In 1908, candy maker William Kolb was experimenting with new recipes in his Newark, NJ shop. On a whim, he dipped whole apples into a cinnamon flavored candy boiling on the stove. The next day the sweet, hard-shelled apples were displayed in his shop window and at a nickel a pop, sold out before the morning was over.
The candy apple became his signature confection and before long he was selling thousands of the novel treats each year.
Not surprisingly, imitators caught on to the candy apple’s success and shops along the Jersey shore and eventually around the world were showcasing the impossibly red candy apple.
Here in the states they are called candy or jelly apples. In England they are known as toffee apples and the French refer to them as pommes d’amour or “apples of love.”
Associated with different holidays around the world (Halloween in the U.S., Christmas in Germany, Guy Fawkes Day in the U.K. and Independence Day in Israel), the candy apple has grown to become a seasonal icon, although often overshadowed by the popularity of the caramel apple (as least here in America).
Making candy apples is a lot of fun. Apples are skewered with a stick, dipped in sugar boiled to candy stage, and then may be rolled in whatever coating appeals to your sweet tooth. Consider coconut, crushed hard toffee, nuts or sprinkles.
A word on the stick. Craft (popsicle) sticks are often used, but any stick will do. Dowels may be cut to length, bamboo skewers are fine, or even cuttings from the apple tree itself can be used as a stylish handle. We elected to finally make use of some of the numerous chopsticks we have accumulated from years of Chinese take-out.
This fall tradition is as sweet as they come, but it is also a visual stunner. They don’t paint cars candy apple red for nothing. Buckle up.
- 6 to 8 firm apples (depending on size)
- 2 c sugar
- ¾ c brown sugar
- 1 1/4 c light corn syrup
- 1 1/2 c water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 15-20 drops food coloring (red is traditional, but any color will do)
- Toppings as desired (crushed nuts, sprinkles, coconut, etc)
- Remove apple stems and insert a wooden stick into the core of each apple.
- Combine sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil at medium heat.
- Cover saucepan and continue to boil until a temperature of 290 – 300 degrees is reached (about 15 minutes).
- Remove from heat and stir in vanilla, cinnamon and food coloring.
- Hold saucepan at an angle and turn apples in candy to coat evenly, allowing excess to drip back into pot (move quickly, as the candy is quick to harden).
- Roll apples in toppings (if desired) and place on wax paper or a greased baking sheet to cool.