December 9, 2013

Apple Cider Caramels

The old keys are turned in, the lease is paid out, the truck is returned and all the boxes are inside... WE'RE HOME!! Now it is time for the unpacking, organizing, rearranging and plan-making! Also a few squirrely internet issues to work out, so I'm going to take a week off to settle in. Sorry this post is a day late!! You'll love it anyway. I'll be back in a week with stories and pictures!


Apple Cider Caramels (adapted slightly from Smitten Kitchen)
Printable Recipe

4 cups apple cider (make sure to taste it first, gross cider makes gross caramels!)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt (or 1 tsp kosher salt, for little crunchy salty bits, I LOVE this!!)
8 Tb (one stick) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup heavy cream

Boil the apple cider in a large saucepan over high heat until it is reduced to a dark, thick syrup, between 1/3 and 1/2 cup in volume. This can take from 40-60 minutes, or more. Stir occasionally. It will look like nothing is happening, then suddenly become thick, dark, and sticky.
While the cider is reducing, get your other ingredients ready, you'll need them quickly! Line the bottom and sides of an 8- inch baking pan with 2 long sheets of crisscrossed parchment, making a sling. Set it aside. Stir the spices and salt together in a small dish. Measure out the sugar and cream and cut up the butter. Keep these refrigerated.

Once you are finished reducing the apple cider, remove it from the heat and stir in the butter, sugars, and heavy cream. Return the pot to medium-high heat with a candy thermometer attached to the side, and let it boil until the thermometer reads 250 degrees (240 degrees at 6000 ft above sea level) Keep a close eye on it.

(Don’t have a candy or deep- fry thermometer? Have a bowl of very cold water ready, and cook the caramel until a tiny spoonful dropped into the water becomes firm, chewy, and able to be plied into a ball.)

Immediately remove from heat, add the cinnamon- salt mixture, and give the caramel several stirs to distribute it evenly. Pour caramel into the prepared pan. Let sit until it sets, a few hours. You can speed this up in the fridge. Once caramel is firm, use the parchment paper sling to remove the caramel and transfer it to a cutting board. Use a well- oiled knife, oiling it after each cut, to cut the caramel into squares. Wrap each one in a square of waxed paper, twisting the sides to close. Caramels will be somewhat on the soft side at room temperature, and chewy/firm from the fridge.
Don't second-guess this recipe! My other caramel recipe is supposed to be boiled until "hard ball" temperature, so I assumed this one should be too. Nope. It will be hard! I still liked it, I like my caramel very chewy, but you probably want yours a bit softer.
These things are crazy!! Truly a mix of apple cider and caramel! The tangy cider flavor hits you right away, followed by rich, creamy caramel. At first I thought it was a tad too strong... but they're seriously addicting. I ate WAY too many of these. I'm even considering making a second batch! Oh man are they delicious.
If you have any plans to make treats for your friends and neighbors this holiday season, I urge you to consider adding these to your menu. Really. They're incredible.

4 comments :

  1. Those look wonderful April! Amazing. I am so glad you are in your house now. Hoping all settles in well for you and you are back to blogging and sharing with us again. Hope my little suprise arrived safe and sound. Love you girl! xxoo

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  2. Yay!! I thought you'd like these :)
    I went the other way on my caramels and they were just a tad too soft, but sitting in the fridge made them the correct consistency. You are correct in that when you first try them they seem strong, but they are strangely addicting.

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  3. I sooooo love caramel. Mix apples and caramel and I am in Heaven. Not really, but I think I am. I will have to save this recipe for later.

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    Replies
    1. You've got to try these, you'll LOVE them!!

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