This is one of my favourite times of the year. I love that as the first chilly nights roll in the traditions and parties begin and you get to spend the eight weeks until New Years enjoying spooky dressing up, fireworks, mulling every drink in sight and of course all things Christmassy. The clocks changed in England at the weekend, making it dark before 5 now. I’ve already strung up a few fairy lights around the flat to make it feel cosy and I overheard Dan telling his Mum on the phone that he’s feeling pretty festive.
My somewhat embarrassing fear of all things horror makes me far more of a Guy Fawkes person than a halloween one. Standing in a muddy field wrapped up in as many layers as possible, drinking mulled cider and watching fireworks is one of the best feelings in the world.
When I was a small child, whenever we went to any kind of fair or food stall I would always get a toffee apple. The appeal wore off after a few sticky soft supermarket imitations, and they eventually slipped my mind completely. I tried one of these at the photoshoot I made them for and I was immediately transported back to being 5 again surrounded by bright lights, the sounds of the popcorn machine and the sweet smell of the candy floss machine. The thin layer of toffee audibly shatters in your mouth with every bite as apple juice drips down your chin. I forwent the artificial cherry red food dye in favour of letting the beautiful tones of the apple shine through, for a slightly more mature version.
Toffee apples are surprisingly simple to make as long as you remember to only stir the sugar at the beginning, I have ruined more than one batch in the past by stirring the pot as the sugar is caramelising causing it to crystalise. Personally I wouldn’t attempt this recipe without a good thermometer. I’ve tried the traditional in the past which works really well but I much prefer this digital thermometer. Not only is it more accurate and you can set an alarm to go off when it’s at the right temperature, it is also thinner and therefore less likely to fall over. And in the unlikely chance that it does fall and break it won’t leak dangerous chemicals over you and your kitchen.
The jury is still out about whether you should wrap the end of foraged sticks in non stick baking parchment before inserting them into the apple. Some people prefer it as it is more hygienic as it prevents the stick from touching the toffee apple. Personally I think it looks really pretty but is unnecessary as the stick only touches the inside of the core which you don’t eat any way.
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Makes 8 small Recipe from Lyles Golden Syrup Always use a silver based saucepan for making caramel as it allows you to see the colour or the sugar changing more clearly which gives you more control. I’ve found the best way to clean the saucepan after making this is too pur a full kettle of water into the pan and bring to the boil on the hob. This quickly dissolves any leftover toffee and makes washing it up a lot easier.
8 small apples - I used braeburn
400g golden caster sugar
4 tbsp golden syrup
50g unsalted butter
- Place the apples in a large bowl and pour over a full kettle of boiling water. Quickly remove the apples and place onto a drying rack. Using kitchen roll buff the apples until dry. This is to remove any wax coating from the apples which will help the toffee to stick.
- Line a baking tray with non stick baking parchment. Remove any stalks form the apples then press a foraged stick or lolly pop stick into where the stalk was making sure that it is secure. You don’t want the apples to fall off when you dip it in the caramel.
- Tip the caster sugar and water into a large heavy based pan and stir over a low heat until the sugar has completely dissolved which takes 5 minutes.
- Add the golden syrup and butter to the pan and stir until melted and completely mixed in. Increase the temperature of the hob and bring the mixture to a boil without stirring. Stirring can cause the sugar to crystalise which would ruin the batch. Using a thermometer bring the mixture up to 149-154C (the hard crack stage).
- Allow the mixture to cool a little so the bubbles subside slightly, then carefully tilt the pan to one side and swirl the apples in the toffee one by one, allowing any excess to drip off the apple back into the pan before placing on the lined baking tray.
- If the toffee becomes too hard to work with quickly reheat the toffee to remelt it.
- Store the apples in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 24 hours, but I think they taste best a few minutes after dipping in the caramel once they have completely cooled and have the best crunch.