One of my most favourite childhood food memories would have to be toffee. I LOVED everything about it, ( the preparation, watching transfixed as the mountain of fine white crystals melted into trickles and waves, resisting but finally giving in to the heat and transforming into a bubbling torrent of sweet, golden, viscous lava). I too once had a close encounter of the stove-top toffee kind, where impatiently trying to spoon some still-hot liquid into my mouth I missed and got my thigh instead. Probably just as well, although the welt and consequent blister and bubble that formed provided me with hours of entertainment but thank goodness I missed my mouth. Ouch!
I craved the strangely iridescent green and red variety, coating what otherwise would have been a really healthy apple (at that age all food was good to eat as long as it tantalized my tastebuds, I was so blissfully unaware) or the little patty-cake case full of hard, dense, caramelized sugar, usually decorated with yet another form of sugar, in what I regarded as the ultimate celebratory food exclamation mark, otherwise known as hundreds-and-thousands or if you’re from the northern hemisphere, sprinkles. Both were a tooth-challenge. Depending on how it was prepared and/or stored it was either the tooth-achingly tug-of-war kind where you thought that one of your teeth just might end up attached to it ( fabulous for wobbly but obstinate teeth though) or the rock-hard, your-teeth are-about-to-splinter-any-second kind. Either way, what they had in common was the occasional split-seconds of panic, thinking you’d really done it now, imagining yourself presenting to your dentist to get yourself out of your sweet-induced mess.
I was walking through my local supermarket a few weeks ago and as I was grabbing some apples, caught sight of those old and true toffee apples and sighed nostalgically. Then I got really excited as I had a light-bulb moment. I’d used honey successfully before as a sugar substitute. There was no reason it wouldn’t work again. Well, I’m happy to say that I’ve now made sugar-free toffee apples twice now. The first time, the toffee wasn’t as hard, but more of a chewy caramel. It coated reasonably well and once it had cooled down I wrapped them in grease-proof (baking) paper and the caramel stuck reasonably well and hardened on the apple. Still not the crunchy toffee that we know, though. The second time the ratio of honey used was much higher and I’m happy to say they were exactly as I was hoping; lovely, crunchy and hard. I did however prefer the butterscotch flavor of the first caramel lot. Up to you to try and taste-test. Enjoy!
Ingredients for Traditional Crunchy Sugar-free Toffee Apples (for 6 apples)
- 250g (1/2 jar) good quality honey
- 20g butter
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 6 small/medium apples
- 6 wooden sticks/skewers
- Wash apples well and dry.
- Pull off tops of stems.
- Push skewers into apples (from the top where stem was, careful not to push through right to the other end, just stopping short of this).
- Bring honey, butter and ACV to boil on a medium heat, stirring.
- Allow to simmer on a lower heat, stirring well until it thickens considerably (this should take about 15 minutes or so) You’ll know that its ready when it easily coats and sticks to the wooden spoon. Careful not to burn though.
- Have a tray ready lined with grease-proof/baking paper.
- Tilt the saucepan as you take the apples by the skewers and roll them in the liquid until well-coated.
- Continue with all apples, placing onto tray as you finish.
- Depending on the amount of apples, you may need to re-heat the mixture quickly towards the end of a batch to make sure apples coat properly.
- Once they’ve cooled ( maybe half an hour), wrap and twist each apple individually in grease-proof paper and store in a cool, dry place. (they were fine in both fridge and pantry, depends on the season and temperature).
They are best consumed within several days as otherwise the apples start to soften. Enjoy and let me know how you go!
Ingredients for Salted-Caramel Variation ( Butterscotch Toffee Apples)
- 250g (1/2 jar) honey
- 250g butter
- 1/2-1 teaspoon salt crystals
Exactly the same as above, making sure the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. You can see in the picture above that they are definitely more opaque and caramel compared to the straight toffee apples.
This article originally appeared on my blog, kitchencorrespondent.co which you will find at http://www.kitchencorrespondent.co
Published by Tania N