- In a heavy-bottomed saucepan mix together sugar, water, corn syrup, food coloring and extract (if using). The mixture will be bright red.
- Set up your candy thermometer so that the tip is in the mixture and is not touching the bottom of the pot. Put it over high heat and bring it to a boil. Leave it bubbling on high until it gets to be between 300ºF and 310ºF. It will take around 20 minutes but keep your eye on it. It gets really fast at the end.*
- While the sugar mixture is coming to temperature, line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray it with baking spray. Wash and dry your apples. Stick the sticks down into the tops of the apples. You want to get a good ways in. If your sticks are long, go all the way but not through the other end. If they’re shorter, getting halfway into the apple is good enough.
- For sparkly apple bottoms, mix together 1/4 cup demerara sugar and 1 teaspoon pumpkin spice (you can leave out the pumpkin spice if you want. What’s crucial is the sugar). Sprinkle the sugar mixture onto your prepared pan.
- When your candy mixture is at 310ºF, take it of the heat. Tilt your pot to the side and hold the apples by the stick to roll them one at a time in the mixture. Be careful because that sugar syrup is very hot. After rolling the apple around, hold it up over the saucepan and shake it gently to let some excess syrup drip off. Put the apples on your prepared pan to harden. They’ll be hard and ready to eat within 10 minutes.
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*The thing that makes candy apples tricky is having the right thickness for your candy syrup when you’re rolling the apples in it. One thing you can do is to heat a kettle of water and shortly before you start dipping your apples, pour the hot water into a large bowl. If your syrup is too thin and isn’t adhering to the apples, just wait a moment and try again. As the syrup cools slightly, it thickens. On the other hand, if your syrup is thickening too quickly or start to get too thick, dip the bottom of the pot into the hot water, being careful not to get any water into the candy. You just want to warm the pot a bit to warm the syrup and thin it a bit.