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How (not) to make toffee apples


I read a tip on an Instructables for mini toffee apples – rather than dip the whole apple, use a melon-baller to make smaller globes and use a cocktail stick for a “handle”.

Sounded interesting, and I hadn’t had a toffee apple since I was a kid, so I bought some apples – it recommended Granny Smiths, which my local Sainsbury sold in packs of 4.

It said that you could either make toffee from scratch, or buy some, melt it and use that. I looked up “how to make toffee” online, but a lot o it was “buy some and melt it in microwave” and the actual recipes looked a bit daunting for someone who’s never made any before and who’s a bit wary of dealing with boiling liquids – at least, of dealing with them safely.

So I thought I’d buy some and microwave-melt, but even that wasn’t easy –couldn’t find the right kind on Amazon and none of my local shops had anything other than Werther’s Originals. I explained to the woman in the shop what I was looking for, and why, and she said that she’d used Werther’s to top a toffee cake she’d made, so I bought some.

First time I tried didn’t go well – unwrapped all the toffees and used an ordinary mixing bowl to melt them; wasn’t sure how long it’d take so gave it thirty-second bursts. Nothing seemed to happen, so I left it in for longer, and it melted then … also melted the bowl, when I lifted it out of the microwave only the toffee held the bottom on! (Took a pic of that, and if I can find it I’ll post it.)

Bought some more, and had them hanging around for ages until I could find a Pyrex jug to melt this lot in. Meantime, the first lot of apples had gone off, so the birds got them and after I’d bought the second bag of toffees, bought some more. Took so long to get the jug that these apples were in danger, too.

Finally got all items and got around to doing something with them. Peeled the apples and used the melon-baller:

Put a cocktail stick in each and put them on a tray

Left a lot of bits and pieces between where the balls had been cut out:

Put them in mini-foil dishes, so that I could pour toffee on them to make “toffee apple cakes”:

Didn’t fancy microwaving the toffee after last time, even though I’d now got something safe to melt them in, so had a go at making a double-boiler using two saucepans and an empty small tin that had contained pineapple chunks:

But the toffee didn’t seem to want to know at all:

So I had to try to jug-and-microwave method, with equal success – even when melted, the toffee was thick and reluctant to leave the jug … and by the time I’d taken it out of the microwave and walked across to the waiting apple pieces, it had virtually set again:

I had to re-melt, and re-re-melt, and re-re-re, doing a splodge each time before the toffee set again.

I managed to get a dribble over the apple, but not much – and even then it wouldn’t stick, possibly because the apple was still a bit moist.

I tried a couple of bits while I was waiting for the next melt, but the rest of it all ended up in the bin. And getting the toffee remnants out of the jug was another ordeal.

Of course, I realise now that what I should have done was to have used the double boiler on a much higher heat, and keep it simmering while I dipped each mini-apple, but as I said, I’m a bit nervous of working with stuff that’s that hot.

It’s not even as if I particularly like toffee! I always avoid it in any assortment. But I remembered the thin crunchy toffee that was on the apples of my youth, and maybe creamy toffee wasn’t the right thing to use.

The “mini-apple” is a good idea. Just a shame that I couldn’t do any better with it. Ah well, at least I tried.

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It's very easy to make caramel from scratch. That's what I would do because you make exactly what you need.

Just add a cup of sugar and a tablespoon of water into a heavy saucepan, turn on flame to medium-high and just leave it alone - don't stir. Let the sugar melt and come to a rolling boil, don't stir and don,'t leave it unattended (it will burn) When the boiling sugar turns an amber color, turn off flame quickly, throw in a knob of butter, stir, add 1/4 cup of heavy cream. Stir.

Now you have homemade caramel.

Add a pinch of salt if not using salted butter.

It's great on apples, ice cream, all kinds of things.

22 Sep, 2014


thanks, Bathgate, I'll give it a go - without apples at first!

22 Sep, 2014


Good. It will be the best caramel you ever tasted. When you do the second batch, you make small adjustments according to your liking.

Prep your food beforehand. the process goes pretty quickly - about 10 minutes. You have about 8 minutes to work with it once you turn off the stove. It slowly hardens to a rock. Cleans up easily with warm water. good luck

22 Sep, 2014


Do be careful Fran, you can get a serious burn from hot toffee even when you can see well what you're doing.

22 Sep, 2014


that's what was bothering me, Stera - expecially given my vision - maybe I need to get my befriender or someone to walk through it with me the first time. I'm not a fan of toffee, creamy or caramel, but the crisp brittle toffee skin on the apples of my youth were something else, at least in my emmory.

lol maybe I'll have to find somethgn else to cover them with now. mmm, wonder about chocolate mini-apples on stick??

22 Sep, 2014


Steragram is very right as with anything you cook on the stove or that involves fire. It also burns very quickly so you need to take it off the stove at the right moment. When you add the butter and cream - it will start to splatter and spit, so back away.

You can also order them online or buy them at the local markets.

22 Sep, 2014


I like apples, but (at least round here) one can't get small ones, other than Cox's - I get bored halfway through a large apple; covering it in toffee might make a difference, but if htey made mini toffee apples I'd be in the queue!

23 Sep, 2014


They are so delicious, I can eat a large one...maybe two.

23 Sep, 2014


Um...... I don't think they are toffees.......more like buttesotch boiled sweets, toffees are chewy.
boiling sugar gets incredibly hot, the tiniest drop of water in it can cause it to erupt quite spectacularly ( painful if a drop catches you)

23 Sep, 2014


Like Pamg, I think you started out with the wrong sweets, Fran. Werthers make actual toffees rather than the boiled candies and they would melt OK, at least they have when I've used them in a recipe. Good luck for your next attempt. If you want a toffee recipe (from scratch) I have one I used for Millionaires shortbread and I can send you that if you need it but it does splash a lot when boiling!

23 Sep, 2014


Ooh I love millionaires shortbread. .......always think it must be millions of calories tooo😕

23 Sep, 2014


It was your vision I was thinking of Fran - it really is quite a risk

I burned myself quite spectacularly once when sugar boiling. The temperature for brittle toffee is higher than for the chewy sort too. Chocolate would certainly be safer but a bit odd don't you think?
Incidentally what's wrong with Cox's apples? They seem to be the only British grown ones around and are the only eaters I will buy (except for the short season of Russets) as I won't support the import of fruit we can grow better here.

Gee and Pam, what's millionaire's shortbread? Sounds wonderful!

23 Sep, 2014


@ Snoop – lol I didn’t think of that, I could have recycled them rather than binning the bits!

@ Pam – they weren’t what I’d call proper toffee, really; most toffee these days seems to be creamy-chewy, not pure toffee, if there is such a thing.
The melting-boiling temp of sugar is one reason I’ve been put off trying to make jam, for one, and lots of other things that need high temps.

@ Gee – thanks for the offer, dear, but I think I won’t try again – probably did everything wrong that it was possible to do wrong, but given the heat needed – and the splashing – think I should work on things that are easier and safer to make, and that I’m more likely to actually eat!

@ Stera – ooh, that sounds painful! I’ll stay away from toffee and anything at that end of the temperature range.
Chocolate apples does sound a bit unusual – but lol might start a new trend? I’ve got chocolate melting pots and chocolate moulds, I just need a good excuse to use them.
Cox’s are my favourite apple, but they’re a bit sharp sometimes, and they’re seasonal. I always save seeds and plant them on the “you never know” basis, but nothing’s happened yet.
Lol I think “Golden Delicious” should be sued under the Trades Descriptions Act, as they’re neither – correct name should be “Greenish Tasteless”!

Echo your question: not heard of Millionaire’s Shortbread either

24 Sep, 2014


Try thorntons toffee, more like the old sort.....

well imagine a shortbread base then a layer of creamy caramel topped with a layer of chocolate and cut into squares......
supermarkets sell it now, if you need a sugar fix go for it!

24 Sep, 2014


Oh Fran, I had to laugh when I read about your efforts to make toffee apples. It sounds so much like my efforts at baking. I had a go at making bread recently, the first batch didn't even get past the first rising before I chucked it in the bin. The second lot seemed fine and I was eagerly waiting until it cooled to try a slice. Unfortunately, you would have needed a chainsaw to cut through it and heaven help your toes if you dropped it lol! But like yourself, I don't give up easily, so watch this space lol!!

24 Sep, 2014


@ Pam, thanks, I'll check out Thornton's toffee, already know about their chocooates!

@ Waddy; I used to make my own bread, and it was fun, and more or less edible - kneading twice was a pain, but worth it.

Then I discovered Hovis "knead-once" flour with special dried yeast. That was a lot easier.

I don't now have the shoulder-arm strength to knead even once, as I found out the last time I tried.

But my brand new bread-maker arrived yesterday, so once I've got the manual up to something i can actually read, I'll give it a go - i don't want it to actually cook the bread, just to do the kneading for me, then I can shape it and add whatever topping I want.

lol will let you know how it goes!

24 Sep, 2014


Please do!

25 Sep, 2014


Pam, it sounds gorgeous!! We have a Thorntons outlet in town where its all half price but because so few people are shopping in town they are closing next week - awful news! I popped in to lay up some stores for later - next problem is how to prevent myself gobbling my way through it all.

Fran if you do decide to make jam you can get sugar boiling thermometers that show you when the right temp has been reached - but just realised you might not be able to read the scale - what a pain. Probably right to decide to leave the high temps alone and stick to chocolate! I so agree with you about Golden Delicious - hardly golden at all and certainly not delicious! I don't mind tart apples - but then I start eating gooseberries when they are so sour my teeth curl up...

Looking forward to hearing how the breadmaking goes.

25 Sep, 2014


We have an old apple tree here, its one of those family trees must be at least 40 years old, one of the branches has an apple the best I have ever tasted, no idea what it is but straight from the tree its crisp, sweet, juicy and almost a citrus overtone, pick it to eat the next day and its boring cotton wool.....

I tend to buy pink lady in a supermarket.

We used to buy chocolate coated apples as children, I liked them much better thsn toffee apples......

26 Sep, 2014


It would be a lot easier to do chocolate coated apples. I agree with you Pamg that a fresh apple off the tree and eaten right away can be sublime. You could stand there and say, 'I am getting, citrous, melon, strawberry and elder flower with pomegranit coming through'. I got all enthusiastic about a bit of baking a while back. It was so messy and not a very presentable result, I retired beaten and dispointed. I love it when something goes belly up on Bake Off cos it makes me feel better!

26 Sep, 2014


I have a wax thermometer for candle making - which I've also not ried cos of the splash-burn risk; i'd have to get so close to the thermometer to be able to read the heat that it'd probably be even more unsafe. Think I'll stick to buying jam, sigh.

I did look at Cox's apple trees, but the book said they're not the easiest to grow. Of course, I could grow any apple,, and just pick them sooner so they're smaller. so many need cross-pollination

The first prob with the breadmaker is to scan the manyal into the pc in the hope that i can convert it to something readable! is what I'm doing at the moment.

went to the local small Sainsbury today with my befirender and bought some breadmakign supplies: flour, yeast - for granary or wholemeal bread, the recipe sheet says to add dried skimmed milk and vitamin C tablets, crushed [??]. the shop only had one kind of vitamin C tablets, no idea if they'll be any use. suppose i'll have to start with white bread!

26 Sep, 2014

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