Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Toffee Apples

Growing up in Pietermaritzburg, as the month of May advanced and the days became shorter and chillier, it meant "Royal Agricultural Show" time was approaching.
We were never very interested in the real reason for the show, but the fair that tagged along with the tractors and the cows was one of that sleepy town's annual highlights for us as kids. The show grounds were on our way to school, and we'd watch the daily progress of the fair's construction with mounting excitement.
It meant rides on the "Big Wheel" (or the "Looping Star" for the more daring), helium balloons, candy floss and toffee apples.
These days, although the show goes on, the fair is no more. Too much of the show-grounds have been taken over by offices and car dealerships.

So, in honour of all those fair days of youth, here are some toffee apples...

Toffee Apples:

4 cups white sugar
1 cup water
2 Tbs white wine vinegar
4 Tbs (60g) butter
2 Tbs golden syrup
Red food coloring
12-14 small-medium sized apples (Granny Smith or Pink Lady variety - for a good crunch!)

Prepare the apples-
Wash them in hot water to remove any waxy coating; dry thoroughly.
Remove the stalk, and push a wooden skewer or lolly stick into the stalk end of each apple.

Make the syrup-
Place all the ingredients except the food coloring and apples, into a medium-sized heavy-based saucepan.
Stir continuously over medium-high heat until the sugar has dissolved. Wash down any sugar crystals on the sides of the saucepan with a damp pastry brush.
Bring the mixture to the boil. Add the food coloring. Stop stirring.
Let the mixture boil gently until it reaches 140'C on a candy thermometer. (Usually 10-15 minutes).
If you aren't using a thermometer, pour a teaspoon of syrup into a bowl of cold water, it should harden instantly, and when removed from the water be brittle and break easily. If it is still soft and sticky, it is not ready.  

Once the syrup is ready, remove the saucepan from the stove. (You can place it in a basin of hot water to prevent the syrup from setting too quickly.)
Wait for all the bubbles to settle.
Working quickly, tilt the saucepan to the side and dip and twist each apple in the syrup. Tap off a little of the excess syrup. Place on the prepared baking tray and leave to set.

NB: Be careful - sugar syrup is extremely hot (140'C!).

Store the toffee apples individually wrapped in cellophane.