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How to make candy apples: Our baking expert shares mess-less tips

Expertly reviewed by Andrea Boudewijn
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Tips on how to make this sweet fall treat

With the end of summer comes apple harvesting season, and numerous ways to serve this crisp and delicious fruit. But there’s nothing quite as satisfying as turning apples into sweet treats by adding a mouthwatering glaze. While Halloween candy apples are a classic favorite, you can make this treat any time of the year.

While traditional candy apples are made with a sugary coating, there are other ways to create this apple-based delicacy including using classic caramel or decadent chocolate glazes. We turned to our cooking and baking expert, Cordon Bleu-trained pastry chef Andrea Boudewijn, to find out more and get her recommendations for items needed to make homemade candy apples.

Shop this article: Escali Candy/Deep Fry Thermometer, Cuisinart Chef’s Classic 4-quart Nonstick Hard Anodized Sauce Pan and the Nordic Ware Three-piece Baker’s Delight Sheet Pan Set

What you’ll need to make candy apples

From the apples to the sticks, there are just a few key things you’ll need to make deliciously coated apples. Boudewijn weighed in on selecting these items, as well as advice for choosing a tasty glaze.

Choose your apples

Numerous types of apples are in-season when autumn rolls around, so you have a nice selection to choose from when making candy apples. The type you choose is a matter of preference. However, the sweetness of the caramel, chocolate, sugar or other coating contrasts nicely with a semisweet or tart apple, our expert suggested. “I go for Fuji (sweeter), Granny Smith (tart), Gala (mild), and McIntosh (mildly sweet) apples,” Boudewijn said. “Experiment with some of your locally available varieties — I prefer a mild tartness to mine.”

Decide how you’ll make candy apples

Whether you prefer caramel, chocolate or sugarcoated apples, there are countless candy apple recipe options available online to try.

Boudewijn said that caramel candy apples are the most popular in the U.S. “I love to make my own salted caramel. Let it cool to about 190 degrees, then dip into it. I find the caramel discs available at supermarkets don't soften properly to wrap well around the apple. They're frequently too small and tend to drape funny around the edge.”

Chocolate-covered apples are also a favorite, she added. “I also love to dip apples in chocolate twice, then roll one side of the apple in finely chopped peanuts. Yum!”

Classic sugar coatings are also tasty and are typically made with cinnamon. This type of glaze is more challenging to work with, however. “I don't dip in hard sugar coatings as I've seen elsewhere. The hard sugar is pretty but can shatter in the mouth and create sharp edges. Also, it's pretty much un-storable — sugar is absorbent, and if put in the fridge it absorbs humidity, causing it to melt and dissolve,” Boudewijn said.

Don’t forget the sticks 

Different items can be used as sticks for candy apples. Boudewijn suggested four readily available types:

  • Popsicle sticks
  • Cake pop sticks. “These sometimes have a nice pointy end for easy insertion into an apple,” Boudewijn said. “I found some sticks made of wood, and they're gorgeous in candied apples.”
  • Chopsticks. “They're a little long for the job, but they'll do,” she said.
  • Wooden skewers are OK, but not optimal. “They lack strength. If they’re made with bamboo, they can splinter leaving wood bits inside the apple or in tiny hands,” Boudewijn said. “If I have to use skewers, I group three for strength and wrap them in Washi tape to create one strong, pretty stick.”

Tips for making the best candy apples

In addition to selecting fresh apples and making your sweet concoction, there are a few steps you can take for successful results.

Boudewijn advised starting with clean apples. “Wash store-bought apples in hot water for five minutes to remove the waxy coating and dry the apples completely,” she said. “This helps the caramel or other coating stick to the apples.” 

You’ll get the best result when you use room-temperature apples as opposed to those with a chill, she continued. “Logically you'd think chilling them would harden the coating faster, which it does, but the difference in temperature between the apple and the warm coating can cause the coating to 'sweat,' creating problems. If you’re dipping your apple in chocolate, it can cause white bloom streaks in the chocolate and cause it to crack.” 

Boudewijn also recommended using “coating” chocolate, if that’s your preferred coating. “It's made to reduce blooming and has great flavor. I'd recommend buying either Callebaut or Valrhona brands.”  

The trick to adding chopped nuts begins with the way you prepare them. “If dipping in nuts, chop them with a chef's knife rather than using a food processor. Nut dust isn't what you want, just finely chopped nuts,” our expert said. “I chop mine, then sift out the very small dusty bits for a good rocky nut coating.”

When serving candy apples to guests, Boudewijn added, it’s important to alert guests if you use nuts in case anyone has a nut allergy. 

It can be tricky working with apples once they have been dipped in a sweet coating, so Boudewijn recommends using parchment paper. “Wax paper makes a sticky mess, and an oiled tray facilitates the growth of a 'foot' at the base of the apple,” she said.

Once prepared, candy apples can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Best items for making candy apples

Concord Foods Candy Apple Kit

One of the easiest ways to make this delicious treat is to purchase a candy apple kit. The kit comes with candy apple mix and 10 sticks. It's also available as a 20-stick kit that includes ingredients for both candy apples and caramel apples.

Escali Candy/Deep Fry Thermometer

This well-made thermometer can handle cooking temperatures up to 500 degrees. It has a 5.5-inch probe and an adjustable temperature marker to guide you as you cook.

Cuisinart Chef’s Classic 4-quart Nonstick Hard Anodized Sauce Pan

Boudewijn recommends a 4-quart sauce pan for preparing the candy glaze for apples. The Chef’s Classic by Cuisinart is ideal for cooking sugary ingredients thanks to the nonstick surface. It’s backed by a limited lifetime warranty to protect your investment.

Nordic Ware Three-piece Baker’s Delight Sheet Pan Set

You’ll need baking sheet pans to place your apples to cool once you’ve dipped them in the sweet coating. This set includes three pans of different sizes. Each is constructed of durable aluminum that’s built to last.

Reynolds Kitchens Unbleached Parchment Paper

Made by a top brand, this quality parchment paper has many uses in the kitchen, including lining pans for apples dipped in chocolate, caramel or sugar glaze.

Ktojoy Popsicle Sticks

Popsicle sticks are great for making candy apples, according to our expert. This pack includes 200 sticks made of natural wood with a smooth finish.

Sweet Creations Reusable Plastic Cake Pop Sticks

You can also use cake pop sticks for candy apples, like this pack of 100 food-grade plastic sticks that can be washed and reused.

Lakingo 8-inch Bamboo Skewers

These skewers have pointed tips, which makes them easy to push into apples. Although made of bamboo, they are reasonably durable and sustainable. The pack includes 100 sticks.

Antner Reusable Wooden Chopsticks

Chopsticks like these five pairs can be used for candy apples. Made of strong beech wood, they are dishwasher-safe and reusable.

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Jennifer Manfrin writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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