Thin and crackly or soft and jellied, there's a glaze for every sweet occasion. For a candied-apple-style glaze, use a hard-candy version. For a thin glaze to finish fruit-topped cakes, use a simple syrup. Clear doesn't have to mean flavorless, so if you want to add a few drops of extract or liqueur, go ahead. You can also replace the water in a glaze with fruit juice, if you like, or add coloring. Complete the prep work before you start the glaze -- peel, chop and seed the fruit, and coat a sheet pan with cooking spray.
Simple syrup is the go-to glaze when you need to add a glossy sheen to fruit with almost no detectable change in texture. Simple syrup works with any fruit, soft or firm, large or small. Use it with fruit toppings, such as what you might use on cheesecake. Heat equal parts water and white granulated sugar over medium heat. Stir the syrup until the sugar dissolves and bring it to a boil. Set the heat to low as soon as the syrup starts to boil and cook it for 15 minutes. Take the glaze off the stove and let it cool. Place fruit in a mixing bowl and pour the glaze over it, stirring gently to coat. Spread glazed fruit to set for a few minutes on a wire rack or a sheet pan.
Candy glazes cool to a thin, crunchy coating. Candy glazes require exacting attention to safety -- hot sugar causes very severe burns. Keep two large bowls of ice water next to the stove: one to plunge your hand in if you come into contact with melted sugar and the other to sit the pot of candy in after it reaches the hard-crack stage. Moderately firm to firm fruits, such as strawberries, apples and dried fruits, work best with a hard-candy glaze. Skewer the fruit you want to glaze with a wooden skewer before you begin.
Add 2 parts sugar, 1 part water and 1/2 part corn syrup to a heavy-bottomed pot, and attach a candy thermometer to it. The ingredients should reach at least halfway up the sides of the pot to provide enough depth to dip the fruit. Heat the sugar mixture over medium heat, stirring it until it dissolves. When the glaze reaches the hard-crack stage -- between 300 and 320 F -- set it in the bowl of ice water. Dip the skewered fruit in the glaze as soon as it stops bubbling and place it on the oiled wire rack or sheet pan. Wait about 30 minutes for the candy to set.
A gelatin-based glaze has the exceptional shine of hard-candy glaze without the crunch and complements all fruits. Sprinkle a packet of unflavored gelatin over 1/4 cup of cold water in a bowl and let it stand for a minute to bloom. Add 1/4 cup of boiling water and stir until the gelatin dissolves. If you want a sweetened glaze, add 1 tablespoon of sugar. Dip the fruit in the glaze and set it on a sheet pan. Chill the fruit in the freezer until the glaze sets, about 15 minutes. If you want another layer of glaze, warm the gelatin in a double boiler and dip the fruit a second time.
Candying is the most comprehensive form of glazing. Best suited for small fruits, such as berries and fruits chopped into 1/2-inch pieces or smaller, candying creates a crystalline coating on the outside of the fruit and replaces the water inside the fruit with sugar. Bring 3 parts water and 1 part granulated sugar to a boil and add the fruit. Lower the heat to medium low and cook until the fruit turns translucent, about 40 minutes. Transfer the candied fruit to a wire rack with a slotted spoon and let it cool overnight. Store candied fruit in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one year.