Using FireBoard to make Candy: Caramel Apples
Caramel and Candied apples are a treat that brings to mind crisp air, hot apple cider, hayrides, and Halloween! Making your own is a relatively simple endeavor given a basic understanding of the different textures and flavors you can get from heating sugar to certain temperatures. From a thickened simple syrup gooey taffy, to hard-rock candy. All of these are products from adding specific amounts of heat to sugar.
Melting Sugar=Making Candy!
John and I brainstormed to come up with the perfect Halloween sugar treat to test out for a blog and landed on caramel and candied apples. As you will see, both require similar ingredients and critical attention to temperature.
Hard Crack-Candy Coated Apples
Less complex than caramel, candied apples require heating melted sugar to the hard crack stage and adding coloring and extract as desired. We opted for a red with neutral sweetness. In hindsight adding a little flavor of the season such as cinnamon would give these beautiful treats a little more character. This red candy coating brought out some stunning depth to the color of our red delicious apples.
For the candy apple syrup gather 2 cups sugar, 1/4 cup corn syrup, 3/4 cup water, and 1 teaspoon of the red gel food coloring. Combine in pot and heat on medium heat until 300 degrees. Once it reaches 300 degrees remove from heat, will carry over another 5 degrees.
Classic Caramel Apples
After experimenting with a couple of different approaches, we found that the wet method of making caramel was more forgiving than the dry method. Read more about the differences between wet and dry caramel making here. This method starts with a mixture of sugar and water, as opposed to just sugar in the pan. Adding water like this gives you more time to examine the colors and flavors as the batch progresses.
For sugar to water ratio, John used 3 cups sugar, and 3/4 cup water in a pan. Put on medium heat until dissolved. Boil this syrup until 310ºF is reached, it should have a medium caramel color. Next, progressively add 2 sticks of salted butter and 1 cup of cream until incorporated. At this point you will be ready to dip your apples!! With some trial and error, we didn’t experience a bitter burnt flavor until 330ºF.
In relation to his previous post about the Maillard Effect John is preparing a blog regarding the science and more importantly, the chemical reaction or transformation sugar undergoes to make a brand new thing like caramel!