These apple cider caramels are spectacularly impressive and surprisingly easy to make. They’re simply apple cider or juice that’s boiled down with sugar and spiked with cinnamon, star anise, and cloves. So simple. So stunning.

5 unwrapped squares of apple cider caramels beside a pile of wrapped caramels.

These apple cider caramels are ridiculously rich, superlatively smooth, and wildly easy to make. They’re essentially just apple cider or juice that’s boiled down with sugar and subtly spiked with cinnamon, star anise, and cloves. The only thing easier than tossing these together is saying “you’re welcome” when friends and family effusively thank you for gifting them these caramels.Angie Zoobkoff

What else can I use reduced apple juice for?

The astoundingly flavorful trick of boiled cider or apple juice that’s reduced down to concentrate the flavors results in equally spectacular syrup for drizzling over pancakes or waffles when you stop reducing the syrup after it reaches 6 to 7 ounces.

Apple Cider Caramels

5 unwrapped squares of apple cider caramels beside a pile of wrapped caramels.

These apple cider caramels are spectacularly impressive and surprisingly easy to make. They’re simply apple cider or juice that’s boiled down with sugar and spiked with cinnamon, star anise, and cloves. So simple. So stunning.

Annie Rigg

Prep 25 mins

Cook 1 hr 35 mins

Cool 2 hrs

Total 4 hrs

  • Butter an 8- or 9-inch (20- to 23-cm) square baking pan, line it with parchment paper, and then lightly butter the parchment paper.
  • Pour the apple juice into a large saucepan, add the cinnamon stick, star anise, and cloves, and bring to a boil. Cook steadily over low to medium heat until the juice has reduced to 4 1/2 ounces (128 grams) of honey-colored syrup. Be certain to measure the syrup by weight rather than volume to ensure accuracy. Remove the spices with a slotted spoon before weighing the syrup to get an accurate measure. The reducing of the syrup could take an hour or more depending on the size of your pan and the exact heat. It can be difficult to guess when it’s at the right weight, so occasionally strain the syrup into a measuring cup on the scale and, if needed, return the syrup and strained spices to the pot and continue to reduce. Keep a careful watch on the syrup towards the end of the reducing.

  • Pour the syrup into a clean 2-quart (1.9 liter) saucepan and add the butter, both sugars, and the crème fraîche. Place the pan over low heat and stir frequently until the butter melts and the sugar dissolves. Add the thermometer to the pan, bring to a boil, and cook at a steady, even pace, stirring from time to time, until the syrup reaches 260ºF (127°C), 20 to 30 minutes. (The syrup may hover around 220°F for a while but it will eventually shoot up to 260°F.) Do not be tempted to increase the heat under the pan to hasten the process or you’ll scorch the syrup and your caramels will have a lingering burnt taste.
  • Slide the pan off the heat, remove the thermometer, add the sea salt, and stir to combine with a rubber spatula. Immediately pour the syrup into the prepared pan and let it cool to room temperature, about 2 hours.

  • Using a lightly buttered sharp knife, cut the caramel into bite-size squares. If desired, add a tiny pinch of sea salt to each caramel. Place each caramel on a square or rectangle of waxed paper or parchment paper and twist the ends. Place in a resealable plastic bag and stash in the fridge for up to 1 week. Originally published November 26, 2016.

HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN APPLE JUICE

It’s not necessary to make your own apple juice for these caramels, although if you have a juicer and want to give it a twirl, you can simply press apples through your juicer and then filter the liquid through coffee filter papers. It’s that simple.

Serving: 1caramelCalories: 64kcal (3%)Carbohydrates: 11g (4%)Protein: 1g (2%)Fat: 2g (3%)Saturated Fat: 1g (6%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 6mg (2%)Sodium: 37mg (2%)Potassium: 39mg (1%)Fiber: 1g (4%)Sugar: 11g (12%)Vitamin A: 69IU (1%)Vitamin C: 1mg (1%)Calcium: 11mg (1%)Iron: 1mg (6%)

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

Originally published November 26, 2016

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