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]

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Sweetapolita’s Notes:
Good luck & enjoy!

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  1. 1

    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. 2

    Wow! Your genius never ceases to amaze me! I absolutely love this idea!

  3. 3

    I want to live in your world :) Everything is hazy and lovely and sprinkle coated. sigh.

  4. 4


  5. 5

    Those look so BEAUTIFUL!

  6. 6

    they are beautiful! the apples and your sweetie!! love the swirl look :)

  7. 7
    Crystal Kelsey says:

    These are too cute thanks so much !!

  8. 8

    Oh my gosh, these are so cute! I love the candy apple and cotton candy combination. It’s so creative! And I love the colors too. They look great with the cloud background. So cute! :)

  9. 9

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

  10. 10

    My mind is totally blown these are beautiful!!! I think I will try these for some of my homemade Christmas gifts

  11. 11

    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! ^__^

  12. 12

    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.

  13. 13

    Another beautiful work of art Rosie!

  14. 14

    These are so freakin adorable ♥

  15. 15


  16. 16

    Who needs spooky when you can have whimsy? Adore these.

  17. 17

    You are AMAZING! These are so beautiful!

  18. 18

    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.

  19. 19
    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.

  20. 21

    Those are both very mental, and very awesome at the very same time!

  21. 22

    These are really pretty! I’m thinking they might also be a good confection for Easter!

  22. 23

    too cute girl!

  23. 24

    Wonderful, my fairies are all grown up now… I miss.

  24. 25

    Stunning photos, Rosie! Neve is just the cutest little thing. Love what you did with those apples.

  25. 26

    Really amazing! Looks so pretty, almost too pretty to eat!

  26. 27

    Amazing! They are soooo cool!

  27. 28

    You. AMAaaaaaaaaaaze. Me.

    I LOVE these apples.

    Soooooooooo Girly & Fun! Xxx

  28. 29

    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!

  29. 30

    Dear Rosie,
    Your pictures are beautiful! And so are your daughters and your creations.

  30. 31

    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.

  31. 33

    How pretty are these!

  32. 34
    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 !! ^^

  33. 35

    These are so gorgeous. They look like beautiful planets.

  34. 36

    Is this real life?! I certainly hope so! Real life looks tasty and sparkly.

  35. 37

    The most perfect of perfect Fairy Apples! :D

  36. 38

    Who knew candy apples could be so pretty?! But anything that comes from the kitchen of Sweetapolita is pretty… it’s a given!

  37. 39

    so cute!

  38. 40
    Karissa Ferguson says:

    Just love these! I’ve never seen a more gorgeous candy apple. Can’t wait to make them!

  39. 41

    These are so pretty!

  40. 42

    these are THEE MOST amazing apples i have ever seen. period.

  41. 43

    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!! :)

  42. 44

    These are incredible Rosie, you have out done yourself again!

  43. 45

    These are gorgeous! I love the swirl effects! Lovely lovely lovely! :)))

  44. 47

    Oh friend… these hurt my teeth in a very good way! So sweet and so cute! Love your pics :)

  45. 49

    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.


  46. 51

    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.

  47. 52

    I have never seen a candy apple as pretty as these candy apples. I think these would be great take home gifts for the a baby or bridal shower!

  48. 53

    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!

  49. 55

    So beautiful !!!


  50. 56

    Wow! Easily the most original “caramel” apples I’ve seen. They look seasonless!

  51. 58

    I love your blog, I have just started my own blog please could you check it out thank you xxx. http://cakegaloreblog.blogspot.co.uk/

  52. 59

    What can I say? I’m constantly in awe of all the sweet creativity you come up with. Those candy apples are as adorable as your little ones!

  53. 61
    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.

  54. 62

    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!!

  55. 63

    Absolutely STUNNING! There are no other words to describe how beautiful those apples are!

  56. 65

    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!!

  57. 66

    I can’t handle the cuteness! And those apples… what can I say about these beauties? They’re so cool!

  58. 67

    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?

  59. 68

    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!!

  60. 69

    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!

  61. 70
    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 :)

  62. 71
    Joanna H. says:

    How would I increase the recipe size for this to make aprox. 20 apples?

  63. 72

    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)?

  64. 73

    where can i find the products you recommend

  65. 74

    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??

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