Making caramels is typically one of those things that I reserve for the holidays – don’t get me wrong, it not that I don’t like to make them or enjoy eating them. It’s just that I hate wrapping them all up.
First there’s cutting them into nice neat squares then you have to individually wrap each and every one of them Can’t people just stop on by and cut off a chunk to enjoy? Hah, I can see that one working flawlessly…
I recently got wind of some apple cider caramels and I knew I had to try them – they sounded like heaven!
So I set out, recipe in hand and got working. Not soon after, trouble set in. I should have realized it from the get go, since the recipe (that shall not be named) was quite different than my usual caramel recipe…
But I waited and stirred with my trusty candy thermometer in my pot…and waited…and waited. It was taking forever to reach the right temperature and I began to second guess the accurateness of my thermometer so I put in a second one for good measure. But still nothing.
After a while the caramel just didn’t look right – I can’t describe it, but I knew it was beyond done so I took it off the heat and started to pour it into my pan. Then disaster struck:
The spatula from the scalding hot pot of caramel went flipping out of the pan and launched caramel right onto my arm. *%@$!. I’ll let you use your imagination as to the chaos that ensued after the incident. To keep the (gross) details to a minimum, I had a 4 inch area that got burned with one huge 2 inch blister and multiple “splatter” sized blisters. Ewww.
To make matters worse, those freaking caramels didn’t even turn out! Talk about being frustrated. Then I had to go to work the next few days and explain to coworkers what the heck happened to my arm. Which was followed by an entire vacation filled with photos of me with a huge bandage on my arm. Nothing like tons of photo’s to remind you of your kitchen failures. Geez.
I knew I couldn’t let the idea of apple cider caramels defeat me. It was just too great of a concept to let it go to waste, so I decided to adapt my old trusty caramel recipe to incorporate the cidery goodness.
These came out chewy, buttery and with the perfect amount of apple cider flavor. Seriously perfect – they taste kind of like a caramel apple or like apple pie (or maybe a combo of both?) but a bit more rich.
I think these would make an excellent take home treat for a Thanksgiving celebration They take some time to cook up and make a large quantity, perfect for sharing with loved ones!
- 4 cups apple cider
- 2 cups whipping cream
- ¼ cup milk
- 1 tablespoon apple pie spice
- 2 cups brown sugar
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1⅓ cup light corn syrup
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 12 tablespoons butter, cut into 1 tablespoon chunks
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- In a medium saucepan bring the cider to a simmer over medium heat until it is reduced to ¾ cup, about 30 minutes. Set aside to cool.
- Line a 13×9 inch baking pan with foil and spray liberally with cooking spray (or use Reynolds Non-stick foil).
- Mix cooled cider reduction, cream, milk and apple pie spice together and set aside.
- Add sugars, syrup, and salt to a heavy bottomed pot, stirring until mixture comes to a boil over medium-high heat. When boiling hard, add butter chunks slowly. Then, add milk and cream mixture to sugar mixture very slowly so that the pan mixture never stops boiling. Add in the vanilla.
- Cook, stirring almost continuously (mixture can burn easily), to firm ball stage (245F) on candy thermometer. It takes about 20-30 minutes of stirring. Make sure the bottom of the thermometer is in the mixture but not touching the bottom of the pan.
- Once at firm ball stage, pour into greased pan and cool for 5 minutes. Once the pan has cooled slightly, you can put the pan in the fridge to harden further.
- Once hardened, lift the whole piece of candy out onto a cutting board peel off the foil backing and cut into bite sized rectangles with greased knife, greasing between cuts as necessary. As the caramel comes to room temperature it softens and becomes harder to work with, so work quickly when cutting.
- Wrap the caramels in cut wax paper rectangles and twist ends to close.