Whimsical Pastel Swirl Cotton Candy Apples

So I lied. This recipe isn’t really spooky at all! I had serious intentions of making a super-eery Halloween-inspired confection, but here’s the thing: in my world, Halloween isn’t necessarily filled with orange, black, witches and ghosts, but rather two small girly cakelets masquerading as fairies and quirky princesses with ensembles slightly askew. When I was reflecting on what I find most spooky (and yet most enchanting), my mind kept wandering to the world of the vintage carnival–the world of strange whimsy and a balance of mad and wonderful. (This is actually one of several sweets I envisioned, so I hope to share a few more.) For the swirly effect, I looked to one of my favourite colour-schemes found in the Pastel Swirl Cake I shared this past summer. Much like with the cake technique, I love that each apple becomes a one-of-a-kind, and that you can create a completely different look by simply using different colours.

A Pastel Swirl Cotton Candy Apple is an almost-traditional candy apple in the sense that it’s a fresh apple on a stick, dipped and coated in a sugar mixture that’s brought to the hard-crack stage. The difference is that, in this case, we play with flavour by adding a cotton candy flavoured oil, and colour by whitening the coating and then adding a few drops of other colours to create a swirl effect. Top that with a generous array of actual cotton candy and sprinkles, and whimsy prevails.

It’s almost hard to imagine that under all of that shiny pastel coating and feathery cotton candy fluff, there sits these innocent green apples. Tart, crisp, healthy and unsuspecting 80-calorie-apples. Muahahahahaha. Now, there are a bazillion candy apple recipes out there, but for the candy coating I used that of my dear friend, Heather. In her incredible first book, SprinkleBakes: Dessert Recipes to Inspire Your Inner Artist, she shares a recipe for the most stunning and elegant Snow Apples (pure white candy apples with swirly sticks and white glitter!), so I followed her steps for creating the candy coating. It worked like a dream. You might remember my talking about her book back when I used her fabulous French macaron recipe for my Lemon-Blueberry Macaron Delight Cake. Her recipes never let me down.

And what every Whimsical Pastel Swirl Cotton Candy Apple maker needs is their own fairy assistant. I just recommend the fairies tend to their fairy business while the hot candy apple coating process is underway. This particular cakelet-fairy was in charge cotton candy quality control, and assisting with adorning the coated apples with the finishing touches. I’ve been kind of obsessed with cotton candy for most of my life, likely for the same reason most people are. It’s as beautiful as it is sugary-awesome, and it’s a rare indulgence. I recently bought this amazing Candy Cotton Candy Maker, which is a whole other adventure, but for this recipe I bought a small tub of store-bought cotton candy. I found that the store-bought variation lasts a little bit longer atop the apples than homemade before it starts to break down and dissolve. I find that if you add the cotton candy within an hour of serving, it holds up relatively well.

And of course allowing me to snap photos of her frolicking in pastel apple glee. You might notice in this photo that some of the apples, depending on how you swirl/coat them, have a much more contrast-y effect (which I love!). The apples’ fate is completely based upon your colour choices and each one can be a little, tasty work of art.

For those wondering, Neve chooses to wear this fairy outfit on an almost-daily basis, so I swear there was no crazy mommy-driven costume bribes going on here. It doesn’t always work out that way, but sometimes it just does. And for the record, my cakelets eat about 10% of the treats that I make. They almost always test a bite or two, but rarely eat an entire dessert in one sitting. It’s kind of how we make it through this thing I call Sweetapolita with our teeth and health in tact.

Wishing you a whimsical weekend! ♥

Here’s the recipe for the apples. As I mentioned, the coating base of the recipe comes from SprinkleBakes: Dessert Recipes to Inspire Your Inner Artist, combined with my instructions for creating this bizarre and delightful confection.

Whimsical Pastel Cotton Candy Apples


  • 6 medium granny smith apples (or variation of choice), washed, dried and stems removed
  • 3 cups (600 g)(1 lb + 5 oz) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (237 mL) water
  • 1/2 cup (118 mL) light corn syrup
  • 1 dram bottle (3/4 teaspoon)(3.75 mL) cotton-candy candy flavour oil
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) bright white soft gel food colour, plus 2-3 additional colours of choice
  • cotton candy
  • glitter/sprinkles of choice
  • You will also need:
  • candy thermometer
  • heatproof rubber spatula
  • pastry brush
  • 6 medium cookie sticks
  • 6 paper straws (optional)
  • scissors (for trimming straws)
  • silicone baking mat (optional)


  1. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or a baking sheet greased with shortening.
  2. Insert the cookie sticks about 3/4 of the way into each apple, but be sure the stick doesn't come out the bottom. (You might need to use a metal skewer to pierce each apple prior to inserting the sticks.) Place prepared apples close to the stovetop, as you will need to move quickly once the candy coating is ready to go.
  3. In a medium heavy-bottom saucepan combine the sugar, water and corn sryrup. Brush the sides of the saucepan with a damp pastry brush to rid of stray sugar crystals. Turn the heat to medium-high and clip on a candy thermometer (be sure the thermometer doesn't touch the bottom of the saucepan).
  4. Let the mixture bubble and cook undisturbed until the thermometer reaches 302°F (hard crack stage). In the meanwhile, get your flavour oil and colours ready to go.
  5. When the candy coating has reached 302°F, promptly remove from heat and stir in the flavour oil, followed by the white colour, using a heatproof rubber spatula. Once the white is blended completely, quickly add a drop or two of your favourite food gel colours, but this time do not stir the coating. You can swirl the saucepan once or twice, or use a skewer to marble the colours, but be sure not to over-blend, or you will end up with a solid colour.
  6. Holding the handle of the saucepan with one hand, tilt so the coating pools to one side, and dip/swirl each apple until thoroughly coated. Let the excess coating drip back into the saucepan, and set aside on prepared baking sheet.
  7. When ready to serve, pierce a poof or two of cotton candy and slide down each stick to sit atop the apples. Adorn with sprinkles or glitter of choice.
  8. If using patterned paper straws, simply slide the straw over the cookie stick and trim the tops of each straw to match the height of the stick underneath.


[candy coating base recipe from the book Sprinkle Bakes: Dessert Recipes to Inspire Your Inner Artist]


Sweetapolita’s Notes:
Good luck & enjoy!

Share the Sweetness!


  1. says

    Gorgeous, gorgeous!:) I’ve never thought about coating an apple this way…It looks so cute! You always surprise me, Rosie! That’s why I love your blog SO much. And your little fairy is the most beautiful fairy I’ve ever seen (and I’ve seen a few, haha)
    Happy weekend!

  2. Mary says

    Totally amazing!!!!! These look scrumptious! I am so glad that Neve loves her fairy costume…it suits her perfectly. What a beauty:). xo

  3. says

    AMAZING! they may not be “spooky” but definitely surreal, would be great for an alice in wonderland party, too! Neve is such a beautiful kid! “Vintage carnival” is very apt… happy halloween to you and your little cakelets! ^__^

  4. Cat says

    Absolutely adorable! Your fairy even more so, and it looks like she’s grown just a teensy bit! Beautiful blog post, can’t wait to make these.

  5. says

    These take the traditional caramel coated candy apple to levels fit for royalty (a little princess or two to be exact). Wonderful post and the sweetest pictures of your little cakelet.

  6. Mary Sanavia says

    These look so fun and cute! plus, you can use whatever colors you like. I was just wondering how much white did you need for them, if you can remember of course. (drops, teaspoons grams…).
    They look like something from a dream….beautiful.

  7. anna says

    Once again, I am amazed. You are so creative. And as far as explaining that your kids don’t eat all of your delicious goodies – I think we all know you’re a smart responsible mama! My kids don’t even want to eat what I bake so in that respect I think I got pretty lucky because they don’t complain when I tell them they can’t have any :) Have a great Halloween season and I can’t wait to see what you come up with next – these apples are just tooooooo incredible! Thanks for sharing!

  8. says

    You always come up with such fun whimsical ideas. Your kids must have a total blast with you and you with them. Love these apples. When I was a little girl we had a cotton candy machine and we would hold movies in our basement for the entire neighborhood to come and watch. We’d make cotton candy and popcorn with our life size popcorn machine. It was so much fun The cotton candy machine was my favorite and these apples really do bring back memories of those days – so long ago!

    Your daughter is beautiful and with her hair on top of her head and those big blue eyes she reminds me of Pebbles from the Flintstones.

  9. simone ng says

    Lovely ! Can’t wait to make some to surprise my friends on the upcoming Halloween Party !! TQ So Much for the idea !! ^^

  10. Lily says

    Hi Rosie! I’m a big fan of your website and check it almost daily! I would just like to know how to take a cake recipe for two 9 inch or 8 inch round cakes, and make it enough for one 10 inch, one 8 inch, and one 6 inch cake? Double by 1 1/2 maybe?? I plan on making a tiered birthday cake for my sister. Thanks so much! Love your blog, recipes, and of course, your gorgerous photos!! :)

  11. says

    Oh! These are so gorgeous and magical! This is MY kind of Halloween treat!!

    Thank you, thank you for trying out the recipe and sharing here. I love you. No lie.


  12. says

    Perfectly perfect. And so fitting for two little princesses. Love how whimsical they are. Mostly though I love how beautiful they look and how creative you are. Another stunner.

  13. says

    These are the first non-traditional-carmel-apples I’ve seen for fall, such a cute idea! However, although those apples look quite scrumptious, the darling cakelet in these pics far outshines them. She is just adorable!

  14. Susana Carmo says

    You are truly talented…never stop working your magic in the kitchen and sharing your gift. Every time I see your creations it inspires me.

  15. says

    Love, love, love….EVERYTHING!! At first sight I thought these beautiful apples were covered in white chocolate! What a brilliant idea as now they are much easier to handle and will not melt to the touch. Stunning photography as always and you have the most adorable assistants that just add to the entire post – you are one very lucky mama! You are a true inspiration with your ideas and your photography…Thank You Rosie!!

  16. says

    so amazing! I’ve loved candy apples since I was a kid and can only imagine how wonderful these taste. Pretty pics too. And your cakelet is adorable, Rosie!!

  17. Kendra says

    Whenever I hit the “blog” button at the top of your page, I get directed to this post. I know you’ve posted things since Oct 13th?

  18. says

    I just made these and I will photograph them, but I got some bubbles in the candy coating! What causes that and how do I remedy that? These are super cute and were super fun to make!!

  19. ta; says

    Hey there’
    First of all you have an amazing blog..such a pleasure!!
    I have one question about one of the ingredientS, i cant find anywhere in Israel dram bottle cotton-candy flavour oil, is it such necessary for the recipe? can you think of replacement/substitute for this?
    thanks a lot!

  20. Samantha says

    Hi. Why does the recipe ask for bright white color? What does it do if I’m trying to adhesive pink?
    Thanks so much Sweetopia :)

  21. Rebecca says

    These are gorgeous and I’m making them for my daughters 2nd birthday party. Using the exact recipe and colors you used. I understand it’s 2 tablespoons for the bright white soft gel.. My question is do I also use 2 tablespoons for each of the colored gel paste that I add (violet, electric pink, sky blue)?

  22. Kasha says

    Hi, I have to say these are beautiful, however, I have just attempted them and not sure what I have done wrong, but when I added my white (Wiltons White/White), it turned into a light cream colour, I did then add some wilton paste colour, which didnt adhear to the apple. Think it maybe the colours I am using, what do you think??

  23. Diana says

    any tips on how to prevent air bubbles? i have a big event coming up and any suggestions would be helpful!

  24. Shay says

    Hi, my name is Shay and i just wanted you to know that i love this idea and i love the colors. So I made some candy apples for my son birthday party and i use the American bright white food coloring the apples came out good but the bright white food coloring left an bitter after taste. I was trying to find out why and what do i need to do to make sure that it want happen again.

  25. Kami says

    First off I just want to say that I am in awe of your work everything you do is absolutely BEAUTIFUL! I just recently made an attempt on making these gorgeous apples this weekend as I can’t report a success story but it wasn’t an absolute fail either. I think I let the coating cook a little to long so it got thick and stiff very very quickly and I was only able to cover 4 apples properly and three out of four of them also bubbled up. Do you have any suggestions on how to prevent the bubbles. 1 last question how long after coating the apples should you to cover them in cellophane/plastic? I Let mines sit out at room temperature over night before trying to wrap them and they were extremely sticky and the white color seemed to immediately sweat off onto the wrappers. Any suggestions on how to prevent that? oh BTW I used the AmeriColor soft gel colors

  26. says

    These are so so gorgeous and your little fairy assistant is adorable :)
    I’ve been a huge fan of both candy and caramel apples, but have never attempted it because I’m a little scared of making candy :/ But these look too good to pass up!!

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