Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Apple Cider Caramels

I love making caramel almost as much as I love making jam. When I hover over my blue dutch oven filled with bubbling deliciousness I feel like a voodoo doctor simmering a magic potion in a cauldron, patiently giving it a stir or a nudge and carefully watching the magical transformation from grainy sugar to a beautiful golden syrup. Then carefully offering the cream as a sacrifice to the erupting volcano gods of sugar, accepting the tower of steam as a reminder of their power and feverishly stirring to ensure that the offering is accepted and the mixture turns smooth. Heating the glossy mixture until it's practically pillow-like, and then the eternal wait after the lot has been poured and stands cooling on the counter. But if all was done just right and the lords of caramel are kind, you will be rewarded for your vigilance with pretty bits of luscious candy to be shared with only those most worthy of your efforts.

Apple Cider Caramels


The lovely Kate at Our Best Bites posted this recipe for Apple Cider Caramels on her blog and I absolutely had to give them a try. Twice. I followed her instructions in all things except for the cutting. A long time ago, I saw caramels at a gourmet shop being sold in logs. Like a 9"x.5"x.5" square log wrapped up in parchment and a pretty sticker keeping the center from unwinding and two little ribbons on the ends. Kind of like a cut your own damn caramels system and since I hate the individual wrapping part, I went with the logs, which cut down the wrapping process dramatically. Plus, as Kate pointed out, "Cut your own damn caramels" makes for a fantastic slogan and works in all sorts of real world situations.

Apple Cider Caramels
Recipe from Our Best Bites

2 cup high-quality apple cider
1 cup heavy cream or whipping cream, divided
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup real butter, cubed

- Pour cider into a medium saucepan and boil on high for about 20 minutes or until the cider is reduced to 1/3 c. Keep an eye on it...it might try to run away. Set aside to cool.
- Line an 8" square pan with parchment paper, making sure to leave about 1" hanging over the edges for easy removal. Coat with a bit of vegetable oil and set aside.
- In a small bowl, combine 2/3 c. cream, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and reduced apple cider. Set aside.
- In a large, heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, 1/3 c. whipping cream + enough water to reach the 1/2 c. line on the measuring cup, and corn syrup. Cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Insert the candy thermometer and simmer until the syrup reaches 234 degrees.
- Remove from heat and slowly whisk in the cream mixture. Add the cubed butter and stir until the cream and butter are fully incorporated. Return the pan to heat and re-insert the candy thermometer. Cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until the temperature reaches 248 degrees.
- Remove from heat and pour the caramel into the prepared pan. Let the mixture cool completely at room temperature or in the refrigerator. I covered the top of the pan loosely with saran wrap and left it out overnight. You could cut the caramels into 1/2" squares and wrap each caramel in wax paper, but I'm lazy so I cut the caramel into 1/2" logs, which meant that I had exponentially fewer pieces to individually wrap. Store in an airtight container or in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, but I can guarantee that they won't last that long. These things are delicious!

96 comments:

Marie said...

Mmmm, those sound delicious! And what a perfect combination of apple + caramel.

polwig said...

I love the combination... Need to make them soon.

Angie said...

This is a great idea to place in a gift basket. They sound divine...This is definitely going in my holiday folder, and I received a candy thermometer for Christmas...YIPPIE!! I know what I'm making with it.

Joy said...

Please tell me you have left overs :D

Kat said...

mmm these look great. Apple and caramel sounds like a delicious combination

Dina said...

creative use of apple cider!

TheDelicious said...

love! just had some caramels made with beer ...alcoholic cider next for you? :D

Anna said...

TheDelicious: That's genius! I made Blue Moon beer ice cream before and I can just imagine topping that with a beer caramel sauce! Or dip pretzels in it. It will totally work in caramel! Next project, I promise.

Indie.Tea said...

O my, that is the most delicious sounding caramel.
Also, another really odd coincidence: I made those very same KAF walnut-shortbreads last night! I bought a madeleine pan and some wild English walnut yesterday and broke in the pan in with those. I added a little sea salt to mine though, and I used honey in the ganache filling too.

Y said...

Fabulous! I absolutely heart apple cider caramels. Bookmarking this for future reference!

TwilightTwins2 said...

Making these little suckers right now.

annalise + andrew said...

Oh My GOODNESS! I cannot wait to make these! (as soon as I get a candy thermometer!) :o)

Oh, and I love love LOVE "Cut Your Own Damn Caramels"! :o) Please tell me you are going to copyright that! ;o)

Christa @ BrownSugarToast said...

Mmmmm!!! saw this on pinterest! looks so yummy! thanks! :)

Bourbonnatrix said...

Just wanted to thank you for sharing this recipe (that I found via Pinterest). They turned out great! Not too hard, not too soft, and with great flavor! Thanks!

Mary said...

Found this on foodgawker- as soon as I get a candy thermometer I will give it a try!

oceanm said...

about how much does this recipe make?

Anna said...

@oceanm - It really depends on how you cut the caramels and the pan you use. If you use an 8x8 pan and cut into 1/2"x1" pieces, you can get over 100 really small caramels, but I got lazy and cut them into 1/2" logs, only cutting one or two into smaller pieces, so I ended up with quite a bit less.

The Mom Chef said...

In case you're curious; this is proof that Pinterest works. I saw the picture and title of this that someone repined (at least once or twice) and HAD to come find the recipe. It looks so, so freakin' good. I'm liking the "cut your own damn caramel" very much. Although I'll probably just eat the whole log myself. I love caramel. (To answer oceanm; it makes one serving. Mine.)

Shay said...

I got here from pinterest too! Made these today with my daughter and they're cooling on my stove. I've already sneaked and cooled some to try...wow. Sweet and the cider sneaks up on you. REALLY good. And my house now smells amazing.

Audra @ The Kurtz Corner said...

I have to try these!! Where can I get Apple Cider at this time of year?...I live in Texas haha

Damienne said...

Another Pinterester here! I saw Apple cider and caramel in the title and had to come and check out the recipe. I cannot wait to make and taste these.

Mal said...

Just wanted to know if the corn syrup can be subbed for honey directly, or do I need to adjust?

Anna said...

I've never tried this recipe with honey, but I'd imagine that it would not be a one to one substitution. Not sure how it would work, but let me know how it comes out if you give it a try.

cassandra said...

just a quick question, i made this recipe, found it on pinterest and have one quick question:

when you say, "I covered the top with saran wrap", do you mean, you covered the top of the pan or the caramel itself? i put it on the caramel itself and now i'm hoping i didn't ruin it! i know how sticky caramel can be to wrappers and such.

thanks!

Erin @ EKat's Kitchen said...

A pinterest fan here -- fantastic recipe! I love this.

Anna said...

Cassandra, as long as you greased up the parchment with oil and let your caramel cool a bit before you covered it, you should be just fine, but you're right, I should have specified. I just draped the saran on top to prevent anything from falling in. I'll adjust the instructions.

Dana & Kylan said...

I made it... but it didn't harden as much as yours. Did I not get it hot enough? Is there anyway to save it?

Anna said...

I'm sorry to hear that. Yeah, if you don't get it all the way up to the temp mentioned it might not set quite as firm. If its just a little softer, I'd say don't worry about it. Wrap them up and it'll be good. If you still have everything in the pot and it's still very runny, I'd say crank up the heat again and see if you can hit 248F....or add more cream and make it into caramel sauce. There's no losing when you have a pot of deliciousness :D

Em said...

Found this via Pinterest. They turned out absolutely delicious & were a huge hit at work! I've already sent the link to several people who requested it! Having not made caramels before, I didn't realize the last step of cooking to 248 takes ~30-45 minutes, so I'm glad I started them early enough.

I followed a commenter's suggestion on Kate's post and just tossed the pieces into mini muffin cups instead of wrapping since they were for a work buffet.

Megan said...

I made these today and they are absolutely delicious, I'm sure the taste varies on the Apple Cider too! Thank you SO much for the recipe!

pookiepantry said...

One word. Amazing. Love these so much! Followed the instructions spot on, and they turned out perfectly.

Sam said...

I'm not sure but I think Sorghum would be a good substitute for the corn syrup. It would change the taste but sorghum reminds me of fall and would go perfectly (at least in my mind)

Anonymous said...

will be making these. They ssound amazing!!!!!

Blonde said...

Hey, sounds great!

Only, what do you mean with 'divided' after cream?

Corn syrup is not really used in the UK what could I use instead?

Thanks!!! x

Anna said...

Blonde, divided means that the 1 cup will be split into 1/3c and 2/3c and used at different points of the recipe. I just note that so that you make sure you have what you need before you start, but don't go measuring out a cup if you won't be pouring everything in at once. As for your question on corn syrup, I'm not sure as I haven't tried it, but I think golden syrup might be a good alternative.

Mommy of 3 Princesses said...

for the 1/2c of water...is that an actual 1/2 c of water or start with the 1/3c cream and add water to it to make a 1/2 c combined...I know silly question...but since it doesn't say anything the the ingred list I thought I would double check

Thanks

Anna said...

You put the 1/3 of cream into the 1/2 cup measuring cup and top with water to fill it up. Not a silly question at all :D

Anonymous said...

hey,
i have a few questions.
i looked up how i could substituted the corn syrup and it said that it's basically sugar with some water, which i should boil up. do you think that works? i'm from germany and i can't find corn syrup anywhere.
and the other thing is, do i need the allspice?
Thank you in advance!

Anna said...

I read somewhere that you can make your own corn syrup by using sugar/water and a bit of cream of tartar that you just cook down to soft ball stage, but I haven't tried it myself. It does sound like it would work in theory, so I'd say go for it. As for the allspice, you can most definitely leave it out or replace it with something else that sounds good to you...like maybe a pinch of cardamom or something? Good luck!

cupcakegiraffe said...

If you don't mind me asking, how would the method for making these amazing caramels differ if you doubled the recipe? I'd love to try this recipe to give out to people, but I have a feeling it won't make it out of the house unless there were too many to eat. LOVE the idea for the recipe, by the way, I can't wait to try it!!

Anna said...

While you could double the recipe, which would just mean you'll need to boil everything longer to get to the right temp, I'd recommend just making two batches. Candy can be temperamental sometimes and it would just be safer then having the whole thing boil over. Trust me when I say you need plenty of room in the pot for the step where you add the cream.

cupcakegiraffe said...

Thanks for the advice! I'll do two batches. :]
One for me, one for them, ha ha!

fahnestockjenny said...

Just made some tonight, they are yummy, next time I am going to add more spices, mine set quickly within a couple hours on the counter. Great recipe. Pretty easy as well just never leave your pot. I had everything pre prepped as much as I could. Thanks for this easy recipe.

Lauren said...

Just made these, cooling in the pan. Cant wait to try them. :) YAY. Go pinterest

Jenn Buell said...

Just made these--my first attempt at candy making ever--and wow! It was easy to follow the instructions and they taste yummy on the spoon. Can't wait for them to cool. Thanks for sharing. They'll make great gifts.

Anonymous said...

I just finished making these about 3 hours ago and only the very top is starting to harden. How long does it take for the whole thing to become hard enough to cut and wrap if you're leaving it out of the fridge?

Anna said...

I usually leave mine overnight since it has to cool completely before it sets.

Anonymous said...

I ended up having to put mine in the fridge. The caramel turned solid but they were very soft. I was able to cut the caramel but the pieces spread out by the time I was dome cutting the block :-( don't know where I went wrong. I cooked it to the right temp I'm pretty sure.

Melanna said...

I made these this afternoon and they nicely cooled on the counter before I cut them up. They turned out perfect and are WAY too good. Reducing the apple cider only took about 15 minutes (and actually it went a little too far, I ended up with about 1/4 cup so I added a bit more unreduced cider to bring it to 1/3). I think the speed may have been affected by the altitude. And I think that might also be the reason some people are having problems with it being too soft. The thermometer might say the right temp, but due to altitude it's not the correct temp. Calibrate your thermometer before you start. Boil some water (which should happen at 212F or 100C). Whatever it is off by, add or subtract the same number of degrees in the recipe. Mine boiled at 206F so I subtracted 6 and everything turned perfect.
Thanks for the great recipe and fantastic picture that made it look so appetizing!

Jacob, Shawn, Joseph, and Shae said...

Are these chewy or hard caramels? The reason I ask is I left mine on the stove literally 10 seconds too long and they are HARD caramels - like Werther's hard caramels. As I poured the mixture into the pan, I noticed the temp was 250 - just 2 degrees higher than instructed. I guess I will calibrate my thermometer and try again. But before I do it again, I want to know if the recipe is intended to make hard caramels. If so, I will just take it off the heat sooner. The flavor is fabulous, but I am not sure how to cut an 8x8 square of hard caramel.

Anna said...

They are supposed to be soft, and yes, sadly it sounds like you cooked it just a bit too long, which in candymaking makes a huge difference. Might I suggest a pick and a hammer? You can make candy shards, which I'm sure will still be delicious.

Jacob, Shawn, Joseph, and Shae said...

I was able to cut about 1/3 of it before it got too hard. I bought enough cider and cream to make two batches, so I will check the accuracy of my thermometer before I try again. I'll also wait for the kids to be asleep (I was distracted by one of them at the end of the 35 minutes of simmering). I swear the temp jumped from 230 to 250 in no time!

cupcakegiraffe said...

I made these and brought them to share at work and my co-workers adored them! My boyfriend asked if I could make them firmer, so I heated them to 255 degrees and they were perfect! It took a while to cut and wrap them because I chose to cut them into little cubes, but I ended up liking the firmer ones because they had a melt-in-your-mouth smoothness after a few moments in your mouth. Thanks again for the recipe, it was a success!

Maggie said...

Thank you so much for this recipe! I will definitely be making these every fall. I featured this recipe on my blog, Naloma Kitchen and linked back to you. :)

Anonymous said...

Amazing treat. I ended up with 125 individually wrapped candies and they are the same consistency as the good old store bought caramels. So so good. The whole process took me about 3 hours not including the time it took to set in the fridge. I hope my family will be impressed...these don't taste like they'll last long because they're SOO good. Perfection if you have the patience....

mybakingempire said...

Found these through a friend on Pinterest. Can't. Wait.

ANice.5 said...

I found you through pinterest and can't wait to try this recipe. I plan on putting them in the candy buffet for my October wedding... if enough make it out of the house.

Anonymous said...

Found this on Pinterest, and had to try it! Wow...the apple and then the zing of the vinegar hits your taste buds like a fall rush! Cooling on the table now...pray it sets up. If not, off to the store for icecream :)

Allison said...

Ok this is my first time doing candy. Is there a trick to cutting them? I let them cool for 2 hours, one of which was outside in the snow. They are hard as a rock and a pain in the butt to cut. Are they supposed to be hard or chewy when all finished? Also it seems like I lost most of the cider flavor :( and that they are now just cinnamon caramels. Don't get me wrong they are still delicious!

Anna said...

Allison, they should be chewy, but if you've overcooked the caramel by even a few degrees your outcome will be firmer. Let them come to room temperature and try to cut them, hopefully your batch is just too cold.

LaurenJSmith2217 said...

Just wanted to share this. Mine came out way too soft and runny. I was a little nervous about overcooking them based on some of the comments. I followed the advice, and scraped the goo back into the pot, and cooked it again. Worked like a charm! Perfect semi-soft, chewy texture. Thanks for the tip!

Anonymous said...

I make my own carmels every Christmas and was looking forward to trying some new stuff with them this year (like sea salt and chocolate) now I need to add this and make 3 batches- original, sea salt, and now apple pie!

La Chica Libre said...

I had trouble separating the finished carmel square from the wax paper. It was like the paper had dissolved on the bottom. I did use non stick cooking spray as well.

Anonymous said...

Mine turned out rock hard like apple cider Werthers. I used a thermometer and followed the recipe exactly :-(

Anonymous said...

'Nother stupid question here. How do you know when the cider is reduced enough? Do you keep pouting it out to measure?

I can't wait to make this - I've been wanting a new caramel recipe to try!

Anna said...

Not stupid at all. I just eyeball it until it's close and keep a measuring cup nearby. If you reduce it too much, just top off with a touch more cider and you'll be fine.

Anonymous said...

Excellent, thanks so much for responding!!!

Anonymous said...

These are setting right now on my counter... Can't wait to try them! :)

Mindy said...

What did you use to cut the caramels? I am planning on making these soon :)

Anna said...

Mindy, I just used the longest knife in my drawer and it worked like a charm.

Dianne Guidice said...

Wow!! Looks amazing! One question, did you use actual whipped cream or the Heavy whipping cream in your recipe.. I looked through and didn't see this listed.. I also think I'm going to add some sea salts...MMmmm....:)) Great post on Pinterest!

Anna said...

Diane, it's heavy whipping cream, sometimes the packages say heavy cream, and sometimes whipping cream, but you definitely want the liquid stuff, not the already whipped kind. Good luck!

Jessica Morros said...

can't wait to try this recipe, thank you

Amanda said...

I loved this recipe and included it in an apple cider round up on my blog. Thanks for making and sharing this, it sounds fabulous! If you'd like to see the round up it's here http://amandascookin.com/2012/10/30-apple-cider-recipes-for-fall.html

Sheila said...

Made these for our early Thanksgiving dinner this weekend. They were easy and very yummy. The only thing my guests kept saying beside how good they were was how they could taste the butter. After sitting for two days they are very buttery. Can I reduce the butter for more of the natural cider flavor? Also- I have to keep mine in the freezer otherwise they turn very soft very quickly. Did I do something wrong?

Anna said...

Sheila, you can probably try to reduce the butter a little bit, but I think that would really alter the texture. As for the consistency, cooking the mixture just one more degree would have yielded slightly firmer caramels, but be careful or you'll end up with hard caramel.

Chelsea said...

Thanks for the recipe. The flavor is outstanding. Unfortunately, mine too turned out hard as a rock. We've just been eating them like hard candies, but I was so sad they didn't turned out as planned because it is quite the time commitment. It was my first time candy making though, so I'm going to try it again next time we get snowed in!

Nikki @ Tikkido said...

Just used this recipe again for my Fall Harvest Rehearsal Dinner photo shoot. Sooo delicious! http://tikkido.com/node/748

Amy said...

i made these & they are so so soooo good. thanks for the recipe!

Anonymous said...

Are these going to be ok in the freezer. I am making them for christmas, so they need to keep for 3-4 weeks.

Kristie said...

I made these last night and the temp went from 240F to 255F very quickly before I could remove them. Now they are solid after being in the fridge overnight. I heated the oven to 50C and left the pan in there to soften them and now I can actually cut them! Hopefully they will firm up again once they are cut into small squares and are back in the fridge.

Anonymous said...

Probably a very obvious question, but I am slightly confused on your definition of "apple cider"? Is this freshly squeezed apples, or sparkling apple juice, or...?

Anna said...

I don't really know for sure, they've never lasted longer then a few days around here, but they should be just fine in the freezer for a few weeks, I think.

I know someone tried this with sparkling cider and it came out, but I use freshly squeezed apple cider.

Good Luck!

Anonymous said...

Hi - I attempted these the other night and it came out as a soup, I thought I heated it up enough, but do you know if I can put the mixture back on the stove after cooling all the way down and re-heat it and have it still turn out?

Anna said...

Make sure that your thermometer is accurate, and yes, you can put this back on the stove and it should still turn out. Just make sure you cook it till the proper temperature.

Anonymous said...

Could I use powdered apple cider mix and just add it to 2 cups of water? Thanks.

merlen hogg said...

Hi Anna,
Thanks for sharing such a great information.Am looking forward for your net post.


vanntetting

Anonymous said...

I've made these alot in Australia where we don;t have corn syrup and the best substitute i've found is glucose syrup! works really well.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this recipe! I found it on Pinterest, and with the appearance of apple cider in the stores, I made a batch of this last night. I may have to make a second batch for my friends, since I keep eating this batch. It's deliciously addictive!

AMOC said...

I stored mine in the fridge overnight, and when I started to bring them back to room temperature, they turned slimy/gooey. Not sure if I didn't cook them long enough, or if that'll go away once they're all the way back to room temp, but they were absolutely perfect last night when I started eating them, and now they're odd.. Any suggestions?

Anonymous said...

I have been making fleur-de-sel caramels for some time when I came across your recipe. I made my own cider syrup and the caramels yesterday. Holy cow were they amazing! My next batch will be spiked with butterscotch schnapps!!

Anonymous said...

How do I prepare a pan to pour candy into

Anonymous said...

Last time I made these all I had to line the pan with was wax paper, which stuck horribly to my caramels and I had a tough time trying to save them. Is there really that much diffdifference between wax and parchment paper? Have you tried anything else that works?

Anonymous said...

There is a big difference between wax paper and parchment. i would recommend using foil instead of wax. Just butter your pan and then the foil too.

Anonymous said...

Made these and added some sea salt and they are amazing everyone ate them up.

Jennifer said...

Thank you so much for the recipe and beautiful pictures! We tried this recipe today, and it was so delicious. I was thinking that it might be lovely to cut up some candied ginger in it as well. :)