The Honey Jack Salted Caramels that I made for gifts and holiday treats last year were very popular with family and friends. So popular, that I have vowed to make caramels every year while trying new recipes to see if I can find ‘the one’. I just can’t seem to stick with one recipe year in year out. This is a common thing in my kitchen, even this year’s shortbread is a new model!
Making caramels is a bit like giving birth. Shocking, I know, but very true. If you have done both you will know. Both are long processes, often culminating in severe pain that you forget the moment (or soon after) you hold ‘your precious’ in your arms. And so, I had completely forgotten last year’s pain associated with the Honey Jack Salted Caramels until I started making these Apple Cider Caramels. I began around noon and then realized I would be stuck stirring at the stove for another 45 minutes at least. During short little breaks I managed to make multiple short sprints to the fridge and grab various foods to make myself a snack that I could eat while stirring. I lucked out and found some lunch ham, cheese, crackers, hummous, and a mandarin to eat. I like to think that I am pretty awesome at juggling and multi-tasking but eating lunch while stirring molten hot caramel was perhaps just on the cusp of crazy.The recipe I used suggested pouring the hot caramel in to a prepared 9 x 13 inch pan but I didn’t have one of those so I prepared an 11 x 7 inch pan instead. I found that I worked just fine. I let the caramels sit overnight then sliced them and wrapped them in waxed paper.
Apple Cider Caramels (From Food & Wine Magazine)
- 2 quarts apple cider
- 3 cups heavy cream
- 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
- 4 cups sugar
- 3/4 cup light corn syrup
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 stick cold unsalted butter, diced
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- Pinch of ground allspice
- Pinch of ground cloves
- In a large saucepan, simmer the apple cider over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until reduced to 1 cup, about 1 hour. Pour the reduced cider into a bowl. NOTE: This step took me about 3 hours but the house smelled really awesome!
- Line a 9-by-13-inch rimmed pan (I used a 7 x 11 inch pan) with foil and coat the foil with nonstick cooking spray. In a medium saucepan, combine the heavy cream and condensed milk and bring to a simmer over moderate heat; keep the mixture warm over low heat.
- In another large saucepan, combine the sugar with the reduced apple cider, corn syrup, water and salt and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderate heat until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Carefully whisk in the butter until melted. Gradually whisk in the warm cream mixture until incorporated. Cook over moderately low heat, stirring frequently, until a golden caramel forms and the temperature reaches 245° on a candy thermometer, about 45 minutes. Stir in the cinnamon, allspice and cloves and scrape the caramel into the prepared pan. Let cool completely, then refrigerate the caramel overnight.
- Invert the caramel onto the parchment and peel off the foil. Using a sharp knife, cut the caramel as you like then wrap each caramel in a square of parchment paper or a candy wrapper. Twisting the ends to seal. Serve or pack the caramels into boxes.