November 5, 2009 by skwishface
This was not my idea. I do not have the chutzpah, the cajones, the balls of steel to attempt candy. Candy is complicated, right? There’s thermometers and delicate timing and techniques handed down for generations and machinery involved. You could burn the sugar and/or yourself! Oh the risk! Oh the horror!
My Mom, though. She laughs in the face of danger. She dives headfirst into culinary experimentation and never looks back. Where I ponder and debate and contemplate all possible consequences and permutations, she just GOES FOR IT. So when she and my sister came to visit for Halloween, and she blithely announced that we would be making Gourmet Candy Apples, I believed her because she has the balls of steel. Though in her case, I’m fairly certain they’re strictly metaphorical.
As with so many of the culinary treats of this world, it turns out that candy apples are really easy to make. Here’s all you need:
Gourmet Candy Apples (cost: minimal, cook time: eternal)
1 bag caramel candies
1 bag chocolate chips
1 dozen or so small Granny Smith apples
1 dozen or so 6-8 inch slender dowel rods
whatever toppings you desire, for the holidays are no time to limit yourself
We made these for Halloween, but really any holiday would be appropriate. Christmas! New Year’s! Tuesday!
Begin by melting your caramels and chocolate. Who needs a fancy double-boiler when you have saucepans and Pyrex bowls?
Note the total lack of thermometers or special machinery. If we were making the candy from scratch, I would be right to fear. But Mom, she knows the limits of we mere mortals and is comfortable with them – she lets the professionals make the candy, and just applies heat. This is just heat-resistant glass bowls sitting on top of a pot of simmering water. All we have to do is stir often and be careful that the bowl is large enough to keep itself from touching to bottom of the pot (thus creating direct heat and defeating the purpose of the indirect heating of this whole double-boiler setup). Bowl touching bottom of pot = candy burned, not melted. True story.
Caramels are remarkably resistant to this method of heating, by the way. We ended up having to microwave them for a few seconds to get them a jump start, and then let them sit on the simmer to keep the goo warm. Because goo is best when it’s warm. Mmmmmmmmmm, goo ….
While your candy is melting, wash your apples and stick them in the freezer for a bit. You want small, tart apples for this. The candy is awfully sweet, so a crisp tangy apple is just the thing to balance it. And a small apple makes the whole finished product alot more approachable and alot less heavy. Cold apples help the candy coating to cool faster and are less likely to fall apart into hysterics when you STAB THEM.
Please don’t use flimsy popsicle sticks for this. The apples, once coated with candy and toppings and all that is wonderful, turn into heavy little cannonballs of joy. You need a sturdier stick to hold them.
I realized, rather belatedly, that we had defied convention by hammering (yes, hammering. cold apples resist impalement and must be forced) the skewers into the stem-end of the apple. Because apples tend to be wider at the stem-end, skewering them from the bottom would provide a more stable base for the finished apple. It’s only logic. But doing it the way we did causes the candy coating to pool at the bottom of the apple and create hunks of candy flavor that beg to be devoured. So …. stability vs. decadence. It’s your call.
We move on!
Whilst the apples chill and the candy warms, prep your toppings.
Please, please believe me when I say that attempting to melt white chocolate is so not worth it. The stuff is picky. It wants certain temperatures and conditions and it does not tell you what those are. We tried. Oh, how we tried. I would’ve taken pictures of the piles of white chocolate we ruined by turning it into grainy inedibleness, but it was too heartbreaking. The whole idea just got too much like the complicated impossible venture that I had feared candy-making to be, and I was flying high on how easy this process had been up to this point. So we shunned the melting of the white chocolate and moved on with our lives.
Now that all is in readiness, it is time to make the magic.
Once dipped, give your apples a gentle spin to get the excess candy off. I know, I know – why would you want to get rid of excess candy? Because if the candy coating is too thick, the toppings will just slide right off the apple instead of sticking to it. We learned this through trial and error. Please take heed, for it is my mission to save you from such trials and errors.
Though honestly, it all tastes good. There are no mistakes here.
We attempted to add toppings to the caramel apples, but ultimately decided that the classic combo of apple and caramel was not to be trifled with.
The chocolate coated apples, though? We trifled all up in that.
Once dipped and coated to your liking, set your apples out on wax paper to cool. Go ahead and put the chocolate coated darlings in the fridge to set up. Don’t do like we did and put the caramel-coated sweets in there. Caramel gets cold, rock hard, and jawbreaking. And then takes forever to warm up to edible room temperature again. Again with the heeding my warnings. Your jaw will thank me (for mine surely does not).
While you’re waiting for your Gourmet Candy Apples to cool to edibleness, you get to clean up the unholy mess you’ve made. Mom and I debated how best to clean up the leftover candy ….
Once all was said and done, we had ourselves a small delicious army of autumnal holiday cheer. By the time we were done, the sun was well into its setting routine, so the lighting got a little strange for pictures. But hey, for a Halloween shot I’d say strange lighting is fairly appropriate.