Childhood memories, funnel cakes and glitter.
Put all those things in a mason jar and shake well. That’s what it’s like at the Tennessee Valley Fair.
It’s an atmosphere of happy squeals, mechanical clicks/whooshes, the smell of funnel cakes and hot sugar being spun into cotton candy. This year’s take-home treats? Candied apples and a monster bag of cotton candy.
But it wasn’t enough. I didn’t get my fill of carnival food so I decided to make my own at home.
Classic candied apples are cinnamon-y, crunchy and have a slightly sticky candy coating. I have a dip-and-swirl technique which creates a thin layer of candy over the apple. This is key. No double-dipping or the candy will become an impenetrable force. And what good is that?
The popcorn balls are only classic in their shape. Instead of sticky boiled corn syrup, these are held together with a mixture of melted marshmallows and butter. They are more like a rice crispy treat but made with salty popcorn instead of cereal.
And don’t forget the sprinkles!
Classic Candied Apples
Yield: 8 Candied Apples [click for printable version]
Adapted from the SprinkleBakes book
8 pink lady or Fuji apples
8 sturdy wooden pop sticks
1/2 cup clear (light) corn syrup
3 cups sugar
1 cup water
1/4-1/2 tsp. cinnamon flavoring oil
1/2 tsp. red food coloring
Jimmies and nonpareils, if desired
Note: Buy organic apples if possible to avoid the food grade wax that is applied to apples. The candy won’t adhere to the waxy surface
- Grease a jelly-roll pan well with vegetable shortening and set aside.
- Clean and dry the apples well. Remove the apple stems and carefully punch a slit in the top with a knife for the pop sticks to be inserted. Insert sticks into guide slit and lift each apple to make sure each can securely be picked up. Set aside.
- Combine the corn syrup, water and sugar in a medium saucepan with a handle. Heat at medium-high until the sugar has dissolved. Increase the heat and bring mixture to a boil.
- The sugar mixture will take about 20-25 minutes to reach 302 degrees F. on a candy thermometer. This is known as the hard-crack stage.
- Once the correct temperature has been reached, remove the pan from the burner and add the cinnamon flavoring and food coloring. Mix well. Mixture is ready for dipping when the bubbles have subsided.
- Dip apples, one at a time, swirling until completely coated in syrup. Dip them only once! Double dipping will make them too hard. Hold apples above saucepan to let excess candy drain off. As you work, you may need to tilt the saucepan to pool the candy to one side. This will help ensure all apples get a full coating as your mixture gets lower.
- Place the apples on the prepared jelly-roll pan and allow to dry. Pour equal amounts of jimmies and nonpareils in a small bowl and dip the bottoms of the apples into the mix. Place in decorative candy or cupcake papers.
Marshmallow Popcorn Balls
Yield: 8-10 Popcorn Balls
1/4 cup (1/2
stick) unsalted butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt
12 cups buttery popcorn, popped
- Place a large saucepan over medium heat and add butter.
Stir until melted. Add marshmallows,
vanilla and salt. Heat until
marshmallows are completely melted and mixture is well incorporated, stirring
- Place popped popcorn in large bowl. Add marshmallow
mixture on top and toss with two wooden spoons to coat.
- Shape into 8-10 large balls with well-buttered
hands. Place on sheets of parchment paper and sprinkle with nonpareils if desired; let stand until firm
Supplies for Candied Apples and Marshmallow Popcorn Balls: