Apple Cider Caramels

Apple Cider CaramelsApple of My Eye
Whenever I come across a Halloween themed article, show, display…whatever, it shows at least one (usually 3) caramel apples artfully arranged on a plate. I’m not sure why, but it seems caramel apples go hand-in-hand with Halloween. I have never received one while trick-or-treating, though. That would have been awesome—but kinda sticky.

I love caramel apples, however, they can be a pain to make and to eat. The caramel falls off when you try to take a bite. The effort to get the perfect caramel-to-apple ratio in one bite generally results in an excess of slobber and requires strange mouth acrobatics. Not something one would want to eat on a first date (or any date really), as it is not the impression you want to leave with anyone, let alone a future life partner.

I may have found the solution to all three problems. Apple Cider Caramels has all the flavor of real caramel apples without the drool. All you have to do is pop one in your mouth and chew. Brilliant! They are relatively easy to prepare, make terrific gifts, and would be way less messy to hand out than the standard version. Just wrap them in wax paper. and twist the ends.

The secret ingredient is Boiled Cider, which is apple cider that has been reduced to a concentrated syrup. It’s a great addition to any recipe with apples,—or anything you want to taste like apples. I have been known to use it in a pork chop brine.

We just got a shipment in the store, and the bottles are on the shelf. So come in and try it out…

Apple Cider Caramels
Adapted from King Arthur’s Flours
Yields 64 caramels

2 cups (1 pint) heavy cream or whipping cream
1 cup light corn syrup
2 cups sugar
6 tablespoons butter, salted or unsalted
1/2 cup boiled cider
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Apple Pie Spice*

*Apple Pie Spice can be mixed at home by using 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ginger, and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg or allspice

Special equipment: candy thermometer

Lightly grease an 8″ x 8″ baking pan and line it with parchment paper, Let the paper overhang beyond the edges, on opposite sides to help ease the finished caramels from the pan.

Stir the cream, corn syrup, sugar, butter, and boiled cider in a heavy-bottom, deep saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, stirring to make certain the sugar is dissolved. Reduce the heat to medium-high, and cook until the mixture reaches 248°F on a candy thermometer, 20 to 30 minutes, depending on your particular stove. See note.

Remove the pan from the heat; stir in the salt and spice.

Pour the hot mixture into the prepared pan. At this point, for salted caramels, you can sprinkle high-quality sea salt or fleur de sel over the top. Don’t worry if the salt sinks in, it will be tasted.

Let the pan stand for 12 to 18 hours at room temperature to cool and set before cutting into approximately 1″ squares.

To wrap the caramels, use 6″ squares of parchment paper. Place one caramel in the center of each square; wrap the opposite edges of the paper around the caramel and twist the exposed edges to close.

Note: The caramel will be harder or softer depending on the temperature at which it is cooked. So, for softer caramels, bring the mixture to 242°F to 245°F. But then refrigerate the pan once it’s completely cool so that the caramels will be easier to handle. Remove them from the refrigerator about 15 minutes prior to cutting and wrapping. And, definitely wrap softer caramels in squares of waxed paper.

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