My favourite kind of apple – green or red, sweet or sour, they all taste better wrapped in a golden shell of crunchy, caramelised sugar. Toffee apples are not only nice to nibble on as you enjoy Halloween at home, or watch fireworks on TV, they’re also fun to make. Just make sure you let them cool before tucking in.
Prep 15 min
Cook 10 min
4 lolly sticks (or wooden skewers or forks)
200g caster or granulated sugar
2 tbsp golden syrup
1 tsp vinegar or lemon juice
1 pinch salt (optional)
Optional toppings, see step 4
1 First, choose your apples
The kind of apple you use is up to you – I like tangy varieties such as granny smith, boskoop rouge or blenheim orange, because they stand up well to the sugary sweetness of the toffee, but any sort will work. Bear in mind, though, that the amount of toffee in this recipe is designed to cover four medium fruit, so you may need to adjust it depending on the size of your apples (that said, any excess toffee can always be made into cinder toffee – see step 9).
2 Wash and dry the fruit
If the apples look like they’ve been waxed (which most shiny supermarket ones are; scrape them with a fingernail, if you’re not sure), give them a good scrub with hot water to remove as much of it as possible, then dry them thoroughly. Wax, or moisture, will stop the toffee sticking as well as it should, so it’s well worth the bother.
3 Destalk, then poke in the sticks
Remove the stalks from the apples, then push the lolly sticks into the indentation where they used to be, taking care not to push them all the way through the fruit. If this is hard work, make the hole a bit bigger with a metal skewer first. If you don’t have any sticks or skewers, you could use a fork or even a teaspoon instead.
4 Prep your toppings
Take a flat tray that’s large enough to hold all the apples without touching, line it with greaseproof paper or a silicone mat, and put this near the hob along with bowls of your chosen toppings – flaked almonds or finely chopped hazelnuts or peanuts, desiccated coconut, biscuit crumbs, hundreds and thousands, silver balls or even mild chilli flakes. Chocolate is not a good idea, though, because it will just melt off the hot toffee and slide off.
5 The toffee will be hot, so take precautions
Before you begin, I’d strongly advise putting on an apron, and to wear something with long sleeves. Molten sugar gets extremely hot and can cause nasty burns, so avoid getting too close to the pan (and never, ever put your face near it, or dip a finger into the mixture to taste it). And boil the kettle, ready to clean the pan once you’ve finished.
6 Slowly melt the sugar
You can use most types of sugar to make toffee, but white sugar is the easiest to use because the colour change is much more obvious. Put the sugar in a medium saucepan, preferably a silver one for the same reason, add the syrup and three tablespoons of cold water, and put over a medium-low heat. Cook, stirring gently and occasionally, until the sugar dissolves.
7 Add the acid
Add the vinegar or lemon juice – this isn’t essential, but it will stop the sugar crystallising, so it’s helpful for a smooth, glassy finish. I also add a pinch of salt at this stage, but that’s very much a matter of taste. Bring to a simmer – don’t be tempted to stir it, or to turn up the heat.
8 And cook to caramelise
Cook the sugar until it reaches 150C on a sugar thermometer – if you don’t have one, test by dipping in a teaspoon and dropping a little of the toffee mixture into a glass of cold water. If it hardens immediately, and you can snap it easily, it’s ready; if it’s still a bit soft and tacky, keep cooking.
9 Coat the apples, then cool
Once the toffee is ready, turn down the heat, quickly dip each apple into the toffee pan to coat (ydo this twice, if you want a really thick layer), sprinkle over any toppings and place on the tray to cool.
Make any leftovers into cinder toffee by whisking a half-teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda into the pan, pour the mix into another lined tray and leave to cool and set.