Recipe: Spiced Apple Cider Soft Caramels
This recipe makes so many caramels that if you don’t have a way of gifting them, cut it in half! In making this recipe, I tried to cut some of the sugar and cream in traditional caramels, and still end up with a buttery, creamy texture. I arrived at this recipe by accident – I added more apple cider than I originally intended and had less cream on hand. I love when accidents turn out to be delicious. Also, I used locally available apple cider from my winter farmers market – it provided a rich, undiluted apple flavor.
Very importantly: I did not find a good way to wrap these – I tried a variety of methods (i.e. wrap in parchment and twist the sides, wrap in plastic wrap and tie with twine, among others). My advice: purchase candy wrappers online. Seriously. It’s the most attractive presentation and if you end up leaving it in one large container in your fridge, you will eat massive amounts and end up with a stomach ache (for the record, I generally have much better self-control).
Spiced Apple Cider Soft Caramels
Makes about 150 individual caramels
- 10 cups apple cider
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
- 3 cups sugar
- ¾ cup light corn syrup
- ¼ cup water
- 1 ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 stick cold, unsalted butter, cut into pats
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teapsoon allspice
- ½ teaspoon cloves
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- Vegetable oil for brushing
- In a large pot over medium heat, simmer the apple cider stirring occasionally, until reduced to about 1 cup (about 1 hour).
- In the meantime, in a medium pot, bring the condensed milk and heavy cream to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and keep the mixture warm. Also, line a roasting pan with aluminum foil and brush with oil. Don’t skimp on the oil because, if you do, the caramel will stick.
- Once the apple cider reduces, add the sugar, corn syrup, water, salt, and spices. Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer over moderate heat until the sugar dissolves. Add the butter, a few diced pats at a time, stirring constantly, until it is all added and combined. Reduce the heat to low.
- Slowly add the milk/cream mixture to the apple mixture, stirring constantly, until incorporated. Cook the mixture until it reaches 245° on a thermometer (ideally a candy thermometer but I didn’t use one) about 45 minutes.
- Stir the caramel into the foil-covered pan, let it cool and then refrigerate it overnight (or up to 2 weeks).
- I used spoonfuls of the mixture and shaped it into balls with my hands; however, once the caramel reaches room temperature, it softens, so don’t spend too much time shaping it! Use a teaspoon to create small, 1 bite servings and wrap each individually.