Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Happy Birthday Mac! Celebrate with Delicious Icewine Candied Apples

Everybody has a birthday, even an apple. The MacIntosh is 200! 
Originated at 1800 as a chance seedling by John McIntosh of Dundela, Ontario. Medium size; irregular round shape; green apple with red splash; white, juicy flesh; mildly tart, sweetness as it ripens. Excellent for eating fresh, baking pies and sauces.
I am fortunate enough to live in Southern Ontario, which has the perfect apple growing climate, and I have been invited to join in the festivities by designing a candied apple to help celebrate and promote the humble apple and the upcoming Winter Apple Ball.

No problem, apples are awesome. In a pie, crisp, crumble, salad, and did I mention pie? Of course they are also delicious raw, eaten right out of hand. But add a stick and a decadent candy coating and you have a party, my friend. And what's a party without a little vino? And since we are talking about the best that Ontario has to offer, Icewine is the perfect secret ingredient to my signature candied apples. Brilliant, n'est-ce pas?
Icewine Candied Apples
from the KitchenPuppy test kitchen

You will need:
A small-medium, heavy bottomed pot with a handle. Enamel-coated cast iron is ideal.
Oven mitts.
One large sheetpan, lightly coated with unflavoured vegetable oil.
12 small-medium Ontario apples, washed and dried, free of blemishes, stems twisted off.
Candy thermometer.
12 popsicle or candy sticks

¾ cup Niagara Icewine with brandy. (Or, just Icewine)
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup light (no colour) corn syrup
12 drops red food colouring

Caveat - making candy takes some time and precision. Temperatures get very high and you will want to make sure that you have no small children or animals around, and plenty of undistracted time to devote to the process.

Insert sticks into apples (where the stem was)
Set aside.

Mix sugar, Icewine, corn syrup, and food colouring in the pot. Set on medium heat and stir to combine just until the sugar dissolves. Stop stirring, you will not be stirring for the rest of the process.

You want your mixture to come to 275°F on the candy thermometer. This will take some time, as much as half an hour. Don't worry, it will eventually get there. You may find that when the mixture comes just to the rapid boiling point it will look like it wants to boil over. Just lift the pot (with gloved hand) for a moment and set back down. When it starts the rapid boiling it will settle down. Leave the temperature at medium.

When you get to 275°F, turn the element off. Use a gloved hand to manipulate the pot while you gently twirl your first apple into the mixture, coating it. Let the excess candy drip off into the pot and then set the apple onto the greased pan. Continue until you have finished all of the apples. Let cool.

Cleaning up:
Let the pot come to cool. It may seem like the candy has permanently coated the bottom - but it actually comes off fairly easily. Just fill it up with warm water, let sit, and rinse out. You will likely have to do it several times as layer by layer it dissolves.

Options: You can add some candies to the still sticky candied apples. And for extra flair, you can wrap them in candy-grade plastic and tie with a festive ribbon.

Check out the Ontario Apple Growers Website for nutritional information on your favourite apples, recipes, tips and more!