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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

apple cider caramels

If you haven't spent the holidays with Full Circle Foodie before, I'd like to extend a warm welcome. This is my fourth year in a row executing my "Baked with Love" project where I bake a variety of cookies and candies and then package them up all pretty to give, with love, to coworkers, friends and family. 

Each year, I incorporate tried and true traditions as well as new recipes that I am equally excited about. Grab some hot cocoa and enjoy your stay as my 2011 Box of Love unfolds before your eyes! 

Today's sweets are another new addition to the Baked with Love series. I came across this recipe this summer and had Mom test it out while I was home in Austin. These caramels got rave reviews from everyone that they were shared with so I knew they had to make another appearance during the holidays.

Apple Cider Caramels

Don't shy away from this recipe just because you haven't made caramels before. I made these before the peanut brittle this week, so not only were they my first adventure in making caramels on my own, but they were also my first go at candy making altogether. I'm pleased to report that the kitchen did not go up in smoke and they turned out heavenly if I do say so myself.

Apple Cider Caramels
What you'll need:
1. Apple Juice, 2. Candy Thermometer, 3. Foil Squares, 4. Apple Pie Spices
{not pictured}
Heavy Cream, Sugar, Corn Syrup, Butter

Apple Cider Caramels

adapted from Our Best Bites

2 cups high quality apple juice, like Simply Apple
1 cup heavy cream, divided
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon allspice
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cubed

  1. Boil apple juice in a medium saucepan until it reduces to 1/3 of a cup; approximately 20-30 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  2. Prepare an 8x8" baking dish by lining it with parchment paper and spraying with non-stick cooking spray. Make sure parchment paper covers the sides. 
  3. Mix reduced apple juice with cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and 2/3 cup heavy cream. Set aside.
  4. In a large, heavy bottomed saucepan, heat sugar, the remaining 1/3 cup heavy cream plus enough water to reach 1/2 cup, and corn syrup over low heat until dissolved. 
  5. Simmer mixture until it reaches 234 degrees Fahrenheit.
  6. Remove from heat and stir in apple cider mixture and butter until fully incorporated and smooth.
  7. Return to heat and cook on low heat until caramel mixture reaches 248 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  8. Poor caramel into prepared pan and allow to cool completely before cutting. 
  9. Remove caramel from pan and cut into desired size and wrap with 4x4" squares of candy foil or wax paper.  

Apple Cider Caramels

I love the uniqueness of the flavors in these caramels. Apple cider is no stranger to the Christmas holidays, but you don't expect it when biting into a decadent square of caramel. The taste of spiced apple cider is distinct, yet not overpowering. These are a fairly soft caramel that loved ones of all ages should be able to enjoy. For an added layer, sprinkle them with a fine flaked sea salt for that sweet and salty combination that everyone loves. Enjoy. And don't forget to share!

Apple Cider Caramels

Check out Baked with Love of years past...
BwL2008  BwL2009  BwL2010


MRM said...

Looks amazing. If I had a candy thermometer, I would make it for TLS's squadron this weekend.

Kimmie said...

Oh bummer! I actually got mine at the Commissary with my grandmother out here. I'm sure things are a bit more limited there though. =( Let me know if you need me to send you one!

Beth Michelle said...

These sound incredibile!! I love caramels but have never made any myself. I will have to try!

Lindsay Marcus said...

I think I just drooled...hehe...thank you for sharing!

Danika Fonseca said...

Dunno where to get corn syrup and im not sure as to what its called in Dutch.. Any clue as to what I can use instead ... or if I can just leave it out all together? :/

Kimmie said...

You could try 1/3 cup of honey or 1/3 cup sugar + 1 tablespoon of water. I haven't tried these, but they are common substitutes for corn syrup. Let me know if you try it - hope this helps!

Marasaxer said...

I tried this today and mine never set enough to cut, they stayed pretty gooey. I even put the whole tray in the freezer to see if I could cut it up then, but no change. It tastes good and will make for a great caramel sauce, just didn't work as candies. I don't know if my temperatures were off or what. Oh well.

Kimmie said...

I hate to hear that - at least you have a tasty caramel sauce! I do know that hitting high enough temps is key to candy making. Maybe give it another try? Enjoy a bowl of ice cream with caramel for me =) or maybe a caramel latte? Nom.

confused said...

4. 1/3 remaining 1/3 cup heavy creamso i only use 1/3 of the remaining? why do the ingredients call for 1 cup if you dont use it all?

Kimmie said...

"Mix reduced apple juice with cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and 2/3 cup heavy cream. Set aside." - That's where the first 2/3 goes. The original recipe was super confusing, I had hoped to clarify it a bit better when I rewrote it. Hope that helps!

clarified said...

yes, thank you. 

Marasaxer said...

I meant to write this update a few days ago but am just now getting to it - I scooped the caramel sauce I ended up with back into a pan and heated it up again, this time a bit hotter (I let it go to about 255 by my thermometer's read, though I'm starting to wonder about its accuracy), then poured it back on to the sheet pan. Worked just fine, I was able to cut it into squares.

It was still just a touch on the soft side, it sticks to the wrappers and comes out as goo at room temperature but not when they've been in the fridge or freezer a while, so that's where I'm storing this batch and the next will just get heated a little more I suppose.

So if anyone else has trouble with the caramels setting, it can be reheated to a higher temperature to fix that.

Kimmie said...

Thanks for sharing your trials and triumphs!

Emily Post-Punk said...

You can use golden syrup if that's available.

Jenn said...

Could you use apple cider instead of apple juice?

Kimmie said...

I'm sure that would work fine! The spices may be a bit stronger, but that's always a plus in my book!

Jill said...

I'm going to end up trying to reset mine- after 2 hours on the stove, the thermometer still hadn't passed 225, and after freezing the pan to set it only an hour thaw gave me sauce again. Here's hoping rebooking will work!

Jill said...

That should have been "re-cooking"

Kimmie said...

Oh no! The final temp is key, and although it takes a while, 2 hours makes me think some other factors may have been involved. They won't set up without the higher temp, but you might have some delicious ice cream topping on your hands. =) Good luck on round two!