Bewitched Apples

Fall’s in the air and Halloween’s only about three weeks away, so it’s a good time to craft a cheery bouquet of candied apples. In Italy, they’re called “mele stregate,” or “bewitched” or “enchanted” apples, and they’re made a bit differently then they are here in the States. Instead of using red food dye to color the caramel, Italians use Alchermes, a slightly bitter, ruby-red liqueur.

Here’s a bit of fun Halloween trivia I like to feed my unsuspecting guests just after they’ve enjoyed their first bite of bewitched apple: the red coloring in the Alchermes is made from the cochineal, a tiny red insect. No kidding. But I tell them not to worry – it’s obviously perfectly safe. Cackle, cackle, cackle…

Makes 4 apples

4 organic apples (I like the Braeburn and Pink Lady varieties)
½ cup sugar
¼ cup Alchermes
½ cup water
1 cinnamon stick

1. Prepare the apples: wash and dry thoroughly, and skewer onto thick wooden or plastic sticks.

2. To make the caramel, place the liquid ingredients (alchermes and water) into a small pan along with the sugar and cinnamon, and caramelize. Remove the cinnamon stick with a pair of small tongs (or you’ll burn your fingers).

3. While still hot, swirl the apples in the caramel to coat completely and place the apples on a flat surface covered with wax paper. Let the apples cool completely.

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