Did you know how many ways there are to make caramel? Or how many flavors can be infused into this sticky, sugary goodness?
I, for one, was sadly not in the loop. It was only in the past few weeks that I discovered how fantastic making caramel actually is, and I feel like I discovered an alternate universe–its been quite exhilarating!
As you may remember from my previous posts, I started making caramel as a way to send some kind of dessert to friends I made while studying abroad in Japan. But of course, who wants to make the same recipe more than once? So I had to keep looking for new recipes and flavor options. After the initial experiment with my Homemade Caramels, I moved on to Earl Grey Caramels, and then to these: Apple Cider Caramels.
Before making the actual caramel, the “apple cider” needs to be boiled down until it is thick and syrupy. Now I said “apple cider” because, well, lets be honest…its February. I ended up using an organic apple juice, and was extremely happy with the results, so if you can’t get actual apple cider I would recommend this brand.
Cinnamon and salt are mixed together in a dish. This will be important later, and you won’t have the time to measure it out, so it is best to do it in advance.
The reduced apple cider, butter, sugar and cream are brought to a boil. This part is the key to any caramel recipe: getting the caramel to reach 252, the soft ball stage.
Now the recipe says to stir in the cinnamon and salt at this point before pouring it into a pan.
I………well. Lets be honest. I completely forgot. And then remembered after the caramel was poured into the pan. >.< So I made the decision to sprinkle the mixture over the top and swirl it in with a toothpick. I liked how this added to the end flavor of the caramel, though I would add less salt.
As with any caramel, it needs to cool completely before being cut into bite sized pieces and wrapped in squares of wax paper. As with the other caramels, I sent them to various corners of the US and Asia, and reports from my friends said they were good even a few weeks after I made them! ^_^
Apple Cider Caramels
Inspired by the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
4 cups apple cider
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 stick butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup heavy cream
1) Bring the apple cider to a boil, cooking until it reduces to about 1/2 of a cup. This will take about 45 minutes.
2) Line a pan (either 8×8 or 13×9) with parchment paper and set aside.
3) Place the cinnamon and salt into a small bowl.
4) In the saucepan with the reduced apple cider, add in the butter, sugars and cream. Bring to a boil until it reaches 252 degrees or the soft ball stage.
5) At this point, you can stir in the cinnamon mixture into the caramel, or directly pour the caramel into the prepared pan followed by dusting the cinnamon mixture over the top.
6) Let the caramel cool at room temperature for several hours before cutting into pieces and wrapping in squares of wax paper.