This recipe was my attempt to reclaim candy apples. As a kid, I was attracted to the sheen of these fall treats, but the actual eating experience
always fell flat—and was extremely sticky. I've found by using smaller, high-quality apples (I used Empires and Spitzenbergs to great success), I could turn this autumnal confection into something kids and adults alike want to eat.
I added cinnamon oil and a dash of cayenne pepper into the candy mixture and rolled the bottom of the apples in toasted pepitas, but if you want to keep it simple, feel free to omit either or both. And if you want a classic ruby-hued candy apple, feel free to add in some red food coloring; no judgment. —Catherine Lamb
small apples (I used Empire and Spitzenberg)
1 1/2 cups
light corn syrup
cinnamon oil (optional)
cayenne pepper (optional)
red food coloring, if desired
toasted pepitas, for dipping
wooden chopsticks, narrow wooden dowels, or wooden craft sticks
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, then butter it thoroughly (or spray with non-stick spray). This will keep the candied apples from sticking. Wash and dry apples, then insert a wooden chopstick or dowel into the stem end, halfway into the apple. If using pepitas, spread them in an even layer onto a small plate and keep near the stove.
In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, water, and corn syrup. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally until sugar dissolves. Once it bubbles, reduce heat to medium-high and attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pot. Boil until the temperature reaches 300°F (the hard crack stage); it should take around 15 to 20 minutes.
Immediately take the mixture off the heat and stir in the cinnamon oil and cayenne pepper, if desired. (This is also where you would add a few drops of red food coloring if you're into that.) Working quicky, angle the saucepan towards you and dip each apple into the syrup, turning to coat. Immediately take apples and stamp them into the pepitas, rolling the bottom back and forth to get the seeds to stick. Transfer onto the pre-greased baking sheet and allow to cool.