Toffee Apples and Art Classes

One of the activities I used to do when growing up was Art Classes.  I’ve no idea why as I certainly showed no emerging signs of talent.  I do have a big sister though and she did show signs of talent, or it could have been effort but more likely a combination of the two (she was extremely conscientious).  She went to Art Classes so when I turned seven which was the entry age, I was put in the car and dropped off at the local Art Gallery every Saturday morning where we had lessons.

I wouldn’t have minded if it was more craft oriented but no, there was no gluing or cutting or pasting, these were drawing lessons.  And we did a few in pencil and we then progressed to charcoal and there were a few who were excited about that but I couldn’t stop smudging my masterpieces and I wanted to add a bit of colour.  Where was the blue charcoal?

Toffee Apples

I do remember being asked to draw a poodle and I did like that task as I very much liked dogs but I was sad the entire dog had to be coloured in the one dull colour.  I thought he should have at least been allowed a bright red collar.

There was one boy in the class who was a couple of years older than me who used to get a lot of attention and he was as quiet as a mouse and so well behaved.  But that’s not why Dave had all the teachers hovering over him.  No, this boy was not only calm and polite with respect for elders who always did as he was told, he also had talent.  I remember once he drew a pair of sneakers, all in charcoal of course with no smudgy marks ruining the image, and the teachers all gathered around and exclaimed about how life-like the drawing was and how he had talent beyond his years and how incredible drawn were the laces in the shoes and how brilliantly he’d made use of shadows and could they submit the drawing to the local paper.

A childhood favourite

And the next Saturday the teachers proudly brought in that issue of the Evening Star and passed it around so we could all see the charcoal sneakers forever immortalised in the local paper.

Meanwhile, I had to sit across the table from him with his younger sister beside me who was my age.  She was fidgety and she talked a lot and the artistic genius gene her brother was bestowed clearly skipped over her as she could only muster about as much talent as me.  She would say to me, ‘Dave told me how to do a really good drawing.  You start at the bottom then work your way to the top’.  So, thrilled to have the inside information that we were sure was the missing link, we both started our masterpieces from the bottom and when we were halfway to the top I said, ‘Donna, mine’s getting all smudged’, and she let out a giggle and said, ‘Oh, that’s right, I got it wrong; he said to start at the top and work your way to the bottom’.  So we both had nothing worth framing at the end of that lesson as well.

Crispy fresh apples covered in toffee

I enjoyed sitting next to Donna and listening to her laugh and giggle over just about anything but I found the classes tedious and boring.  I thought they needed livening up and decided if my sister Em could come along, we’d all have much more fun.  When my father came to pick me up we walked out past the reception desk and I boldly went up to the counter and enquired as to whether or not I could bring my sister with me next week.

‘How old is she?’ the director asked.

‘She’s six’.

‘I’m sorry, we don’t take anyone under the age of seven’.

And I brought my fist down hard onto the table, looked the woman in the eye and said, ‘Right, if it’s not good enough for her, it’s not good enough for me’.  And off I walked leaving my father utterly speechless and grovelling some sort of an apology to the poor woman.

But there was a happy resolution.  My father was too embarrassed to have his rude and utterly talentless daughter attend anymore classes so I was never taken back.  It was a win/win for everyone.

What I would have liked in the classes was a bit more colour and these toffee apples would have been perfect.

A healthy treat?

Toffee Apples

Makes:  15 (using small apples)

Degree of Difficulty:  2/5

Cost:  Very inexpensive especially during Autumn when apples are in abundance.

  • 15 green or red apples (I used granny smith and pink lady)
  • 15 sticks
  • 4 cups white sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tspn white vinegar
  • 1 tspn red food colouring

Push a stick into each apple. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper. Place sugar and water into a heavy-based saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring, until sugar has dissolved. Stop stirring. Bring to the boil. Using a wet pastry brush, brush away sugar crystals on sides of saucepan above syrup. Stir in cream of tartar and food colouring.

Reduce heat to low. Simmer toffee for 20 minutes or until it reaches hard crack stage. To check if it has reached this stage, add 1 teaspoon of toffee to a glass of ice-cold water. Remove solidified toffee from water and bend it. The toffee should crack easily and not feel sticky. Once toffee is at this stage, remove from heat immediately.

Wait until toffee stops bubbling then dip 1 apple into toffee. Tip pan on an angle to coat apple in toffee, especially around stick. Place onto prepared baking tray. Repeat with remaining apples. Allow to set at room temperature.

This recipe has been adapted from Taste.

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  1. I felt the same way about piano lessons. I hated them. I was really small and my fingers barely reached the octave. My sister was musically brilliant and went on to have a career in music but it wasn’t for me. I’m glad they made me take the classes (I suppose) but you’d never see me called up to play at a sing along at a party. 🙂

    I haven’t made “candied” apples in a long time but I love them. They require a good toothbrushing when finished. Yours look lovely and very “halloweeny”. (I believe that’s a word.

  2. I think that many of the art lessons of our time were taught by frustrated, talentless teachers who insisted on too many rules and didn’t allow any degree of creativity. A drawing had to be lifelike or it was worthless. A shame that your teacher didn’t believe in colour. It might have changed your mind about the lessons.

  3. Hahaha, I can totally picture little Charlie slamming her fist on the desk. Too cute! These caramel apples look particularly delicious. I’m going to have mini ones as part of my wedding desserts in a couple wks!

  4. So your spunk showed up early! 🙂 What a delightful story. I can just picture an astonished father! I would have been hopeless in an art class at that age, as I’m not any more advanced today! I took “art for elementary children” as a college course in teacher’s education and it was hilarious. You have it, or you don’t! But your artistry does come through every day in your cuisine! And these apples are just perfect. Here you are in spring offering this delicious recipe as a gift to those of us moving into autumn, when caramel apples are a must! Thank you, Charlie. oxo

  5. Cecilia Mary says:

    Ok I am braving the comments thingy again to say LAUGH!!! you and your little fist!! precious..I laughed out loud. I also was talent free both at art and the piano, my ridiculous sister got it ALL.. I hate my sister.. we could make a song from that.. oh it has already been done…see?!.. c

  6. Ashley @ Wishes and Dishes says:

    Loved the story haha. These apples look perfect for fall!

  7. Hello Charlie! Thos 1,000 likes on my blog isn’t about Facebook because I detest facebook. It is about the likes under my posts, if bloggers loved my posts! That’s what it all is about! 🙂 Your toffee apples rock my taste buds!

  8. Victoria at Flavors of the Sun says:

    I don’t see you as rude and talentless–just wonderfully loyal to your sister and with talent just waiting for the proper outlet!

  9. I remember when I was still a kid I ADORED those caramel/toffee dipped fruit in skewers…they were actually one of my favourite street foods.
    Fist down hard onto the table….you know, you have guts and I admire that.

  10. Definitely not talentless my friend, I would frame these toffee apples if I could (a lie I would devour them) 😉

    Choc Chip Uru

  11. thelifeofclare says:

    Oh my god these look amazing! I’ve been seeing toffee apples around quite a bit recently! I really must try them!

  12. SarahKate (Mi Casa-Su Casa) says:

    Awwww… you’re making this American a bit homesick with those toffee apples up there. It seems like no matter how long I live in AU, I’ll never get used to the fact that Oct is now SPRING instead of autumn. I could use a toffee apple right about now!

  13. I was going to blog toffee apples next week! Great minds certainly think alike Charlie 🙂
    My sister majored in art and is very talented, unfortunately I’m stuck on stick figures myself… Lucky I got all the beauty if she got all the brains 🙂

  14. I actually won a drawing contest in school run by my town’s local paper. Some sort of Christmas themed thing and I won a whole heap of chocolate bars (so healthy!)… the best thing of all is though that I neither remember drawing the drawing, nor entering the contest, and yet my name was announced as the winner along with someone else, so to this day I always wonder if I was mixed up with someone else! 😀

  15. Ohhh toffee apples 🙂 they use to be my favourite!!! It still kinda is my favourite hahaha but I just haven’t made it at home before 🙂 These look so pretty and delicious ~ I might try this tonight or tomorrow hehe cuz i have a few apples at home and I just want to get rid of and I think this is a great idea!

    Poor you Charlie for having to go to those art classes >_< and gosh all black and white and drawing with charcoal…I'm glad you spoke out ~

  16. Cass @foodmyfriend says:

    I am no good with art. Even my stick figures look poorly drawn! Maybe I need to practice? I love toffee apples. They are one of my favourite foods.! (things?)

  17. Oh, my gosh…I need one of those apples STAT (using our hospital lingo ;)). My mom and 2 of my 3 sisters are artists. My dad is a physicist with horrible handwriting. Guess whose genes I inherited?

  18. You’ve got cajones, madre! 🙂 I hated drawing class. I love to paint, but hate to draw. I’m not good at technical things.

  19. Claire @ Claire K Creations says:

    My sister took all the artistic talent too Charlie. The best I can do is a stick figure and I’m pretty good at houses too (the ones that are a square with a triangle roof and a chimney). I’d most definitely eat a toffee apple over having to draw something any day! Maybe they should have made you draw sweets that you got to eat at the end of the class?

  20. Juliet Batten says:

    Colour! I’m totally with you there. I laughed at the working from bottom to top instead of the other way round! Now you can be an artist with food and the gorgeous photos you post.

  21. Denise@magnolia verandah says:

    What gorgeous toffee apples – great colour. We were never allowed toffee apples as kids – all that sugar was not good for the teeth – our teeth were guarded like the crown jewels- I guess my mother was right, funny how I have never made them at home and mass produced ones have never appealed to me. Things can change however, especially as yours are such an enticing colour.

  22. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella says:

    ROFL you were a funny one weren’t you! Still are of course but I can imagine their faces when you slammed your little fist down! 😛 Hilarious!!

  23. Mandy - The Complete Cook Book says:

    Oh my, I haven’t enjoyed a toffee apple since I was a young girl – I remember we often just ate the toffee as the apples were usually very sour – too sour even for the contrast of the toffee.
    Hee hee, I can just picture your Dad – good for you being head strong from such an early age Charlie.
    🙂 Mandy xo

  24. Poor Donna. Once you were gone, with whom did she giggle? I would have found an arts class to be a punishment. I’ve no talent in that area at all. I see toffee apples each Autumn but haven’t enjoyed one since I was a boy. Even then, they weren’t a common treat. Mom didn’t want us to have that much sugar. Today, if I can find 14 people to share these with, I’m in!

  25. yummychunklet says:

    Those toffee apples look like works of art!

  26. Sweet Posy Dreams says:

    I always wished I had the artistic gene. My brother was the talented one, and then I married into a family of talented and smart people. I am just lucky they let me hang around.

  27. Oh, how funny. I did art classes for a while too and was terrible at them. I didn’t have a sister to use to get me out of them though, she being 7.5 years younger and thus in quite a different stage across our childhoods!

    Toffee apples take me right back to childhood…that and the challenge of eating them. Delicious but tricky!

  28. I don’t have the artistic gene. However, I recall a person telling me that drawing is about straight lines, curved lines, and proportions …. so trying to draw something you are looking at with that in mind.

  29. Frank @ Kraemers Culinary Blog says:

    Very funny how you ended your art class. I too have very fond memories
    of toffee apples. In fact I haven’t had one in many years. It’s time
    again…Thanks for the recipe.


  1. […] freed up my Saturday mornings by removing myself from Art Classes, my father, who didn’t like us to be idle, would put us all into the Holden (no disc brakes, […]

  2. […] My grandmother called this evening and raved about the bumper crop of apples that was occurring in my native Colorado. Across the globe, Charlie Louie has a way of toffeeing them that will work particularly well for Halloween. […]

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