Toffee apples have been enjoyed as a seasonal treat, particularly on Halloween or Bonfire Night, at least since the mid-19th Century. Traditionally thickly coated, dark and shining, the toffee apples of years gone by had quite a different look and taste to the modern lot in their syrupy golds and bright reds, bedazzled with sprinkles or chopped nuts.
This 1920s recipe will soon be 100 years old and is the perfect representation of a real old-fashioned toffee apple. These were what our great grandparents would have licked on their way to watch the fireworks on the 5th November or as they told ghost stories on Halloween. Little apples on sharpened sticks, coated in a treacle toffee as black as tar and smelling of a Tate & Lyle factory, so smooth and gleaming that you could see your reflection in them.
A word of caution, though: these could very well do your teeth in. First, be sure to give the toffee long enough to set after coating the apples. We left ours in the fridge overnight. Even then, take care when taking a bite; not only does the toffee look like glass but it’s also nearly as hard!
Original Recipe: 'Toffee Apples' (Book 4, 1928)
Speed: Around 30 mins | Makes: 4
1 lb / 454g small Eating Apples (we used 4 Braeburns)
1 lb / 454g Black Treacle
1 lb / 454g Demerara Sugar
Some fairly sturdy sharpened wooden sticks
1. Melt the butter in a medium sized or large saucepan over a low heat. Once melted, increase the heat and add the sugar and treacle. Stir gently until this boils and continue to boil for around 15 minutes. If you have a sugar thermometer, it will be ready when the sugar reaches around 150°C / 302°F (hard crack stage). If not, drop a tiny bit in some icy cold water. If the drop immediately sets and becomes brittle, it's ready. Then leave to cool for around 10 minutes in the saucepan.
2. Wipe your apples clean, remove the stalks and pierce a wooden stick through the hole where the stalk was as far as possible without allowing it to come out the other end.
3. Dip the apples into the slightly thickened toffee, spinning slowly to get an even coating. Remove from the toffee and continue to spin, letting any excess drip off back into the pan and slowly cooling the toffee . Be very careful not to get the hot toffee on you - this can burn.
4. Stand the apples upright in a jar placed in the centre of a large plate to set. The plate will collect any drips of toffee. Leave for as long as necessary in a cool place. We left ours in the fridge overnight.
Original Recipes for 'Toffee Apples'
'BOOK 4': Bestway Cookery Gift Book (Third Book) (1928)
By: Best Way
Publisher: Offices of The 'Best Way' Series (Fleetway House, Farringdon Street, London, E.C.4, England, U.K.)