Spiced Apple Cider Caramels
There are few things more pleasurable than biting into a chewy, creamy, melt-in-your-mouth homemade caramel. Using delicious apple cider and favorite fall spices, these caramels are sure to be a hit with your family. If you have never made caramels, you are in for a treat! The most important tool you need for making perfect caramel candies is a good candy thermometer with a metal clip so you can clip it to the side of the pot. Accuracy in the cooking temperature is important, so it is also a good idea to check the accuracy of the thermometer by placing it in a pot of boiling water. The temperature should read 212 degrees F (100 degrees C). Don’t worry if your thermometer is off by a couple of degrees, just remember to adjust the recipe temperature. Make sure when you are using the thermometer that the bottom of it does not touch the bottom of the pot. If the thermometer is touching the bottom it can cause an inaccurate temperature reading. Don’t be tempted to turn up the heat when cooking the caramels. You don’t want to cook the caramel too quickly. By cooking on low heat, you allow a rich full flavor to develop and it also prevents scorching.
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Spiced Apple Cider Caramels
- 2 cups apple cider
- 1 cup heavy cream, divided
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon allspice
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1/3 cup light corn syrup
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cubed
- Freshly ground cinnamon or course sea salt (optional)
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, simmer apple cider until it is reduced to 1/3 cup; approximately 15 to 20 minutes. Set aside to cool.
- Butter the bottom and sides of a 8 inch metal baking pan. Put a long piece of parchment paper in the bottom of the pan, letting the parchment extend up two sides of the pan and overhang slightly on both ends. (This will make it easy to remove the caramels from the pan after they have set.) Butter the parchment.
- In a small bowl, combine 2/3 cup heavy cream, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, salt and reduced apple cider. Set aside.
- In a large, heavy-bottom saucepan, combine sugar, 1/3 cup whipping cream and enough water to reach the 1/2 cup line on the measuring cup, and corn syrup. Cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Insert the candy thermometer and simmer, stirring frequently, until syrup boils, about 25 minutes. Continue cooking, without stirring, until syrup reaches 234°F.
- Remove from heat and very slowly whisk in cream mixture. Add cubed butter and stir until cream and butter are fully incorporated. Return pan to heat, re-insert thermometer and cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture boils. Continue cooking, without stirring, until the temperature reaches 250°F.
- Remove from heat and pour caramel into prepared pan; let mixture cool slightly, then sprinkle with freshly ground cinnamon or sea salt, if desired. Cool completely at room temperature or refrigerate until set. Once set, remove caramel from pan lifting out by parchment paper. Cut caramel into 3/4-inch squares. Wrap each piece in small wax paper square, twisting at each end. Store caramels in airtight container in cool place or refrigerate up to 2 weeks.
Yields: about 75 caramels