Toffee-apples go back to the days of country fairs, and are traditionally made on Guy Fawkes Day in England. Personally I think they're a very easy way to win friends, so next time you're off to a party make these and see how popular you become - particularly with men in their fifties, like my husband. Toffee-apples also make a great gift - just wrap the them in cellophane and tie with a ribbon. When it comes to nutrition,it's a mixed bag. on the one hand, you're peddling pure sugar, but you're also encouraging a child to eat an apple, which in my book makes for an ideal party food. I don't like children eating artificial flavourings, so I left out the food colouring and used a teaspoon of beetroot juice instead - but it had no effect. I think they look fine toffee coloured.
- Put the sugar, vinegar, butter and water into a saucepan. Heat gently, stirring constantly until the sugar dissolves.
- Add cream of tartar and bring to the boil. Do not stir. Let mixture boil until the hard-crack stage - this usually happens at 146 degC to 154 degC. You can check the temperature by dropping a spoonful into a bowl of cold water. When ready, it will form brittle threads in the water. This takes about 20 minutes.
- While it's boiling, push an ice-block stick into the stem end of each apple.
- Remove pan from heat and tilt slightly. Dip the apples one by one into the toffee, turning slowly to coat.
- Make sure you let the excess drain off, otherwise you will have apples sitting in a pool of toffee. Place on a sheet of baking paper and leave until cold. If you have any toffee left over, pour it onto some baking paper and let set. Then you can break it with a hammer into lots of delicious little lollies. You can also add chopped nuts.