Halloween and Bonfire Night just aren't complete without traditional toffee apples loved by both little and big kids. Rather than buy the highly coloured bright red versions from the supermarket why not try making your own this autumn? When it comes to any kind of hot sugar work the tricky bit is getting your boiling temperature right. Whether you're looking for thread, soft ball, firm ball or soft crack, things can easily turn to burnt sugar if you're not careful. Time for my trusty Thermapen to once again come into it's own. It's an absolute kitchen essential as far as I'm concerned. British made, the Thermapen is probably the worlds fastest reading kitchen thermometer. The true temperature of a foodstuff can be tested in just three seconds. In addition to ensuring that the toffee on your apple will be crunchy it will also take the guesswork out of other areas of your cooking. Steak will be perfect, your fudge, will set, your jam won't run off your toast, your chocolate will be shiny and tempered and your BBQ won't give anyone an upset tummy.
For toffee apples the magic number you're looking for is 150c which is the hard crack stage. The Thermapen takes only 3 seconds to give an accurate reading and it's temperature display automatically rotates through 360 degrees so you can see it at any angle. There's even a back light which is triggered in dim light whilst a motion-sensing sleep mode automatically turns on/off when set down or picked up. No wonder it's one of my most regularly used and invaluable pieces of kitchen kit. I recently gave my Mum one as I couldn't cope cooking without it when visiting her!
When it comes to colour the traditional toffee or candy apple is bright red from goodness knows what food colouring. I used Jazz apples which are a wonderful mix of red and green and their colour shines through from the light caramel colour of the 'toffee'. The variety is a cross between the UK's two biggest sellers – the Royal Gala and the Braeburn. I also experimented in adding colour by way of beetroot powder but had mixed success, as whilst it looked brilliant red at the start of cooking it turned to a rather dark brown as the mixture came up to temperature. So my recommendation would be to avoid any artificial colour in your toffee and go for a beautiful coloured fruit instead.
Traditional Homemade Toffee Apples
As a child I always thought that a toffee apple was the perfect sweet, as once you'd eaten the toffee the apple would clean your teeth!
6 Apples (I used Jazz Apples)
400g Caster Sugar
1 Tsp Vinegar
50g Salted Butter
4 Tbsp Golden Syrup
You will also need
6 lolly sticks
Thermapen digital food thermometer
Wash and dry the apples. Remove any stalks and use a skewer to make a hole from the stalk end, then securely push in a lolly stick.
Set the apples aside on a baking tray topped with greaseproof paper or a reusable non-stick liner.
Place the sugar, vinegar, butter, water, and syrup in a heavy based pan and gently dissolve over a low heat.
Turn up the heat and boil WITHOUT STIRRING (otherwise the sugar may crystallise) until the mixture reaches a reading of 150°C on a Thermapen thermometer.
TIP - whilst boiling have a small bowl of cold water and a pastry brush to had and use the wet brush to wash down any stray sugar from the sides of the pan.
Remove the pan from the heat and let the bubbles die down a little.
Tilt the pan and carefully dip the apples one at a time into the toffee, twirling them to ensure they are fully covered.
Let any excess toffee drop off before placing them back the lined baking tray.
Once set store in a cool place - not the fridge - and eat within 48 hours (otherwise the toffee will start to soften and liquify.
Do take a peek at the three recipes I've previously developed in conjunction with Thermapen which highlight its versatility:
Disclosure : This is a commissioned recipe for Electronic Temperature Instruments Ltd As always, all views expressed are my own.
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