I don’t like committing to any one food, so I generally try to avoid saying that something is the ‘best’ food. That being said, if you like fall flavors and enjoy caramels, you have to drop what you are doing and go make these immediately.
I made these for a trip to the Maryland coast this weekend and they could not have been more perfect! The crisp fall air and citrus-colored tree leaves made for the ideal backdrop to enjoy the deep apple cider flavor in each bite. Too many descriptive words in one sentence? Maybe. But after weeks of strangely warm weather, it just felt right to enjoy fall flavors on a cool fall day and brag about it.
As with other candy recipes, this one requires a candy thermometer. If you don’t own one yet, I highly recommend investing in one. Amazon sells a variety of different models, all under $20, like this one, this one or lastly the thermometer I use.
Some tips for success to make the best caramel ever:
- When picking an apple cider base, go with the non-alcoholic version that is found in the refrigerator at your local grocery store. Skip anything that might be kept in the juice aisle.
- Once you start reducing the apple cider, prepare all of your other ingredients. While your caramel’s temperature might seem to be slowly creeping up, it will all of sudden start climbing very quickly so it is best to have everything ready.
- If your knife sticking to the caramel, rub a little oil on it, preferably something unflavored
- When cutting the caramels, go smaller rather than larger. These candies are super sweet so you will thank yourself for having trusted me and gone with the smaller size when you accidentally eat 10 of them in one sitting. I know this because I did not go with small caramels and I regretted it after my seventh caramel. They have apple in them so it counts as a fruit? Yeah, that might be a stretch.
Ingredients (Smitten Kitchen recipe)
- 4 Cups apple cider
- 1/2 Teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 Teaspoons flaky sea salt
- 8 Tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
- 1 Cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
- 1/2 Cup (110 grams) packed light brown sugar
- 1/3 Cup (80 ml) heavy cream
- In a medium saucepan, bring the apple cider to a boil over high heat until it reduces to a thick syrup (about 40 minutes)
- Line the bottom and sides of an 8 x 8 baking dish with parchment paper, set it aside
- In a small bowl, combine cinnamon and salt and set aside
- Once the apple cider is done reducing, remove it from heat and mix in the butter, sugars and heavy cream
- Clip on a candy thermometer and return to medium high heat until the thermometer reads 252 degrees (should happen in 5-10 minutes)
- Remove from heat and mix in cinnamon and salt
- Pour into prepared pan and let sit until firm (about 2 hours)
- Once caramel is firm and cool, transfer to cutting board using the parchment paper and cut to desired size
- Wrap cut caramels into strips of parchment paper and twist the ends closed.
- Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.