for you). So I made these without corn syrup, and would be willing to try brown sugar instead of white.
I did have a false start, burning the first batch of candy. I thought I’d be able to do the water test (drop the candy into very cold water, straight from the pot, and it should separate into hard, brittle threads), but I wasn’t sure and wasn’t sure and then, suddenly, it was burnt. I went out and bought a candy thermometer and all was right in the world again.
Total Time Required: About 1/2 hour. It can take the candy awhile to get to the “hard crack” stage.
Costs: About $15, if you have to buy a candy thermometer (mine was $4.97 from Walmart) and all of the ingredients. I bought bamboo stakes from the dollar store ($1/100), candy from the bulk food store, and had everything else at home.
Materials and Ingredients Required:
– candy thermometer
– various candies for decoration
– wooden spoon
– wax/parchment paper or silicone sheet to put candy apples on to set
– less than 1/3 cup of water
– a slice of lemon (this replaces the corn syrup in preventing the sugar syrup from crystallizing when cooking).
– a cinnamon stick (or cinnamon candies for a stronger taste)
– 1 tsp red food colouring (or, if you’re a non-traditionalist, your colour of choice).
– apples! This amount will coat about 8 – 10 small ones.
1. Put the stakes into your apples, almost all the way through (but not ALL the way – you don’t want anyone to stab themselves in the lip while they’re eating it). Set them on your wax paper, ready to be grabbed, and set out any candies you’d like to use for decoration. The candy hardens quickly, so you’ll have to stick them on as soon as you’ve dipped your apple.
2. In a pot, combine the sugar with enough water to turn it the consistency of wet sand. Squirt in the juice from your lemon slice. Stir in your food colouring and drop in your cinnamon stick/candies. Clip your thermometer to the side of the pot.
3. Place the pot upon the stove and bring the ingredients to a boil at a medium heat. You don’t want to turn it up to max, because this stuff burns in the blink of an eye. I stirred continuously and watched very closely for the temperature to go up to 310F. Apparently, the hard crack stage is anywhere from 300 to 310F, but I found 300 still a bit goopy. Watch your heat VERY carefully, because sugar burns at 350F, and it can jump those 40 degrees very quickly. I know I keep mentioning this, but I can’t stress enough what a drag it is to burn an entire pot of sugar. And it doesn’t smell very good, either.
4. When your sugar syrup is at optimum temperature, immediately remove it from the burner, grab your first apple, and start dunking. You’ll have to grab your pot and tip it to one side to get a good pool of syrup to coat your apple. Do this quickly and then put your candies on to make a face, or just roll your apple in whatever you’d like – coconut? sprinkles? nuts? The possibilities are endless. Just be aware that there may be a bit of slippage with the candies, so your smiling candy apple character may end up wearing a bit of a frown by the time the coating hardens.
5. When you’ve finished your apple, place it on your wax paper and proceed to the next. I found I had to reheat the syrup (just for a minute or two) a couple of times to do 6 apples.
6. Let the apples sit about 10 minutes, just to make sure they’re completely hard. If you’re not eating them right away, put them in the fridge. Sitting out on a warm countertop will melt their poor little faces.
I even had enough syrup left to make some scary, blood-red candy for the older kids. Bwa-ha-ha-ha! (So far that’s been me. Too. Much. Candy.)