Apple Cider Caramels
I stumbled across this recipe from one of my favorite food blogs, Our Best Bites, this past spring. Unfortunately, the recipe just seemed to be so perfect for the fall and not so perfect for the spring. So I waited. I waited as long as I could, until the first week of October to make and post these sweet little candies. Let me tell you, they were worth the wait! I’ve never had such flavorful candy before. They kind of taste like a caramel apple pie. Doesn’t get much better than that.
Taste: Probably the most flavorful caramel candies I’ve ever tasted. They’re sweet, spicy, and full of apple flavor. Absolutely perfect for fall!
Texture: Smooth, sticky, and super chewy.
Ease: Not the easiest of desserts, but you shouldn’t be too intimidated either. Just make sure you follow the directions exactly and have a candy thermometer on hand (if you don’t, they’re pretty cheap and easy to buy). Don’t worry too much if the sugar/caramel seems to seize earlier on in the recipe, it should melt and become smooth as it’s heated.
Appearance: Who could resist one of these candies?
Pros: Perfect for fall parties and gift giving.
Cons: You may feel like you’re getting a cavity as you’re chewing on these babies.
Would I make this again? Yes. Like I said, these caramels would make great homemade gifts.
Apple Cider Caramels
For a fun twist, sprinkle the caramels with sea salt or an extra dose of cinnamon right after pouring the hot caramel into the pan.
Yield: about 75 caramels
2 cups apple cider
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1 stick unsalted butter, cubed
In a small saucepan set over medium heat, bring the cider to a simmer and heat until it is reduced to 1/3 cup, about 35 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Line an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Butter or spray parchment with nonstick cooking spray. In a glass measuring cup or small bowl combine the heavy cream, salt, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and reduced cider. Set aside.
In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan combine the sugar and corn syrup. Set over lower heat and cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolved. Simmer the sugar mixture until a candy thermometer registers 234°F.
Remove mixture from heat, remove thermometer, and slowly and carefully whisk in the cream mixture (mixture may foam and splatter, you may want to wear oven mitts). Add the cubed butter and stir until the butter is melted and incorporated. Return the pan the the heat and cook over lower heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture is thickened and sticky and the candy thermometer registers 250°F.
Remove the caramel from the heat and pour into the prepared pan (again, you may want to wear oven mitts). Let the mixture cool to room temperature or refrigerate until set. Once set, remove caramel from pan and cut into 3/4-inch squares. Wrap each piece in wax paper, twisting each end. Store caramels in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.