With Granny Smith apples being in season in autumn, we know it’s a great time to make candy apples. No Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas have ever gone by in my household without the sight of candy apples.
In fact, according to one source, candy apples were first produced in the early 1900s for a Christmas trade. In a candy shop, a veteran Newark candy-maker experimented on dipping some apples in red cinnamon candy and sold his first batch for 5 cents. He sold out quickly and made more and more. And the rest, they say, is history.
Since then candy apples have been found at trade fairs, carnivals and candy shops across the US. Over the years, this treat has become part of traditions in many different countries around the globe. And with apples being available all year round, there are no restrictions on when you can have candy apples.
For example, in Israel, they are sold in cities as part of their street celebrations on the eve of Independence Day. In Japan, they sell it at festivals along with other candied fruits such as strawberries and tangerines. In France, it’s even made to honor John the Apostle.
But with all the different versions all over the world, there is a common difficulty when you make them at home: how to keep candy apples from sticking to wax paper.
You will encounter this problem making candy apples for the first time and solely relying on wax paper. And even if this isn’t your first time making them, if you miss a simple yet crucial step, your apples will stick like crazy.
I know because I’ve had to deal with sticking apples several times in the past.
It’s frustrating when you focus on making the perfect candy mixture and coating the apples beautifully only to find out you have to struggle to take the wax paper off. It doesn’t only ruin the beautiful candy coating, it also leaves a sticky mess you don’t want to deal with.
The good thing in messing something up the first time is that you learn to look for ways not to make the same mistake again. It’s a general perspective, but it also applies in the kitchen.
And although I learned my lesson the hard way, I know I won’t have to deal with sticking candy apples ever again.
Are Candy Apples the Same as Caramel Apples?
They look the same, that’s for sure, but they are different from one another.
Candy apples are coated with a shiny red hard shell that cracks with every bite. The shell is usually made of sugar, water, light corn syrup, and red food coloring. Back in the day, authentic candy apples had cinnamon flavor.
Caramel apples, on the other hand, are apples coated in caramel. Unlike candy apples that have a hard shell, they have a soft and chewy texture that tastes buttery. The caramel coating is usually made of sugar, water, corn syrup, butter, and cream. You can also substitute granulated sugar with brown sugar and cream with condensed or evaporated milk.
The Best Apples for Candy Apples
Apples come in different varieties and many of them can be used in candy apples depending on your preference. While this post is focused on how to keep candy apples from sticking to wax paper, it’s also good to know what apple type is best for this treat. Below are the best types you can use as follows:
Granny Smith – has a firm texture and a tart flavor. It can hold a good thick candy layer and toppings so it is perfect for when you want to add bar toppings and mixins to you candy.
McIntosh/Paula Red/Wealthy – has a mildly tart flavor and complements candy really well.
Gala – has a sweet flavor and firm texture. If you want sweeter options instead of tart, then this is apple you should use.
Fuji – has a firm texture and tart flavor like Granny Smith. It can withstand a good amount of heat making it another good option for candy apples.
Haralson – has a tart flavor and a good alternative for Granny Smith and Fuji.
Jazz – has a tart and sweet flavor and is crunchy. It’s a good option for those looking for a different texture and a mixture or flavor profile.
Wax Paper vs Parchment Paper
Wax paper and parchment paper are sometimes interchanged. They look the same at first, but the difference between the two is in the coating.
Parchment paper is coated with silicone to make it resistant to heat and give it a non-stick surface. Most brands can withstand high temperature of up to 420 degrees Fahrenheit (or 215 degrees Celcius) making it a good option for baking and roasting among others.
Meanwhile, wax paper is coated with paraffin or soybean wax and should not be exposed to direct heat such as in ovens. It’s ideally used as a sandwich or cold storage wrapper or separator such as in burger patties. It can also be used for spreading confections while cooling.
How to Prevent Candy Apples From Sticking to Wax Paper
Understanding the difference between wax paper and parchment paper plays a key role here.
At this point, we already know that the ideal paper to use for candy apples is parchment paper and not wax paper due to the reasons given above. Also, the wax in the wax paper can melt to the food and contribute to the apples sticking some more.
However, if you don’t have parchment paper at home and have to work with wax paper instead, there are a few things you can do to keep the apple from sticking to it.
1. The Butter Method
Smear butter on the wax paper before setting the candy apples on top of it. Let the apples cool completely and rest for about 2 hours before removing them to ensure you won’t have to deal with sticking issues.
2. The Oil or Non-Stick Spray Method
Use about 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil to grease the wax paper. You can also use cooking spray as a substitute. Take note though that these two options will not give the same rich flavor you would get from butter.
3. The Bar Toppings Method
If, for some reason, you don’t have any of the above, you can dip the apples one at a time in the candy mixture and roll it in the toppings of your choice. Make sure to cover the bottom part with a good amount of toppings to keep if from sticking to the wax paper when you let it cool.
You can use nuts, candy corn, sprinkles, gummy bears, mini chocolate chips, and many more. You just have to work fast end roll it in the toppings before the candy starts to harden. When all the apples are ready, put the whole tray in the fridge and allow them to cool.
What to do if candy apples stick to wax paper
The bottom line here is to use parchment paper as much as possible. However, in instances when using wax paper can’t be avoided, there are measures you can do to still have good results.
But what if you fail to do any of the above? What will happen to the candy apples? Don’t panic because there’s something you can do to fix the problem.
The easiest way to pull the wax paper off is to put candy apples on top of something warm enough to melt a thin layer of candy. You may need to redip the bottom of the apples, but this method will save you from ruining those beautiful treats.
Candy apple designs you shouldn’t miss
While the traditional candy apples exude a touch of classic red that makes you think of Christmas, this treat has become popular for other holidays such as Halloween and Thanksgiving. Over the years, we’ve seen many creative ways to make candy apples look charming thanks to Pinterest.
Here are some popular apple candy designs you might want to try.
- Make poison apples by using black or blue food coloring instead of red.
- Add some Halloween flare by using orange food coloring and stocking cut out eyes, nose, and mouth for jack- o’-lantern candy apples.
- Dip the apples in white chocolate and drip some bloody red sugar mixture to make cursed candy apples.
- Serve candy cane apples by rolling the apples in crushed candy canes after dipping for some holiday treats.
- After dipping, drizzle the apples with melted while chocolate and sprinkle with silver dragees for a gourmet look.
- Or roll the apple in shredded coconut for a unique texture.
There’s so much you can do with your candy apples if you want to give them an interesting twist. Just make sure you grease your wax paper if you don’t have any parchment paper.