The tot has a peanut allergy and her school has a policy where if they even think it could have peants (which oddly enough includes movie theater popcorn) they won't let the kids have it. Which is good...except that they don't give the kids anything else. I'm new to the allergy thing and not as savvy about grilling the other parents and having an eternal stash of "okay-to-eat" treats at her school.
After having her come home crying several times because everyone got a cupcake (or popcorn or pie) and she got *nothing,* I decided to be more pro-active this year and sign up more to bring things.
So, when the sign-ups came for the Halloween party I signed up for baked goods. I was going to make brownies from a box, frosted with frosting in a can, and some nice Halloween sprinkles.
Then I saw the recipe for Adam's Scary Apples.
The whole idea of black candy apples using twigs instead of wooden dowels seemed rather fun.
Somehow I decided that I'd make these instead. Only, I decided I'd make them using mini-apples to make them tot size -- 36 of them.
I'd never, ever made anything like this before. I'm still not sure what possessed me to do this.
I bought 36 crab apples, tracked down black food coloring, and bought a candy thermometer. I had the hubby cut me 40 twigs from the tree.
At 9 pm, Thursday night, after the tot was in bed, I started making them for the next day.
I used a wooden dowel to make a hole in each crab apple so I could put the twigs in. It took a loooong time. They also looked more like giant cherries than apples.
Then I started on the candy mixture. I remember making hard-candy type things with my mom when I was small and bringing things to the "soft ball" or "hard crack" stage, but I'd never done anything like this as an adult. I had no idea how long it would take to bring the mixture to 300 degrees.
It took a very, very, very long time.
I also had no idea how hot the plastic top of the candy thermometer gets.
Did I mention I managed to melt half the plastic part of the candy thermometer?
I added the cinnamon oil and decided that I'd do a few red apples for accents first, then add the black food coloring, like it suggested.
I did make the recipe at 1 1/2 (a full recipe plus a half), but it still needed a lot more red food coloring than the recipe called for.
The first few went really well. They looked all red and shiny--like giant cherries.
Then, following the instructions, I reheated the mixture and added the black food coloring. I didn't even measure and I just added half the bottle to make it nice and black.
But I didn't realize that I should re-heat the mixture back up to 300 degrees.
At about the third black apple the mixture started crystallizing and getting really goopy. Actually, it looked really cool, like they were creepy poison apples.
Re-heating it restored the mixture and made more shiny apples. But I also didn't realize that I'd need to reheat it after every couple of apples.
It was also really hard to coat them all by simply dipping it in the pan and rolling them around (and these were tiny apples, I have no idea how'd you coat big ones.) The candy cake cooling on the spoon and getting hard (it is hard candy). That got frustrating. I'm sure there's a trick, but I don't know what it is.
I also didn't realize how hot the mixture was and accidentally burned several figures while trying to coat the apples.
It probably wasn't a good idea to make them on the tray I was going to take them to school on, since if they get too close while cooling they stick together.
Oh, and the biggest thing?
I had no idea it would take nearly three hours to make them.
But, melted candy thermomotor, sticky mess, and three burned fingers aside, I think they turned out pretty well -- not perfect like in the food blog, but good enough for my first attempt.
What do you think?
The tot loved them. The kids at school also thought they were nice and spooky. Not all the kids liked them, but not everyone likes candy apples or cinnamon. That was why I made tiny ones.
All-in-all, I think they were a big hit.
I did get some dirty looks from other mommies at drop-off. These one-upped the store bought cupcakes with spider rings on them big time.
I'm still not sure what possessed me to go all June Cleaver and spend three hours making candy apples instead of baking brownies.
Will I make them again next year?
If someone asks, sure. I might even add some gummy worms as decoration.
But this time I'll try not to melt anything or burn any fingers.