Thursday, December 22, 2016

Candy Paint Dipped Apples

Like many people, I've always associated apples with the Fall. Thanksgiving was never without an apple pie to go alongside the traditional pumpkin, and it was only in October that indulging in apple fritters or a bowl of thick, chunky applesauce hot from the pot seemed right. At the mall, there would always be one or two shops that boasted the brightly coloured candied apples, dolled up to the nines with nuts or chocolate, but again, it looked out of place with the swimwear or the skis. On the rare occasion that we would get to buy one (usually from the Fall fair, where the prices were more reasonable than the $7 at the shop), the candy shell was never my cup of tea. If there was caramel, even plain, that was what my allowance would be invested in.

Candy Paint Dipped Apple

I haven't made candied apples in a dog's age, and frankly, the thought of ever doing them again never crossed my mind. After all, there are cookies, fudge and Toast Toppers to delve into! But when my co-teacher mentioned making these in class as our "holiday gift" for the kids, I couldn't see why not. Hard candy (which is all the shell really is) is cheap and fairly simple to make, easily coloured and sets up fast, meaning we could make them in the morning and they'd be ready and packed up at the end of the day. While checking the recipe (I still couldn't believe it was only hard-crack sugar) I came across a unique way of tinting the candy at Rose Bakes, where the mixture is made opaque with white food colouring and tinted with a bottle of gel dye. They looked so incredible I couldn't wait to try it out - and while the white dye is expensive, it is equally impressive and I would heartily recommend it. The volume of candy meant the bright red colouring I bought was significantly diluted, giving my baby apples a "pastel paint" appearance. The kids loved the Barbie pink, but if I wanted "true red" I would undoubtedly need a minimum of two jars of gel colour. Next Halloween I might try straight black - since it's dark it might not need the extra help in the opacity department.

Another consideration is the variety of apple you choose. I strongly suggest a tart apple (i.e. Granny Smith or Russett) so that the combination of the sweet-sweet sugar and tangy fruit is in perfect balance. Our "classroom" apples were Galas (definitely one of my least favourite apples) - they are fairly sweet, not that the kids minded at all - but if I was making them for myself I would have added a sour flavour to the candy instead (lime with a dash of citric acid maybe, or even classic sour apple!). Of course, you can go wild with the flavour options available these days, even in our relatively small bakery supply store a couple town over they have a cabinet of LorAnn candy and chocolate flavours, most of which would work wonderfully with the fruit. While the apples were kept au naturale for the kids, I did pick up some of the Red Velvet Emulsion and Anise Oil this year for holiday baking and candy-making, and I bet the cinnamon would be amazing here, especially with a sweet apple.

Regardless of the colour and flavour you choose, these are definite showstoppers on the holiday table, and make great parting gifts for kids. Just remember not to bite the rock-hard candy - unless you want broken teeth! (Although I guess then you could ask Santa for "your two front teeth", but I digress)

Shared with Gluten Free Fridays #226

Candy Paint Dipped Apples (slightly modified and scaled from Rose Bakes)
Makes 30 (can be halved)
30 small apples (ideally granny smith or honeycrisp), washed, dried and stemmed
6 cups sugar
1 cup white corn syrup
1 1/2 cups water
1 (2-oz) bottle white food colouring (i.e. Wilton)
1 - 2 oz gel food colouring (1 oz makes a more pastel colour)
  1. Line two cookie sheets with parchment and push a chopstick into the "stem" end of each apple. Set aside.
  2. In a heavy bottomed pot, combine the sugar, corn syrup, water, and food colourings.
  3. Place over medium-high heat and let the mixture come to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat to a low boil and let the candy cook, without stirring, until it reaches 302°F.
  5. Remove from the heat and quickly (but carefully!) dip the apples in the sugar, letting excess drip off for a few seconds before placing on parchment.
  6. Cool completely before enjoying.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 238.8
Total Fat: 0.2 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 12.9 mg
Total Carbs: 63.2 g
Dietary Fiber: 2.5 g
Protein: 0.3 g