Honey Candy Apples

As another Halloween rolls around and I am faced with the specter of a 5 year old crazy with sugar and the excitement that comes from anticipated treasure, I am again reminded of my own early childhood. I feel like I was just coming into my trick or treat years when suddenly parents became aware of the "dangers" of strangers giving their children treats. 


Homemade cookies, candy coated pretzels and snack mixes started disappearing and I was left with nothing but a popcorn ball which my parents questioned the validity of. I'm sure, as a kid, I must have thought these treats a bit of a rip off anyway. My goal was to be able to recreate the candy section at the local store in my bedroom. Nonetheless, I try and ignore that fact in order to let a more ideal nostalgia creep in. Plus, I would much rather bake a batch of cookies than have to go and buy sacks of candy to hand out. 


As I was going through my annual nostalgia trip, the stories about my Halloween booty getting more and more grandiose, I had a thought. I can have any of those old treats from the past, whether real or fictional. I simply won't give them away. As it is, we make treats for Kadin and his friends for when they come over. Boring and somewhat healthy things like fruit leather or trail mix. I know, how embarrassing! 


Well, this year, I found myself thinking about candy apples. I'm not sure why. I don't even know if I've ever had one, but when I was at the very last day of the farmers market this past weekend, I found myself staring at the apples and that was that. From the folks at Sweetland Orchard, I bought some tart and crispy apples, the best to pair with a sweet candy coating. I ended up with a mix of Prairie Spy, Bonnie Best and Regent apples.


Now is when I reveal my ignorance. I've never made candy coating and I don't even have a candy thermometer. Plus, I'm going to throw in a wild card -- honey. It seems to me that honey is a great match for apples and hopefully it will not mess with the candy coatings ability to harden on the apple. 


What I have learned is that you need good, fresh apples and that tart ones are the best. If you buy them at a grocery store, make sure they are not waxed...or remove the wax. You should also make sure that you have everything you need ready to go. With anything that requires precision and timing, having to stop and find tools or supplies can gum up the works.


Apples with Honey Candy Coating

(This is what I am going to try:) 


Greased sheet pan or aluminum foil

Pastry brush with bowl of warm water

Skewers or chopsticks

Candy thermometer (I'm going to try using a regular thermometer and let it roll back around to zero and keep going)

Wash and dry apples and remove stems. Insert sticks.

Candy coating:

I'm going to try this mix...

1/2c honey

1/4c turbinado sugar

1/2c water (maybe less?)

Place in saucepan and cook over medium heat. Make sure sugar dissolves before mix boils.

Once mix begins to boil, turn heat down a bit and do not stir or sugar may crystallize. Use the pastry brush and occasionally brush on some warm water on the sides of the pan.

I'm going for the 290 degree temp, what candy makers call the soft crack stage. This will produce a bit thicker and less brittle candy coating.

Once you have reached this temp, turn the heat off and quickly coat the apples. Tip the pan so you can roll the apples in the candy and once fully coated place on sheet pan or aluminum foil and place in fridge.


My first attempt was successful, I think. It is always interesting to do something new because you have nothing to compare your success to. All I can say is that I learned a lot and would change little. The first lesson was about the cooking time and temperature. I had no idea how long it would take to get up to the desired temperature. While the water content is high, the temperature stays around the boiling point, 212 degrees. It seemed to be taking forever, so I placed the candy coating mixture into a larger pot and the water evaporated off much more quickly. As a matter of fact, at one point, the temp climbed from 220 to 290 in what seemed an instant and I almost burned the mix. In the end, I think that my final temp was a bit higher than 290, resulting in a harder, crunchier shell. My batch made enough for about six apples.


After the coating had cooled, it was time to try one. They certainly were beautiful and you could smell the honey. It was a powerful flavor with the honey, very floral and strong...and in my opinion, delicious. The thick chunks would stick to my teeth so I broke those off and they were like hard honey candy to suck on. My boy was begging for them and I was thinking of my next project, honey lollipops. There was something so amazing about the honey candy. This is definitely one of those experiments that leads to more and more ideas and creations. I suppose it is time to get a candy thermometer.


In the end, I found myself talking to lots of folks about my candy apple experiment and sure enough, many people had memories of them. Some were of taffy apples, some caramel covered and of course, the candy apples with the bright red coating. My own dad reminisced about getting candy apples on Halloween, wrapped in wax paper and now, I can see the beauty in it. Fruit and candy coating...on a stick. Seems obvious. Plus, they were actually very cheap, quick and easy to make. Perhaps next year I will try out some popcorn balls or maybe you, dear readers, have a favorite Halloween tradition to share.

Happy Halloween!

Lawrence Black is a writer and editor at 
Simple, Good and Tasty.  He can be reached at