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Is it apple season yet?

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It happened one day when my daughter wanted a candied apple at the fair. I bought her one. Five minutes later, after walking around the fairgrounds, she said, "Here, Dad, I'm done!" It was the same red, shiny orb I had just bought her, except with an abundance of gnaw marks up one side and down the other. Although a 10 year old with strong teeth, she couldn't penetrate the sweet, hardened glaze. After fretting and fuming to myself for wasted money, I decided to take a stab at it. She was right! Hard as nails, just the way I remembered it as a kid, but lacking one prized, distinctive quality: the bite. I mean the bite of real candied apple. You remember, you get that sweetly hot taste that made this confection true from the melted cinnamon candies that made the thought of a chipped tooth irrelevant. Yup, another shortcut by someone who obviously is out for the money rather than sticking with tradition.

Now The Yankee Chef is all about saving money, but not at the expense of keeping a tradition alive and allowing my children enjoy what we did growing up. So for posterity's sake, here's how to make a great, hard, shiny, sweet, hot, mouth-watering...

Red hot candied apple

I realize not many of us have candy thermometers, but as I say time and time again, take a couple of dollars and buy one. They come in handy at all times of the year, but especially during the holidays when you want to make certain confections for loved ones, or yourself.

  • 3 c. cinnamon red hot candies
  • 1/4 c. water
  • 6 apples
  • 6 craft or popsicle sticks

Insert craft sticks into apples. Line a baking sheet with waxed paper or spray a platter with nonstick cooking spray. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, pour candies and water. Bring to a boil and continue boiling for 3 minutes, or until lumps are gone. You can stir to help break up candy lumps. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

Dip apples in hot liquid, rolling so all sides are coated. Place apples on prepared dish or baking sheet to harden, about 5 minutes.

Caramel apples

  • 6 apples
  • Craft sticks
  • 1 (14 oz.) package individually wrapped caramels, unwrapped
  • 2 T. milk

Remove the stem from each apple and press a craft stick into the top. Spray a baking sheet or large plate with non-stick spray. Place caramels and milk in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 2 minutes, stirring once. Roll each apple quickly in caramel sauce until well coated. Place on prepared sheet or dish to set. They can be rolled in chopped nuts for an added touch of flavor! But remember that they are called apple taffies once you have added nuts.

Decorate any fashion you would like. With the candied apples, you will need to add whichever addition you would like very quickly, before the candy hardens.

Want another great idea? For the candied apple only and with an apple corer, remove core of the apples without going through to the bottom end. When candy has melted, first pour some of the melted red hots into the center of the apples, place the popsicle stick almost all the way and then continue pouring the melted red hots around the apple to coat. Do not attempt to lift the apple; simply pour the melted candy, coating as best as possible. Let harden and then you can lift it up with the stick. When ready to eat, not only will you have the deliciously coated apple to eat without the inedible core, you will have a red hot popsicle to enjoy after.

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