I spotted a recipe for Apple Cider Caramels on and just had to try them. They were delicious and well worth the work!
The ingredients are quite simple:
- 2 cups high-quality apple cider
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream (divided)
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- Pinch of nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp. allspice
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1/3 cup light corn syrup
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
The recipe advises using a heavy pot (like a Dutch oven) but I don't own one. My regular nonstick cookware worked fine, though I made sure to stir a lot to prevent scorching. You will need a candy thermometer — no getting around that one.
- Boil cider on high for 20-30 minutes or until the cider is reduced to 1/3 cup. Set aside to cool.
- In a large saucepan or stock pot, combine the sugar, corn syrup, and 1/3 cup whipping cream plus enough water to reach the 1/2 cup line on the measuring cup. Cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Then simmer until the syrup reaches 234 degrees (my candy thermometer labels this as "thread" stage).
- While the sugar is cooking, combine the reduced cider with 2/3 cup cream, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice.
- When the syrup reaches 234 degrees, remove from heat and slowly mix in the cider mixture. Cube and add the butter. Stir until the cream and butter are fully blended.
- Cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until the temperature reaches 248 degrees ("firm ball" stage).
- Line an 8" square pan with parchment paper or foil. Coat with a bit of cooking spray or vegetable oil. Pour the caramel into the pan. Cool in the fridge or on the counter.
I was a little intimidated by making candy just because I thought something would go wrong, especially when I didn't use a Dutch oven. But this was really easy and has given me the confidence to try candy again. Cooking did require 90 minutes of pretty much constant attention, but not much skill.
Slicing and wrapping is time-consuming, too! One batch makes at least 60 or 70 medium-sized caramels. I chilled my pan in the fridge overnight so I had to let it soften up somewhat (but not too much) before slicing. I should have waited a little longer to make uniform slices easier. I recommend cutting up all of the papers beforehand so the caramels don't get too soft while wrapping.
I wrapped each piece in waxed paper (which required larger pieces of paper than you would expect). It wasn't bad once I got the hang of it.
Behold, a tasty pile of apple cider caramels! They were a hit with my family and I plan to make them again soon for the employee dessert contest at work.