A candy apple is a whole apple dipped in candy. A stick is inserted into the center to make the apple easier to hold while eating. Candy apples are associated with Halloween treats and fairs. Caramel coating and a red candy shell are the two main types of candy used to make a candy apple.
The red coating type of candy apple is made by adding red food coloring to syrup that has reached the "hard crack" stage in candy making. Cinnamon may also be added to the red coating syrup. The "hard crack" stage means that the syrup has boiled to between 295 and 310 degrees Fahrenheit (146-154 degrees Celsius). If a bit of syrup heated at this temperature is put into cold water, the candy ball that forms is hard and cracks easily. The finished red candy apple has a hard, crackly coating that is very crunchy.
The caramel type of coating on a candy apple is much softer than the red type. The caramel is boiled only to the "firm ball" stage in candy making, which is at between 244 and 248 degrees Fahrenheit (118-120 degrees Celsius). A caramel candy apple is also known as a toffee apple, or sometimes a taffy apple. Caramel candy apples may be left plain or rolled into chopped nuts or colored candy sprinkles.
The best kind of apples to use for making candy apples are tarter varieties such as Granny Smith. The tart flavor contrasts nicely with the sweetness of the candy. Look for small, firm apples that are all about the same size.
As far as the sticks go, you can use anything from a large lollipop stick to a chopstick. Many people prefer to use ice pop sticks when making candy apples. You can also buy sticks sold just for the purpose called "candy apple sticks." Some candy apple makers insist that the blossom end is best for inserting the stick, while others say the stem end of the apple should be used to insert the stick. The main thing is to use a sturdy stick that won't bend or break under the weight of the candy apple.