Toffee apples, also known as candy apples in North America, probably date from the late 19th century. While the toffee or candy coating varies throughout the world, toffee apples have a similar appearance - red or green apples are covered in a hard sugar candy coating, that is colored red.
Commonly a stick is inserted into the core of the apple to make them easier to eat. The most common 'toffee' or 'candy' is a hard, shiny, brittle coating of toffee, tinted red. The sugar syrup, sometimes with added butter, is heated to the 'brittle crack' stage before the apple is dipped into it coating the apple with syrup which hardens as it cools. Toffee apples are a common treat at school fetes, farmer markets, fairs and at events such as Guy Fawkes Night in Britain and Halloween in North America. Everyone has enjoyed them in the past. The good news is that
they are easy to make at home using this guide and the recipes shown below.
The process of coating various fruits in sugar syrup was developed in ancient times. Both sugar and honey were commonly used as preserving agents. Both toffee and caramel were made early in the 18th century. Toffee Apples (Candy Apples) were probably first made in the late 19th century.
Firstly you need to remove the wax coating that is present on most bought apples. Place the apples in a large bowl, pour in boiling water to cover the apple. After about 30 seconds remove the apples, dry and clean. Cut out any tiny blemishes and remove the stalks. Push a wooden skewer, lolly stick or half a wooden chopstick into the core of each apple so the end stays inside. Lay a sheet of baking paper on your kitchen bench near the stove.
To make the toffee pour the sugar into a saucepan. Add 100ml water and set over a medium heat. Heat for about 5 minutes until the sugar dissolves, and then add the golden syrup and vinegar. Insert a candy, sweet or sugar thermometer in the saucepan and heat to 140 degrees C (285 degrees F) , which is the 'hard crack' stage.
If you don't have a candy or kitchen thermometer, you can try the toffee to test for brittleness as it is heating to test when it reaches the right stage. Using a spoon, by pouring a little toffee into a bowl of cold water. When it is ready it should harden instantly and be easy to break and brittle when cooled and removed from the water. If the test toffee is still soft, continue to heat it.
Switch the hotplate to low. Working carefully and quickly, pick up each apple using the stick and dip it into the toffee. Rotate each apple in the hot toffee until fully covered, drain for a few seconds and then place on the baking paper, or greased baking dish to harden, with the sticks facing up and vertical. For large batches you may need to reheat the toffee if the temperature drops and it starts to feel viscous and thick.
Leave the toffee to cool before eating, stored in a dry place and eat within a couple of days. If you want to keep them for several days or dress them up, wrap the toffee apples in cellophane and tie with a ribbon.
There are a many of variations in the toffee ingredients. These include the amount of butter and the type of sugar. Molasses can also be used. Tiny variations in temperature produce differences in the texture of the toffee from sticky and soft, to brittle and hard.
One interesting variation is called 'cinder toffee', sponge toffee or honeycomb toffee. This toffee has fine bubbles in it like honeycomb. The bubbles are made by including vinegar and baking soda in the mixture. In New Zealand, this honeycomb toffee is called 'hokey pokey'.
You can add a base of white or brown chocolate to the finished toffee apples
Simply melt some chocolate in a pan suspended over a simmering pot of water. Dip the bottom half of each apple in chocolate, turning to coat evenly. Drain off excess and place each coated apple onto a sheet of baking paper or a greased baking sheet. You can dip the chocolate into chopped nuts for added taste. Refrigerate until chocolate is set.