Candied apples get their smooth coating not from oil, but from cooked sugar. When sugar is boiled with water, it becomes shiny and slick. Depending on how long you cook it, it may keep a creamy texture or cool to a crisp, hard coating. Corn syrup plays an important role in making candied apples -- one that can't be duplicated by corn oil.
Corn Syrup vs. Corn Oil
Corn oil and corn syrup are completely different products with different tastes, textures and purposes. The two aren't interchangeable. Corn oil comes from the germ of the corn kernel. It has a mild odor and flavor and a slick, oily consistency. Corn syrup is a thick, sticky product derived from cornstarch. It contains 15 to 20 percent glucose and it has a mildly sweet flavor.
Role in Baking
Not only are the ingredients and manufacturing of corn oil and corn syrup different, but they play different roles in the kitchen. Corn oil is used most frequently to fry foods, in salad dressings or in baked goods. Corn oil adds moisture and richness to quick breads and helps bind other ingredients together. Corn syrup is most commonly used in making candies and confections. Unlike regular granulated sugar, which tends to crystallize when it's heated at high temperatures, corn syrup, which is an invert sugar, stays smooth and can prevent sugar from crystallizing when the two are mixed together. Corn syrup is added to candied apple recipes simply to create a smooth, glossy candy surface.
Alternatives to Corn Syrup
Although you can't replace corn syrup with corn oil, you might be able to substitute other products. If the recipe calls for just a spoonful or so of corn syrup, add a pinch of cream of tartar instead. The acid in cream of tartar prevents sugar from crystallizing and is often used in candy-making. If a recipe calls for more corn syrup, make your own invert cane syrup instead. Combine sugar, water and a bit of cream of tartar and salt in a pan. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook it until a candy thermometer clipped to the pan reads 240 degrees Fahrenheit. Allow the syrup to cool and pour it into glass jars for storage. When stored at room temperature, invert syrup will last at least three months. Substitute equal amounts of homemade cane syrup for corn syrup in your candied apple recipe.
Corn Syrup Myths
You may have heard that high fructose corn syrup can cause obesity or contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes, but don't panic if your candied apple recipe calls for corn syrup. The corn syrup you'll find in the grocery store isn't the same thing as high fructose corn syrup, which goes through further processing to increase its sweetness. Although corn syrup is not a health food, it probably won't harm you in the small amounts called for in a candied apple recipe. When eaten in moderation with healthier foods, homemade candied apples can be a fun, once-in-a-while treat.
- Photo Credit Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images