Spun Apples

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves

    4 to 6

    as a dessert.

Appears in

Chinese Technique

By Ken Hom

Published 1981

  • About

We are not offering a chapter on desserts because we find most Chinese desserts heavy or overly sweet and prefer to end our meals with fresh fruit, especially citrus fruits. But here is one Chinese dessert that we particularly like. It combines the sweetness of caramel and the tartness of apples, and if you lift the apples from the caramel just right, the caramel forms long, thin strands, which harden as you dip the apples into ice water—hence the name. The apples can be prepared ahead, including the first frying. Then, at the last minute, give the apples a quick frying to crisp the coating, then dip them into the caramel. Slightly unripe pears that are still firm make a pleasant variation. A Chinese version of this dish is made with whole, peeled, fresh water chestnuts.


  • 2 large, firm apples, cored and cut into eighths


  • ¼ cup water chestnut powder or plain flour
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 3 cups peanut oil for deep frying

Caramel Coating

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 1 tablespoon dark sesame seeds
  • 2 teaspoons white sesame seeds
  • Large bowl of ice water


  • Method: Deep-frying, caramelizing
  • First deep-frying (step 1) may be done in advance.

  1. First frying (can be done hours in advance): Dip the apple pieces into the batter, let the excess batter drip away, and deep-fry a few pieces at a time to crisp the batter. Set them aside.

  2. When you are ready to serve the apples, put the sugar and the oil for the caramel coating into a heavy saucepan. Prepare the large bowl of ice water. At the same time, heat the oil for deep-frying in a wok. After the deep-frying oil is hot, adjust the heat under it to keep it constant and put the sugar pan over a separate fire at moderately high heat.

  3. Within a couple of minutes, the sugar will dissolve and begin to caramelize. Add the sesame seeds to the caramel. Turn off the heat under it. When the caramel is ready, refry the apple pieces until they are crisp (about 1½ minutes). One by one, dip them into the caramel to coat them thoroughly.

  4. Then dip them immediately into the ice water to harden the caramel.

  5. Serve the caramelized apples immediately.