These black Poison candy/ toffee apples are the ultimate wickedly sinister Halloween treat and will make an excellent centerpiece.
As a child, eating a toffee/candy apple was the ultimate delight. I never felt guilty because well, it’s an apple! Yes, it has tons of sugar around it but who cares? It’s fruit! I would always crack the candy coating on the table because it was just too hard to bite through and I loved how it always made me feel so jolly when I ate it. And I now see that same joy on my kids’ faces when they eat them.
Making them is equally fun. Even more fun when they candy coating is a glossy, sinister black. They remind me of something Maleficent would serve. Just perfect for Halloween. I have made a whole batch and have wrapped them in cellophane, ready to give to the trick-or-treaters who have become a fun addition in the last few years. As South Africans, Halloween is not a holiday we normally celebrate but I just love the dressing up and the festivity of it all. These apples make a beautiful center piece and will add the appropriate amount of wickedness to your party.
- Apples. I used Granny Smith apples. I love how the green apples and black candy coating contrast but use any crisp, tart apple of your choice. Fuji, Honeycrisp, etc. work well.
- Corn syrup. Liquid glucose works equally well.
- Black food coloring. I used a gel food coloring.
How do I make candy apples?
- Prepare the apples and dipping station: Wash your apples in warm water (especially if they have a wax coating). Remove the stems from the apples. Skewer your apples with kebab sticks (or use branches from a non-toxic tree for a fun twist) and set aside. Line a sheetpan with parchment paper or spray with cooking spray and set aside. You could also allow the apples to set on a silicone mat.
- Make the candy coating: Combine sugar, water, corn syrup and black food coloring in a saucepan and set over medium-high heat. Allow to come to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Once the sugar has dissolved, stop stirring and wash down the sides of the pot with a wet brush. This prevents sugar crystals from falling into the caramel and causing it to crystallize. Cook the caramel until it’s reached the hard crack stage (150ºC/310ºF on a candy thermometer). To check if you’ve reached hard crack stage without a candy thermometer, simply drop a little of the boiling sugar mixture into a glass of ice cold water. The sugar should form hard, brittle threads.
- Dip the apples: Carefully dip the apples into the sweet candy coating. Carefully tip the pan to the side and swirl the apples into the candy mixture. Place on the prepared sheetpan and allow to cool and harden before serving.
What is the best apple to use for candy apples?
Granny Smith apples are perfect for toffee/candy apples. Their tart, crispness works very well with the sugary sweetness of the candy coating.
Can you put candy apples in the fridge?
You can, but it’s not recommended. The candy coating can start to sweat in the refrigerator and can slide off the apple. Rather wrap the cooled, hardened candy apples in cellophane and tie well to prevent any oxygen from getting to the apples. This way they will last up to 3-5 days at room temperature. The best way to prevent oxygenation though is to coat the apples and the entry point of the skewer into the apple completely in the candy coating. This way they can last up for 10 days.
Poison Toffee Apples for Halloween
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 3/4 cups water
- 1/2 cup liquid glucose/light corn syrup
- few drops black gel food colouring
- 6 Granny Smith apples or 12 small apples (Ensure your apples are fresh and haven't been waxed)
- Grease a piece of baking paper and place on a tray/baking sheet.
- Insert bamboo skewers in all the apples and set aside.
- Combine sugar, water, corn syrup and black food coloring in a saucepan and set over medium heat.
- Allow to come to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
- Once the sugar has dissolved, stop stirring and wash down the sides of the pot with a wet brush. This prevents sugar crystals from falling into the caramel and causing it to crystallize.
- Cook the caramel until it's reached the hard crack stage (150ºC/310ºF on a candy thermometer). To check if you've reached hard crack stage without a candy thermometer, simply drop a little of the boiling sugar mixture into a glass of ice cold water. The sugar should form hard, brittle threads.
- Carefully dip the apples into the caramel mixture. Carefully tip the pan to the side and swirl the apples into the candy mixture.
- Place on the prepared sheet pan and allow to cool and harden before serving.
I did the instructions word for word. I tested everything like suggested and what I’ve been left with is some sticky apples and a tray full of sticky gloop. It was a very expensive make so not going to bother again which is sad because I was really looking toward to this 🙁
That’s very disappointing 🙁 It sounds like you didn’t cook the sugar for long enough. When the candy is cooked for long, it will harden relatively quickly at room temperature.
So easy and so cool. Wish I could post photo??
VERY COOL IDEA!
Any chance this would work with Apple Balls? So they could be appetizer size?
I’m sure they would work well. I haven’t tried it so can’t say with certainty but I can’t see why it won’t work.
Just tried this with daughter, not bad but caramel ran off apples so didn’t quite look like pictures. Could I have thickened caramel or scrub apples better (Granny Smiths rinsed). Trying to get right for her Halloween party.
If the sugar is cooked to the right temperatures it won’t slide off the apple. Make sure the apples are completely dry before dipping in the hot caramel.
Place whole apples in boiling water for less than 10 seconds & rub with towel to remove wax & caramel should stick!
I’ve made this every year for the last 3 years. They are always a hit and my kids love them.
So happy you and the kids like them Jo-Anne. 🙂
Do they dry chewy like the ones you buy at the grocery or is the coating hard?
They dry hard like candy,
I have been searching for a Halloween treat for my grandsons special needs class that all the children can have (Gluten free, Peanut Free, No Chocolate, the list goes on ) These are perfect and I doubt anyone else will be bringing them in this small town!! It’s really hard to find something for everyone, last year parents all seemed send something that at least one child couldn’t have me I sent a cut fruit decorated to look like a monster Kids had a great time disassembling and eating him, and am doing that again but wanted something that they could take home that was out of the ordinary and this is it THANK YOU
So glad you found something all the kids can enjoy! 🙂
Those are great Photographs you took, have to try this
Hi Alida, I am definitely doing this for a wedding, but I have not idea how should I storage it, can you give me a clue please?,
I would wrap each apple in cellophane to stop it from drawing moisture.
Made these last night for Hallloween ???? Thank you for the fantastic how-to!! You made it so easy… they turned out amazing! AND the sweet candy coating with the Granny Smith tart was delicious! Perfect hard crack and super glossy too. My family loved them!
I’m so pleased you found them easy to do Patti. 🙂
OMG! So easy to make and delicious. How can i package them without them getting stuck together?
Right? They are the ultimate! Just wrap them individually with plastic wrap/cellophane and they should last a while.
Possibly wax paper
My daughter and I made 22 of these last night for the Halloween Eve post hockey game snack for my son’s ice hockey team. We had to quadruple the recipe and we used 3 containers of the Wilton black gel color. They turned out awesome! This recipe is definitely a keeper! Thank you!
Awesome! I’m so glad you liked them Joan!
My daughter and I made 22 of these last night for my son’s hockey team after their game tomorrow (Halloween Eve). We quadruped the recipe and used 3 containers of the Wilton black gel coloring. They turned out perfect! Thank you for this awesome recipe it’s a keeper!
Can the dark corn syrup be used or clear only
Either will work fine I’m sure.
those photos stopped me in my tracks! what stunners! and I love the idea of using the black coloring. my boys will flip for these!
Thanks Cathy! They’re definitely a showstopper.
Tried this last night. Did not work!! I even put the whole black gel coloring in it to try to black color, but nothing, just was clear at the end.. Maybe black food dye also needs to be added.
That is very strange. I used black gel food colouring which is very opaque and pigmented. Perhaps try a different brand of colouring?
Hi! Would you mind sharing what brand of black gel coloring you used? Thanks!!
Oh gosh, I don’t have the brand in my pantry at the moment. When I buy it again I’ll be sure to let you know!
If you have activated charcoal you can add that.
Nicole @ Young, Broke and Hungry
These are some beautiful wicked apples!
Thanks Nicole! 🙂
Mary Ann @ thebeachhousekitchen
I just adore these Alida!! That dark black makes them the perfect tasty but scary Halloween treat! Fabulous video too. I love the music!
Thanks so much Mary Ann. We had such fun doing the video.
Lynn | The Road to Honey
Wow! Look at that shine on these sinister, little apples. They are perfect for all those upcoming spooky Halloween parties. I’m already envisioning them nestled on a pile of gummy worms. P.S. Love your video.
THe glucose/corn syrup is what ensures them to be super-duper shiny. They almost look lacquered, don’t they? And on top of gummy worms? Genius! 🙂
Do i need glucose and corn syrup or just one of them ?
No, not both. Just one of them. 🙂
I made these today! Had to use a lot more black gel dye (super black), and the black color was a little off… almost a tint reddish brown. I boiled my apples 10 seconds each and washed the wax, I’m wondering if that’s too long as one of my apples sweat really bad. I think next time I’ll wash the night before. I ignored the suggestion to grease the wax paper which was a huge mistake. ? I cut mine in half to make eating easier and hot damn! I don’t even like Granny Smith apples but these are delish! Definitely a keeper.
Can you add any flavoring?
Beautiful and so perfect for Halloween! Love them!
Thanks Eden! 🙂
Hi, Do you know if it would be possible to make this recipe (the candy) ahead of time, and re-warm it up in a crock pot the day it is needed? I want to do it for a party…
I wouldn’t suggest doing that but then again, I’ve never tried that before. Perhaps make them ahead and then wrap individually in cellophane?
The color black made them really awesome. I can’t wait to try….
Thanks Kristine! 🙂
Hi Alida – I wanted to make these for work but I’m concerned about the hard candy shell. Have you ever tried slicing the apples before the shell fully hardens? Or can you slice them with an regular apple slicer once they’ve “dried”?
I’ve never tried slicing them because they look so beautiful whole. You could slice them but the candy layer will probably just crack off if you do. Perhaps cut them before dipping them? I’ve never tried this so not sure it will work but you could give it a try?
Mine were nice and shiny, no bubbles, perfect consistency but turned out chocolate/dark brown… I did use black gel colouring. where did I go wrong?
It might be the brand of colouring you used. Often they use different base colours which can make the finished look appear brown/green/red.
I have made these candy apples 3 times and each time they were yummy, just a question I found the candy to be a little thing so when dip the apple in it you could still see the apple, how do I make it a little thicker, also I placed sugar on a cookie sheet and placed the apple on that so you had a bit of a sugar coat on the top. thank you for the great receipt.
If you’d like it a little thicker, boil the caramel for a little longer. The thicker the caramel, the thicker it will look on the apple. 🙂
Are there any alternatives to glucose or light corn syrup? I can’t get them on short notice here in Germany ;(
Linda, the glucose/light corn syrup add a real gloss to these apples but you can subsitute a cup of sugar and 1/4 cup of water for each cup of light corn syrup.
So, they won’t be as glossy when I use the sugar/water-mixture?
I’m not sure, unfortunately as I’ve never made them without the corn syrup. They will still probably be quite glossy but I just feel I should warn you just in case they’re not. 😉
Hmm OK…I will let you know how they turned out 🙂
So, destiny apparently wanted me to have glucose. I found a fantastic baking accessories shop around the corner of my workplace and they had it! Plus a million other things I want to buy right now! 😀
Does it matter if its dark corn syrup?
Not at all, since you’re going to be adding black food colouring you won’t notice the difference at all.
I’m so glad! Now they’re going to be perfect.
Lynz, I would suggest eating them the day they are made. Alternatively you can wrap the cooled candy apples in celophane and keep them for a day or two at room temperature?
If you drop a bit of the caramel in ice water it needs to form a hard ball immediately, that is hard crack stage.
Kelsie, it could be that your apples have been waxed by the retailer you bought them from which will then melt off resulting in your candy layer slipping off. Either that or your caramel hasn’t cooked for long enough.
Julia, that means your caramel hasn’t cooked for long enough. It needs to be really quite thick so it sticks onto the apples. Also, make sure your apples haven’t been waxed by the retailer you have bought them from as this could also cause the candy layer to slip off.
Those look great Emma! Again, please don’t use wax paper as that will melt and stick to the apple. Rather use baking paper or parchment.
Thanks Alida, i didn’t use wax paper but noted that others had been and was suggesting they try a silicone baking mat.
Oh, silly me! The silicone baking mats are fantastic!
Katy, the caramel should be quite thick. I would say approximately 10-15 minutes?
I started this before realizing I needed a candy thermometer, alas mine is broken, about how long after sugar starts boiling should I start dipping in the apples?
Followed the recipe but used food coloring, couldn’t get hold of the gel. Still after 2 rounds was able to get the gloss effect and very happy witht the results. For those having problems with the toffee sticking to the wax paper, you might want to try using a non-stick silicone baking mat. I have put a link below to my picture on Pinterest – Check it out.
My candy is sliding right off the apple! Help!!!
My mixture isn’t sticking to my apples…it just runs right off when i pull it out? helppp
Hi! I made a batch of these last night and had two issues – first, some of the toffee bubbled once I dipped the apples, do I just need to remove the toffee from the high heat before dipping? Other issue was that the wax paper stuck to the toffee when I removed them…I used Crisco on wax paper. Is there a better way? Do I have to remove them sooner (like right after the hour of cooling)? Thanks!
Yes you’re going to want to take them off the heat first then dip. Also yeah as soon as the caramel is set enough i would peel if off the parchment, regrease the pan and put them back down. 😀
Yes, remove the caramel from the heat before dipping in the apples.
And it’s important that you use BAKING paper or parchment and not wax paper. Wax paper is not heat-resistant and the waxy layer will melt.
How long in advance can you make these? And what is the best way to store them? Also….without a thermometer, how best can I determine when it gets to the ” hard crack stage”?
You could definitely add dark blue if you wanted. I actually don’t even know what the brand is that I use, it’s just the colouring my local baking shop sells.
The problem with liquid is that it can often dilute the candy layer to get to the same opaque colour and then it won’t set hard. But perhaps give it a try and see?
Josephine Del Papa
These are so spooky and creative! I LOVE them.
I am using them as treats at my zombie wedding ceremony this saturday!! They are perfect for the theme and ill be sticking neon colored gummy worms on them right after dipping
What an awesome idea. I hope you’re wedding day is amazing!
Im going to make these for my work party, but dont have any gel food coloring all I have is liquid. How will it different? Has anyone used liquid food coloring?
I followed the directions to the detail and had no issues. My black sugar came out more translucent… I added 4 healthy drops of black gel food color. I really wanted that glossy black look. Help?
Juli, the only way to get it more black is to add more colouring. Some gel colours are less opaque than others so you’ll have to add until your happy with the end result.
Ok so I made a second batch. I alway dbl the batches because I get so irritated when I don’t have enough. This time I put the water in the saucepan first and just used a ton of color (almost half of the tube). I stirred the color with the water to make sure it was blended well. Then the other ingredients were added. I cooked it to 310 and then let it sit for about a minute off the heat. The first time I just started dipping the apples and then I had bubbles forming in the coating. This time I actually stepped back and waited for the bubbles to dissipate. Absolute success!!!! The color was much better and the coating was silky smooth. It’s still not as dark as I want tho. I’m looking for that midnight black color in the pic. Would you suggest maybe a hit of dark blue with the black? What brand of black gel are you using? Thanks for everything.
These are beautiful. Is there a way to tell when the candy gets to the hard crack stage without a candy thermometer?
When you drop a bit of the caramel into ice water it should form a hard little ball that cracks when you bite into it/hit it with a spoon.
I always have trouble with my apples sticking to the paper, whats the best way to get that to not happen?
I just tried this and it’s all watery and not sticking to the apple, is there something I’m doing wrong?
Kat, it might be that you didn’t cook it for long enough. Before you coat the apples the caramel/candy needs to be quite thick and sticky. Did you cook it until the hard crack stage? Also, if you used liquid food colouring instead of the gel mentioned in the recipe it could also have an effect on the finished result.
Pros regularly stick their fingers in boiling syrup. We just hold our hands in ice water until they ache first, then dip them in the syrup very quickly. No burns! It’s a pretty standard way to test the stage the syrup is at if you don’t have a thermometer, and was standard before reliable thermometers were common.
Thanks for the tip, I would still not suggest people who aren’t completely comfortable working with hot sugar do this.
It’s definitely something to be very very careful with, and I was terrified the first several times I did it. I never would have without a chef standing over me instructing me on how to do it safely, back in culinary school.
Will you get the same shiny effect with regular black food coloring vs. gel food coloring?
Yep, it’s the sugar that gives the shine. Gel food colouring is just a lot more pigmented so you don’t need to use as much.
Thanks for your comment. I’ve never made them with less corn syrup so I can’t verify if this will work but if anyone would like to give it a try, they’re welcome to!
How long do these keep for? I am having a party and I want to do these cause they are wickedly cool, but I want to do it the day before the party. Will they stay fresh in the fridge?
Meg, I would wrap them in cellophane and just keep them on your kitchen counter. Putting them in the fridge will cause the candy layer to start sweating and it might start pulling away from the apples. Because the candy layer preserves the apple in a way, they will be fine on your kitchen counter but be sure to cover them as they can draw moisture from the air and become tacky.
Is there a way to make it so it doesn’t break a tooth when biting into it? These look so cool, but I do not want my family biting into them thinking its like caramel and its a hard rock. so is there a way to make sure it doesn’t get rock hard?
Nikki, these are candy apples so the outside is meant to be really hard. If it doesn’t harden it will just be like syrup and won’t cling to the apple. I would just tell your family to be careful but really, we’ve eaten these many times and never have we broken a tooth while doing so.
ok thank you. My family has really sensitive teeth and really fragile teeth (I do not have kids but my mother and my stepfather are who I am talking about and myself) thank you for your response. 🙂
Decrease the amount of corn syrup and they won’t be so hard to bite into. I make them frequently and 1/8 to 1/4 cup of syrup is perfect. 1/2 cup makes them way too hard.
Because the hard crack stage requires intervention…
You said to cook to 310 – hard crack? Isn’t that like peanut brittle? Don’t you want it to be creamier – like caramel?
Yep, that’s correct. These are candy apples so the coating needs to be hard like candy.
I want to make these and use them for a center piece… What I’d like to know is…. Can you also use the candy ingredients to make like rock candy and pour it out on a cookie sheet lined with spayed paper. Then break apart after it hardens? I like to do some black, deep blood red and some mixed to throw around the outer edges of the apples.
Carla, that is a fabulous idea and yes, it will definitely work. It will go rock hard like a proper candy. Please tweet/Instagram a photo and tag me in it when you have done this. I’d love to see it. Twitter: @SimplyDelishSA Instagram: @alidaryder
Mandy, I actually can’t remember but I don’t think they did. It all depends on the type of colouring you use. The gel colouring I use don’t often cause stains unless you get it on your skin in its pure form.
Do these turn your mouth black when you eat them? They look great.
You’re right, they would!
I’m thinking these would look pretty placed in Halloween cupcake liners!
This instruction is before the sugar has started boiling and while the syrup is just warm but definitely not hot. You are completely right, you should NOT try to touch the syrup once it’s hot.
Correct me if I am wrong…. but did I just read that you put in the recipe “and the mixture feels smooth when you rub it between your fingers” . In my experience that equals 3rd degree burns…. hot sugar and all that.
nice could do blood red with cinnamon flavor as well 😛
I now know what I’ll be making for my first attempt at a confectionery treat.
Let me know what you think once you’ve tried it!
anna @ annamayeveryday
Those look just amazing, what a brilliant idea! Superb photographs too.
They look beautiful and sinister at the same time – what a great recipe! Thank you!! 🙂
so cool 🙂
I just made a batch today but the back didn’t turn out as black. What did you use. Being a cake decorator I know a true black is hard to get. What’ss your secret?
I just used a black gel food coloring I found at my local baking supplies store. I know many of them can be quite brown but the one I use (not sure what the brand is called) has a green tinge to it which helps with its rich black color, I’m sure.
Totally wicked! Love it 🙂 xx