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Course: Sweets
Keyword: Atomic Candy Apples, Candy, Desserts, Fall, Hacks, Halloween, Make-Ahead

Atomic Candy Apples

Alton Brown's Atomic Apples Recipe
ACTIVE TIME: 40 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 40 minutes
Yield: 6 servings
Surprisingly spicy cinnamon candy apples — the perfect Halloween prank.
All my life I’ve loved Halloween and when I was a kid, nothing, and I mean nothing, was better than trick-or-treating. I’ll never forget the night while trying to peer through the eyeholes in my skeleton mask, I fished out what appeared to be a red jawbreaker. Feeling adventurous, I popped it in and commenced sucking. At first, it was all cinnamon-y goodness, but then, suddenly, the bottom dropped out and there was a horrible, flesh-searing pain, as though someone were putting a cigarette out on my tongue. And yet…and yet…I kinda liked it.
That was my first Atomic Fireball. I’ve attempted to replicate that experience in what appear to be harmless candy apples.
You just can’t make these candy apples without cinnamon oil, which is conveniently available at many a megamart, as well as the internet.
Both U.S. standard and metric measurements are listed, but for consistent results, go metric.
This recipe first appeared in Season 14 of Good Eats.
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  • 6 small apples, such as Pink Lady, Gala or McIntosh, at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/3 cups light corn syrup
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon oil
  • 15 to 20 drops red liquid food coloring

Specialized Hardware

6 (3 pairs) chopsticks
Alton Brown's Atomic Apples Recipe
ACTIVE TIME: 40 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 40 minutes
Yield: 6 servings


  • Put 3 inches of water in a 3 1/2-quart saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Insert the narrow end of a chopstick into the bottom blossom end of each apple. Dip the apples, 1 at a time, into the boiling water for 20 seconds to remove the wax coating. Wipe dry with a paper towel. Transfer apples to a half-sheet pan lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat and set aside.
  • Combine the sugar, corn syrup, and water in a 2-quart saucepan and set over medium heat. Cover and bring it to a boil, 4 to 6 minutes. Remove the lid and continue cooking the syrup until it reaches 300ºF on a digital instant-read thermometer, approximately 15 minutes. When the syrup reaches temperature, take the pot off the heat and remove the thermometer. Add the cayenne, cinnamon oil, and food coloring, stirring thoroughly to combine. Cool until the bubbles calm and begin to subside, about 3 minutes.
  • Dip each apple in the warm syrup, turning slowly to coat. Continue to turn, allowing the excess to drip back into the pot. Cool the apples completely on the prepared half-sheet pan. Wrap individually in waxed paper and plastic wrap, or store for 2 to 3 days in an airtight container.
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