November 6, 2013

Apple Cider Caramels

My last attempt at candy (homemade taffy) was a fail. My candy thermometer isn't necessarily as exact as a candy thermometer should be. Still, I saw recipes for apple cider caramels in one too many places to ignore, so I gave this version from Brown-Eyed Baker a shot.

Luckily, these turned out despite my candy thermometer. These are my first caramels, and I am impressed by how relatively easy they are to make. And they are indeed delicious.

I made a half batch in an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 bread pan, which gave me a quart jar of caramels. 

Apple Cider Caramels
4 cups apple cider
2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup unsalted butter, cubed
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup heavy cream

Boil the apple cider in a4-quart saucepan over high heat, stirring occasionally, until reduced to a dark, thick syrup, between 1/3-cup and 1/2-cup in volume. This will take at least 30 minutes, and remember cider boils over fairly easily.

Meanwhile, line the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking dish with parchment paper, leaving excess hanging over the sides. In a small bowl, stir together the salt and cinnamon.

Once the cider is reduced, remove it from the heat, and stir in the butter, sugars and heavy cream. Return the pot to medium-high heat with a candy thermometer attached to the side of the pan, and let it boil until the thermometer reads 252 degrees F, only about 5 minutes or so.

Immediately remove the caramel from heat, add the cinnamon-salt mixture and stir several times with a wooden spoon. Pour the caramel into the prepared pan. Let sit until cool and firm, about 2 hours.You can speed up the process by placing it in the refrigerator.

Once the caramel is firm, use the parchment overhangs to lift it out of the pan and transfer to a cutting board. Using a very sharp knife coated with non-stick cooking spray, cut the caramel into 1-inch squares. (You may need to re-spray the knife multiple times while cutting.)

Wrap each caramel in a 4-inch square of wax paper, twisting the sides to close. The caramels can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks. Makes 2 quarts of caramels.

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