Recently I was asked to make toffee apples.
When was the last time you actually ate a toffee apple? I don’t think I’ve had one since I was a child, but I still feel that I know them like I had one yesterday.
That hard, smooth shell and the weightiness of the coated apple held on a fine stick. Then there’s that first bite into it. You almost wonder if your teeth will get through the armour. But they do. And the surprise is that after the cracking toffee, the apple, usually so crunchy, feels almost soft in contrast.
As a child, I don’t think I questioned why they had shiny red sugar coatings, especially as the apples were generally green. But like all children, the attraction of sugar and artificial colour always worked.
These ones don’t need to rely on fake colourings to give them appeal but the sweetness is still there. Nowdays it’s about finding the tastiest variety of apple and avoiding food colouring.
I chose Herefordshire Russets (mainly because they taste delicious) but also for their size. They are a smaller variety and that way, the proportion of toffee to apple is better.
6 small apples (Hereford Russets work very well if you can find them)
225g Demerara sugar
1tsp of good white wine vinegar
1tbsp golden syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
Wash the apples and remove the stalks. Skewer each apple with a wooden stick, pushed down through the core.
Lightly oil a baking tray.
Dissolve the sugar and water together in a pan over a moderate heat. When dissolved, add the vinegar, syrup and butter. Bring the mixture to the boil and boil rapidly for about 8-10 minutes. If you have a jam thermometer, the temperature when it has reached hard-crack stage will be 140degreesC. But otherwise, a good way to test it is by putting a drop in a glass of cold water, if it hardens to a ball it is ready, if it is still soft and tacky, it needs longer. Be careful not to burn the mixture as it will taste very bitter.
When it is ready, remove from the heat and add the vanilla. Dip each apple into the toffee using the stick and twist around to cover completely. Allow the excess to drip off before placing on the oiled tray to cool and harden.
They will be ready to eat in just a matter of minutes.