Nothing has ever made me feel more like one of the witches in Macbeth than when I was boiling this pot of sugary red goodness. If you’re brave, bite right into an apple once the candy has cooled, but I like to slice them up for serving.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; butter parchment, and set aside. In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine sugar, 3/4 cup water, corn syrup, and food coloring, if using. Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce heat to medium-high. Insert candy thermometer and continue to boil until temperature reaches between 300° and 310° (hard crack stage), about 20 minutes.
Insert a wooden stick into the top of each apple, pushing about halfway through; set aside. When mixture reaches temperature, immediately remove from heat. Working quickly, dip apples in sugar mixture until completely coated. Transfer to prepared baking sheet; allow to cool.
Rebecca Firkser is a freelance food writer and recipe developer. Her work has appeared in a number of publications, among them Food52, TASTE, Edible Manhattan, Extra Crispy, The Strategist, and Bon Appetit's Healthyish. She contributed recipes and words to the book "Breakfast: The Most Important Book About the Best Meal of the Day." Once upon a time, she studied theatre design and art history at Smith College, so if you need a last-minute avocado costume or want to talk about Wayne Thiebaud's cakes, she's your girl.