Good Question: Miniature Candied Apples and Sugar Syrup

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Inspired by these candied apples, Sarah had a charming idea: miniature candied apple bites. But she ran into a problem, and needs some help. She writes:

So all the talk of candied apples had me excited to put my own spin on them. I cater baked goods for businesses here in Kansas City, and I wanted to add something seasonally hip and fun. So I chose to try a mini-candied apple. I used a melon baller and cut balls out of each apple.

Click through for more pictures of her mini-apples, her dilemma, and our thoughts...

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Then I made the yummy candied part and dipped and shook and finally ended up with them to cool on my Silpat. It was way cute... And then my heart sank. Apparently the candied sugar wasn't sticking to the apple. It stuck to the stick and stuck to the apple skin that was on the bottom of each piece...but not to the cut sides of the apple.

Before coating the apples in candy I had rolled them in lemon juice so they didn't brown up, but I also patted them dry... so they shouldn't have been wet.

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Does anyone have a suggestion to help remedy my problem? I would really like them to work out! I had thought about possibly rolling them in powdered sugar or cornstarch before hand, I don't know enough about sugar properties to take a step in the right direction on this one!

Here is the flickr set with some documentation of what happened. I guess either way my kitchen was sporting some fall color. Any help would be great thanks!

Dear Sarah,
Even with the sugar syrup rolling off the apple, we still think your project is ultra-cute. Here are a few thoughts.

• Are you quite sure the syrup made it to the hard-crack stage? Make sure your sugar is hot enough; it should harden immediately and impermeably around anything at that point. Use a candy thermometer to make sure the sugar gets to 310ºF. Check out this Sugar Candy Chart for more information.

• You also want to make sure your sugar is at the right concentration. For making a shell like this you really need to start with almost 100% sugar - no added water or liquids. If you've heated sugar to the hard crack stage that means almost all water has evaporated out, but if you add food coloring or flavorings at this point it could dilute the syrup.

• Also, lemon juice is an acid and it is used in early stages of candy-making to prevent crystallization. It may have interfered with the sugar setting as well.

• And finally, yes, moisture can also interfere. We would suggest patting the apple balls very dry, and even putting them in the oven on low heat to dry out for ten minutes or so. This will make them less juicy, but no less crunchy.

• One other expert suggestion we received was to store the apples after and before with a desiccant - silica gel or something else that will dry them out. Silica gel, however, is not edible, so it can be in the same box but not eaten or allowed to touch the apples at all.

Edited to add: Sarah also tried caramel but it slid off even worse than the candy.

• And one more idea: If you haven't tried this already, try double-dipping. Dip, let cool slightly, then dip again.

Any other thoughts for Sarah and her project?

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Faith is the executive editor of The Kitchn and the author of three cookbooks. They include Bakeless Sweets (Spring 2013) as well as The Kitchn's first cookbook, which will be published in Fall 2014. She lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband Mike.

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