02 December, 2012

Apple Cider Caramels

 Wow. These are seriously good. Totally in the autumn season.

 Small bites, wrapped in wax paper.

 See the squiggly one on the left - yeah- that's a 'sample'.

 Easy to make - but time consuming.

Forgot how I stumbled across this recipe but I found a really cool blog, The Smitten Kitchen, because of it.

These are melt in your mouth caramels that are so apple pie happy. Just a dash of salt and cinnamon.

I reduced the apple cider in the morning and after 1 1/2 hours, finished the cooking. Then the mixture had to cool for a few hours. Set aside a day or at least half a day to make these. Worth the time.

By The Smitten Kitchen.

Apple cider (sometimes called sweet or “soft” cider), as I’m referring to it here, is different from both apple juice and the hard, or alcoholic, fermented apple cider. It’s a fresh, unfiltered (it has sediment), raw apple juice — the juice literally pressed from fresh apples. It’s unpasteurized, and must be refrigerated, because it’s perishable. In the Northeast, I usually find it at farm stands and some grocery stores. I occasionally find vacuum- sealed bottles called apple cider in the juice aisle, but none of the bottled varieties that I’ve tried has the same delicate apple flavor as the more perishable stuff sold in the refrigerator section.

4 cups (945 ml) apple cider
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons flaky sea salt, such as Maldon, or less of a finer one
8 tablespoons (115 grams or 1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (110 grams) packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup (80 ml) heavy cream
Neutral oil for the knife

Boil the apple cider in a 3- to- 4- quart saucepan over high heat until it is reduced to a dark, thick syrup, between 1/3 and 1/2 cup in volume. This takes about 35 to 40 minutes on my stove. Stir occasionally.
{Kathy's note: Try 1 1/2 hours. I was afraid to put the burner on High. However, when it does go thick, it can burn (almost!) fast. So- watch it carefully towards the end.}

Meanwhile, get your other ingredients in order, because you won’t have time to spare once the candy is cooking. Line the bottom and sides of an 8- inch straight- sided square metal baking pan with 2 long sheets of crisscrossed parchment. Set it aside. Stir the cinnamon and flaky salt together in a small dish.
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 252 degrees, only about 5 minutes. 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 caramel from heat, add the cinnamon- salt mixture, and give the caramel several stirs to distribute it evenly. Pour caramel into the prepared pan. Let it sit until cool and firm—about 2 hours, though it goes faster in the fridge. Once caramel is firm, use your parchment paper sling to transfer the block to a cutting board. Use a well- oiled knife, oiling it after each cut (trust me!), to cut the caramel into 1-by-1-inch squares. {Kathy's note here: Unwrap a cube of butter and constantly edge the knife on it. If the knife gets too cruddy, wash in hot water and do the butter thing again.}

Wrap each one in a 4-inch 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.
Do ahead: Caramels keep, in an airtight container at room temperature, for two weeks, but really, good luck with that.

Allergy note: does contain butter and cream. But - oh-so-good.


  1. DARN! I am alergic to dairy so I miss out AGAIN!!
    - ChrisW Designs

  2. Yeah, but --there is no corn syrup in this recipe which beats cream in my book. I might try this with coconut milk to see what happens.

  3. I've been drooling over these since I saw them on Smitten Kitchen - I think it might be time for me to buy that candy thermometer I've been thinking about, as the cold water method hasn't worked well for me in the past. I'm glad to see another recommendation for them!

  4. I've since tried this with coconut milk (canned) and they work just fine.
    Butter doesn't seem to bother me like most dairy products so I have not tried a substitution here and don't see the point.

    Everyone raves about these caramels and they have become a family favorite with many requests from friends.


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