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Crazy and Delightful Candy Apple Toppings

candy apple toppings

Photo courtesy of Arina Habich on Flickr

In 1908, Newark candy maker William W. Kolb was looking for ways to promote his red cinnamon candy. He dipped skewered whole apples in his red candy mixture and displayed them in his store window.1 Little did he know that he was creating a tradition that would stand the test of time. It is now over 100 years later and autumn festivities like Halloween and Guy Fawkes will not be the same without Kolb’s candy apples.

The traditional candy apple recipe is made with sugar syrup flavored with cinnamon. Food coloring is added to make it a glistening bright red. The best apples to use for this treat are the tart and crunchy variety like Granny Smith, not the soft and mushy types like Red delicious2 or the baking type like Rome3. As with many popular dessert inventions, the candy apple evolved into many variations that are largely influenced by many cultural and geographical factors.

Crushed cookies or candy bars like Skittles, M&Ms and Butterfinger are common toppings for candy apples, and they work great!4 However, there are some “unexpected” toppings that turn out surprisingly delightful. Hardly mainstream but popular in their own right, these toppings were introduced by people who grew up loving the familiar ingredients and flavors from their childhood.


The tamarindo candy apple is actually a whole apple covered with tamarindo paste and coated with chili powder. It is a uniquely Mexican spin to the popular red cinnamon candy apple. It is a wonderful marriage of the apple’s sweet-tart taste complemented by the sweet-sour tamarind flavor and the extra kick from the chili powder.

Paprika and Cashew

Instead of red food coloring, this candy apple version uses smoked paprika to color the sugar syrup red. Water is also substituted with apple juice.5 Another variation would be to use cayenne pepper6 instead of paprika. It is made pretty much the same way as the classic candy apple, but it is further garnished with a coating of chopped roasted cashew nuts. The combination of flavors and   textures makes this candy apple version a truly unique treat.


A final coating of crunchy bacon bits takes the traditional candy apple recipe up a notch in the flavors department. The tartness of the apple goes perfectly well with the sweet candy coating, but by adding a sprinkling of bacon as a final salty touch, the flavors assaulting one’s senses at even the first bite will make this candy apple everybody’s top favorite.


Bright red candy apples coated with pristine white coconut flakes are an irresistible sight. The contrast of white on red is reminiscent of Christmas and all the wonderful celebrations associated with it. A bite of the succulent, juicy apple underneath the sweet crunch of the red candy coating will slowly merge with the creamy richness that only fresh coconut flakes can offer. Every bite will be pure bliss!

Such is the popularity of candy apples that they evolved into other versions that have grown distinct “personalities” of their own, like the equally well-loved caramel  apple or its close cousins toffee apples and jelly apples.7 They may be similar in principle but these apple desserts are truly distinct from one another.

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