How To Make Toffee Apples That Don’t Suck

How To Make Toffee Apples That Don’t Suck

A crispy, tart and sweet apple, lovingly coated in either a shiny candied shell or rich robe of caramel, is a quintessential treat that is both easy to make, but also fairly easy to mess up. To make sure your toffee apples are the best they can possibly be, there are a few factors you need to keep in mind.

Illustration by Angelica Alzona, photos by Loren Javier, Abi Porter, and photogmateo.

Pick Good Apples

How To Make Toffee Apples That Don’t Suck

I’ve said it before, but Red Delicious apples are made of mushy lies. They’re bland and mushy, and covering them in a sugary shell isn’t going to obscure the high crap factor of this apple. Instead, pick an apple with some flavour to it, such as any of the following:

  • Granny Smith: Sure, she’s a little sour, but the hit of acid provided by Granny can cut through a rich, buttery caramel like a hot knife through rich, buttery butter.
  • Honeycrisp: This sweet, refreshing and crisp apple is almost dessert on its own, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t candy it.
  • Fuji: This apple has a similar flavour profile to the Honeycrisp, but is slightly more tart and usually cheaper.
  • Any of These: Ambrosia, Cortland, Pink Lady or Gala. Basically, if you like to eat it fresh, you’d probably like to eat it with a sugary coating on it.

Once you have a type (or several types) of apples picked out, you are ready to coat them in something sweet. Oh, before we begin, give them a real good wash with hot water and dry them violently to remove as much wax as possible.

Sugar Coat It

How To Make Toffee Apples That Don’t Suck

Honestly, while apples are important, what you’re putting on your apple is much more so, because the whole point of a toffee apple is the toffee part. There are two basic categories of sugar enrobed apples: The bright red glossy candied kind, and the caramel-coated kind. You can of course make your own caramel, but I prefer the lazy way.

Lazy Caramel Apples

You will need:

  • 6-12 apples, depending on their size (you can get some really cute mini ones in some stores)
  • 1 400g package of those little pre-wrapped caramel cubes, unwrapped, obviously.
  • 2 tablespoons of thickened cream
  • A pinch of salt

Melt the caramels and cream together in a double boiler or microwave (heating 12 seconds at a time and stirring in between heatings). Stir in the salt and let cool for a couple of minutes. Remove the stems from all of your (washed and dried) apples and stick a craft stick or chopstick where the stem used to be. Roll ’em around in your delicious caramel until they’re evenly coated. Place the dipped apples on baking paper to set. You can of course roll them in various toppings before letting them set, but we’re going to cover that in a bit.

Then there is the glassy, bright red candied coating. It’s a cheerful looking treat, and — though there’s no avoiding the sugar thermometer with this one — you’ll only need four ingredients for it.

Classic Candied Apples (via Food.Com)

You will need:

  • 6-12 apples, depending on their size (you can get some really cute mini ones in some stores)
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 1 cup of water
  • ¼ teaspoon of cream of tartar
  • Red food colouring (or green if you’re going for a “poison apple” vibe)

Wash and dry your apples, remove their stems, stab ’em with craft sticks or chopsticks, and set them aside while you prepare the sweet coating. Combine sugar, water and cream of tartar in a pot and set over high heat with a sugar thermometer clipped to the side. Boil until the coating reaches the “hard crack” stage (150C), stir in your food colouring of choice and dip and swirl the apples to coat. Place of a sheet of wax paper to set.

If you wanted to try something a little different, and make a toffee apple that’s somewhere in between candied and caramel-d, you could swap out plain white sugar for dry, oven-caramelised granulated sugar. The texture would be different than either of the other coatings, and the flavour would be deeper and more complex than your typical “candied” specimen.

Once you have a solid foundation of sugary goodness, you’re ready to party with toppings.

Top ‘Em Off

How To Make Toffee Apples That Don’t Suck

There is nothing wrong with a simple caramel or toffee apple, unadorned and enjoyed in its most basic form, but I am all about doing the most with this particular confection. Here are some of my favourite things to sprinkle:

  • Salty Snacks: Pretzels, potato chips, crushed cheese crisps, popcorn, roasted nuts of all kinds, giant flakes of Maldon salt, trail mix, sesame seeds.
  • Sweet Things: Caramel corn, candied nuts, crushed Oreos, mini M&M’s, crushed toffee, toasted coconut, candied fruit, candied ginger, freeze dried fruit, sprinkles, marshmallows, sugary cereal, sprinkles, crushed malted milk balls (Maltesers of gtfo), edible flowers (it would just be so pretty).
  • Delicious Drizzles: Temper some white, milk or dark chocolate and drizzle it on, or make your own magic shell for a quick-setting chocolatey treat.

There is, of course, no reason to limit yourself to just one topping, and a candied apple is the perfect canvas on which to paint your unique flavourscape of complementary tastes and textures. Some inspiration:

  • The Prettiest, Most Elegant Apple: Granny Smith + caramel + giant flakes of salt + edible flowers
  • The Tropical Holiday: Honeycrisp + candy coating + toasted coconut + macadamia nuts + a sprinkling of crushed, freeze-dried pineapple
  • The Sharp and Sweet: Fuji + caramel + crushed sharp cheddar cheese crisps
  • The Movie Theatre: Granny Smith + buttered popcorn + mini M&M’s + crushed malted milk balls
  • Childlike Wonder: Honeycrisp + candy coating (or caramel) + crushed Oreos + sprinkles + sugary cereal of choice + magic shell drizzle

Beyond toppings, you can also play around with format. A caramel apple bar is a cinch to set up; just set out a bunch of mini apples with sticks, pour some melted caramel in a little fondue pot and place little bowls of various toppings out for your guests to roll their apples in.

Another fun arrangement of this treat is the nacho route. Slice up one or more types of apple, arrange them in a single layer on a tray, and go to town with caramel, sweets, drizzles and anything else you think needs to be on there. You could give the slices a quick honey water bath to prevent browning, but these things will get scarfed up so fast they won’t even have a chance to brown.

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