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.
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
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!