Monday, 22 October 2012

FOOD FIGHT: Caramel Apple v Candy Apple

Another popular October activity out here in rural USA is apple picking, and then turning those picked apples into tasty treats. Candying fruit is a sensible thing to do post-harvest as it prolongs the life of the fruit through the winter months. I'm sure most people don't have that in mind when they're candying apples these days though. We've made two popular October apple treats and pitted them (sorry) against each other…Just for fun.

Okay, here goes:

Caramel Apple 

Invented: Apparently invented in the 1950s by Kraft Foods rep Dan Walker.
How to Make: We cheated and used a microwavable tub of dipping caramel from the local supermarket. At least it wasn't the pre-sheeted stuff you just wrap over the apple (it exists!).
Result: One tub is supposed to make six apples, but we only successfully covered four. Caramel apples have a very sticky outer layer. They will stick to most everything: baking paper, plate, teeth, other caramel apples, you name it…
Taste: Deliciously creamy, chewy, and a workout for the jaw! Really brings out the juiciness of the apples.

Candy Apple

Originally, this was going to be a contest between the American Candy apple and the British Toffee apple, but we discovered that there's little between them but the name, and er, the color. Candy apples are red (it's just food coloring). Sometimes they contain cinnamon, but we wanted a level competition here and made a basic toffee apple instead.

Invented: Allegedly in 1908 in New Jersey, by William W Kolb. He was a candy maker who made a tasty display of candy-dipped apples for his store.
How to Make: We used Nigel Slater's simple toffee apple recipe here. It works out at 2/3rds cup of caster sugar, and 4/5s cup of water, boiled until a nice golden color. This seemed the simplest recipe, as others call for condensed milk (caramel apples?) or golden syrup which is hard to find and not very cheap here in the USA.

Result: Our apples must have been big ol' beasts because we only got three out of this mix, but it worked like a charm! The apples were beautifully glassy.
Taste: Definitely not dentist-friendly, but what's more satisfying than cracking your teeth on a toffee apple before reaching the crisp fruit inside? Delectably crunchy.

Before we announce the winner, here are some good tips if you're making your own caramel, candy or toffee apples:

1. Oil a baking sheet for storing apples post-dip. You'll find it so much easier to prise them off.
2. Before boiling sugar and water, wet the sides of the pan with water to prevent sugar burning on the side of the pan. But don't worry if it does…
3. To clean everything at the end, fill your pan with water and boil for a few minutes. The sugar will come away from the sides without the need to scrub. If you used other tools, dip them in the boiling water. It works, promise!

Okay, now for the FOOD FIGHT winner…

Verdict: Call me a traditionalist, but it's going to have to be the Candy/Toffee apple. The Caramel apples are utterly delicious, sweet and creamy, but dangerously sticky. Toffee apples are easier to store and wrap up and give away to pesky kids in the neighborhood…if you do that kind of thing.

What do you think? Also what did you grow up on? Most of the Americans I've spoken to remember the red candied apples more than their creamy counterparts. In the UK I grew up with the rustic version, occasionally dipped in chocolate with sprinkles.

blogtoberfest? Remember, it's the Glad Blog Octoberfest all this month, so please send me your own Fall themed posts - I'd love to feature my favorites. Bonus points if you feature pumpkin related activities or products, local Fall Fests, or fun traditions I haven't heard of.


  1. I definitely go for the caramel!! I would actually buy them and hide them from my family. And then sneakily eat them without sharing at all!! Mom of the year.


    1. Keeping that plan in mind for the (far) future!

  2. Ummm i've never tried a candied apple, but I need to! That looks great!

    1. Yeah you do! They are so satisfyingly crunchy!

  3. The caramel apple looks amazing - might try and introduce that to Britain this year!

    Make these next:

    1. I'll put that on the list after the pumpkin spice jello shot recipe from Andrew Cuomo's girlfriend…

  4. These look delicious! You would die of laughter if you saw how my caramel apples turned out this year... disaster!