Apple Cider Caramels combine your favorite fall drink with your favorite candy any other time of the year.
I’m obsessed with these Apple Cider Caramels. They are sooo good, like forget about the diet you wanted to be on before the holidays good. This past week, I have been a lovable grandmother, pushing wrapped candy on everyone I come across. Yes, I was initially met with concerned looks—I’m so glad you asked. However, I was happy to give up my perceived sanity for the sake of sharing these delightful caramels.
I used regular ole apple cider that I found at the store. Then I upped the fall flavor game by adding extra spice since my apple cider had none. The result is chewy caramels that taste like an apple orchard without all the work of apple picking.
Over a year ago, I shared my family’s recipe for soft caramels (If you clicked on that link, then you were transported back to a time when I added borders to everything and took pictures with my cell phone. My how far we’ve come.). While I love the flavor that recipe creates, the texture isn’t always consistent. This apple cider caramel recipe uses a two-step method, which results in more consistent but just as tasty results.
Pastry nerd alert! The two-step method simply means that you cook your caramel in two stages: first as a sugar syrup and then as a sugar syrup with fat added. In this recipe, you cook the sugar to about 275°F, add in melted butter and cream (which will lower the overall temperature), and then cook the mixture to 250°F.
The first cooking stage has the most effect on the color of your caramel and the second stage most affects the texture. Cooking the caramels in the 245-250°F range (firm-ball stage) gives it that wonderful, chewy texture that we all love.
You have my full seal of approval if you make these apple cider caramels and keep them all for yourself. However, I think they would also make a great (and inexpensive) host or hostess gift for Thanksgiving. Wrap the caramels in parchment paper, stick them in a mason jar, throw a ribbon on it, and you just got yourself out of clean up duty after Thanksgiving dinner. You are welcome.
- 6 Tbs. unsalted butter
- ½ cup heavy cream
- ½ apple cider
- ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
- ¼ tsp. salt
- 1 ½ cups sugar
- 2 Tbs. corn syrup
- 1/4 cup apple cider
- ½ tsp. vanilla extract
- Coat a loaf pan with non-stick spray. Trim parchment paper to the length of the pan so that it lines the bottom but hangs over the shorter edges. Spray lightly with the non-stick and do the same for the width of the pan. Set aside.
- In a small sauce pan, melt together butter, cream, ½ cup apple cider, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt over low heat.
- As that melts, combine sugar, corn syrup, and the remaining apple cider over medium heat in a 3 qt. sauce pan. Stir until the sugar melts. If any sugar makes its way up the side of the pan, dip a pastry brush in water and wipe down the sides.
- Attach a candy thermometer to the pan and allow to cook between 270-280°F. The caramel will start to boil, bubble, and smell incredible. Do not stir once the mixture starts to boil.
- Turn off heat and slowly pour in cream and butter mixture while stirring. Return to medium heat and cook to 250°F. Stirring occasionally and very gently.
- Remove caramel from heat. Quickly stir in vanilla, and pour into prepared pan.
- Allow to cool completely. Remove from pan and cut into bitesize pieces, and wrap them in wax paper if you’re feeling nostalgic.