Contest-worthy apple cider caramel candies

December 29 | Guest post by Colleen

If you've been reading for awhile, you've already seen Colleen's renovated Minneapolis house and her outdoor movie party. This post originally appeared on her blog, New Little Old House.

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.

  1. Boil cider on high for 20-30 minutes or until the cider is reduced to 1/3 cup. Set aside to cool.
  2. 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).
  3. While the sugar is cooking, combine the reduced cider with 2/3 cup cream, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice.
  4. 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.
  5. Cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until the temperature reaches 248 degrees ("firm ball" stage).
  6. 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.

  1. Those look so good!!! I bet they smell good while you cook it, too. My whole family would flip for these.

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  2. These sound amazing! Since we live near an apple orchard that makes the best apple cider, I'm always up for a new recipe that uses cider!

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  3. What would you substitute in instead of corn syrup? I'm in Oz and we don't have it, I don't like the taste and I prefer sugar as its "healthier" (lol)

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    • Hmmm good question! I am no expert, but I think that substitutions are a little delicate because candy textures can be finicky.

      My quick Googling seems to point towards simple syrup (sugar + water) as the surest alternative. People have also speculated about other kinds of sweet syrups. This is a good summary: http://www.ochef.com/256.htm

      I'd suggest planning enough time and ingredients for more than one batch if you're going to tweak anything, just in case. Let me know how it works out! :)

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      • Agreed. The flavour of the molasses would probably overpower the cider. Honey would be my second choice after golden syrup.

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  4. …I just learned that it's hard to make candy while wearing a tired ten-month-old on my back. Let's hope I didn't ruin the candy (or the baby)! :)

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  5. Sounds delicious. And I have a 4 litre jug of cider left over from Christmas…

    Technically speaking, you could get around a candy thermometer, you just have to know what thread stage looks like. It's when the sugar solution starts getting these wiggly dark lines or threads between the areas were the liquid is bubbling.

    Firm ball stage is when you take a small amount of the liquid, drop it into water, and it forms a firm ball.

    http://www.exploratorium.edu/cooking/candy/sugar-stages.html

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  6. Late commentary; just made this for Christmas presents! Yum, and surprisingly easy for a large return; definitely the easiest addition to the candy bags in comparison to the truffles :3

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  7. with nightwine on these – we (well, my husband the chef) made these last night and left them to be wrapped this morning . . . i found myself looking for the non-uniform pieces much like you might look for the broken cookies. aside from being tedious due to the constant attention you'd need to pay (i didn't pay any attention, god bless my husband) these are super easy and really delicious. i may have found a go to when i'm not sure what else to gift someone. so glad you shared these. :)

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