Saturday, November 17, 2012

Apple Cider Caramels

I made these at 6:30 in the morning.  It's amazing how reducing apple cider that early in your day can accomplish two things...
1. Make your kitchen smell AMAZING.
2. Hypnotize you back to sleep.

Seriously?  Don't look directly into the pot in the beginning stages of this recipe.  You'll be lulled into a false sense of security and then BAM!  You need to actually pay attention and work.
Apple Cider Caramels are completely worth it, though!  (Just use a bigger pot than I did.  It got a little too close for comfort and I needed an actual pot.  Should've planned ahead!)

2 C (high quality) apple cider
1 C heavy cream/whipping cream, divided
1 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice
1 1/2 C sugar
1/3 C light corn syrup
1/2 C real butter, cubed
1. Pour cider into a medium saucepan and boil on high for about 20 minutes, or until the cider reduces to 1/3 C.  Set aside to cool.
2. Line an 8" square pan with parchment paper, leaving at least 1" hanging over the edges for easy removal.  Coat with a little bit of vegetable oil and set aside.
3. In a small bowl, combine 2/3 C cream, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and reduced apple cider, then set aside.
4. In a large, heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, 1/3 C whipping cream + enough water to reacy the 1/2 C line on the measuring cup, and corn syrup.
5. Cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves.  Insert a candy thermometer and simmer until the syrup reraches 234 degrees.
6. Remove from heat and slowly whisk in the cream mixture.  Add the cubed butter and stir in until the cream and butter are fully incorporated.  Return the pan to heat and re-insert the candy thermometer.
7. Cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until the temperature reaches 248 degrees.
8. Remove from heat and pour the caramel intot he prepared pan.  Let the mixture cool completely at room temperature or in the refrigerator.
9. Cover loosely until ready to cut.
10. Cut into 1/2" squares and wrap in wax paper and store in an air tight container for up to 2 weeks in the fridge.

* My thermometer runs a little high, so my caramels were more firm than chewy, but you can gauge pretty quickly when they're about ready by the color they are turning.

* Even as such, everyone loved them, and I'll definitely be making these again!

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