Halloween is over and November is here! You know what that means, right? To my American friends who thought “Thanksgiving and all of it’s delicious food,” you’re right, and, yes, it’s also Loki‘s birthday this month, but that’s not what I’m thinking either! There’s another reason to get excited about November! That’s right, folks, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Pt. 1 comes out on November 19!!!
You wouldn’t believe how excited I am! Oh, the sweets I have in store for the occasion! And all of them are straight from the books!! I have been like a mad scientist, trying (and succeeding!) at recreating flavors and ideas for the treats I want to make. But that’s not for a couple of weeks yet. For now, I’m still mourning another Halloween gone by.
No more ghosts and ghouls. No more witches. No more jack o lanterns. And worst of all, no more yummy Halloween goodies. This year was especially sparse for us on Halloween goodies, because our boy is officially “too old” for trick or treating. That’s right, no more “checking” his candy for bad pieces, sorting it with him into what he likes and the “throw away” pile. As if any Halloween candy ever gets thrown away!
I told the hubster Saturday evening that we should find a baby to borrow, so we’d have an excuse to keep trick or treating. Babies are the best for trick or treating…everyone loves them and gives them plenty of treats, but you get to keep it all, and the baby’ll never know! It’s the perfect scam! As it is, we now have to buy our own Halloween candy again. That’s why I decided this year to make some, in the form of candy apples.
I’ve loved candy apples all my life. Not caramel, mind you (although they’re delicious too), but candy apples. The bright red, hard candy coated apples that I only ever got to have when the fair was in town. As I’ve gotten older, though, I’ve come to realize that, if I’m really honest with myself, they’re not very tasty at all. The candy shell is always just a super sweet, flavorless sugar candy. I was inspired to try and make a better tasting candy apple.
Bonus, these treats are great for pretty much everyone, because they are naturally gluten- and dairy-free and they’re vegan, as well!
For my candy apples, I chose to dip a combination of sour green apples and sweet Fuji apples. Personally, I love the combination of sweet and sour that you get when you use Granny Smith apples, but the Fujis were delicious too.
As for my sticks, I had to go with candy sticks that are leftover from a cake pop project because I had trouble finding popsicle sticks. I briefly considered buying a box of popsicles and eating them all so I could use the sticks, but decided that wasn’t really very sanitary…even though it would have been awfully fun!
I would not recommend using these candy sticks if you have any other choice. They went into the apples fine, and they held up throughout the dipping process, but they aren’t as strong as wooden sticks. They tended to bend while trying to eat the apples.
Okay, let’s get to the candy. There’s only four ingredients in these: sugar, corn syrup, water, and flavoring. For the flavoring, I used leftover watermelon oil from my watermelon cupcakes, but I also experimented with various extracts (our favorite being raspberry).
A note on the difference between flavoring oil and extracts. Flavoring oil is a much more concentrated ingredient, so you need much less. Also, since it is oil based, it is easier to use in candy making because it doesn’t cause any spluttering when added to the hot candy. Extracts, however, are cheaper and are usually easier to find. You need more, and it’s a little more dangerous, but there is a wide variety of choices at any grocery store.
Once your candy is made (directions below) and you’re ready to dip these, get the bottom half of the apple coated, then tilt it further into the pan as you roll it, to get the candy all the way to the top.
1. Be patient with the candy while it’s cooking. Don’t stir it or it will take a very long time to reach the proper temperature. It will stall out at around 200 degrees, but be patient, it’ll get there.
2. If using extract, be extremely careful when adding it to the hot candy, as the alcohol and water in it will cause a great deal of spluttering. Use a long wooden spoon to stir it in.
3. Also be extremely careful while dipping the apples. As I’ve said before, there’s nothing like a candy burn. They’re incredibly painful and always scarring.
4. Make sure your apples are room temperature and completely clean (wax free) and dry before dipping them. Any moisture on the apples will cause bubbles to form in the candy. While that’s really not a big deal, it’s pretty ugly looking.
5. Be sure to leave a decent opening of plain apple at the top. That’s the best place to get your first bite in.
Don’t be intimidates by these tips! Candy apples are, by far, one of the easiest treats I’ve ever made!! I know I say a lot of stuff is easy, but I really mean it, and these are certainly no exception! They’re a classic Fall treat that take only minutes to make! And now, with a little flavor added, they’ll take only minutes to disappear too! Plus, you can really spice them up by dipping them in various other goodies (like nuts or mini chocolate chips) before the candy hardens! Enjoy!
Delicious Flavored Candy Apples
Makes about 8
2 cups sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1 1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon candy flavoring oil
1 tablespoon extract of your choice
Food coloring (optional)
In a medium saucepan set over high heat, combine the sugar, corn syrup, and water. Bring to a boil, then continue boiling until the mixture reaches 300 degrees on a candy thermometer. If you don’t have a candy thermometer, keep a bowl of cold water nearby. As the candy cooks, periodically drop a tiny amount into the water. The candy is ready when it turns hard and brittle in the water. Remove the candy from the heat and stir in the flavoring oil or (careful!) extract, as well as the food coloring. Dip apples immediately and place on Silpat mats or parchment paper to set.
Recipe by Darla