In these Apple Cider Caramels, the sweet, slightly burnt caramelized sugar taste pairs perfectly with the tart apple cider, spicy cinnamon, and rich butter. These caramels are soft, silky-smooth, and won’t stick in your teeth.
This recipe is time-intensive, due to the apple cider reduction step. To save time, you can use 1/3 cup defrosted apple juice concentrate, instead of reducing the apple cider, and suffer only a small reduction in flavor.
1. Prepare an 8x8 pan by lining it with aluminum foil and spraying the foil with nonstick cooking spray.
2. Place the apple cider in a small saucepan over medium heat and boil it until it is reduced to 1/3 cup. This should take approximately 35-45 minutes.
3. While the apple cider is reducing, place the butter and cream in another saucepan and heat to boiling. As soon as it boils, remove it from the heat and add the cinnamon sticks. Cover and set aside for now.
4. Once the cider is reduced to 1/3 cup, remove it from the heat. Whisk it into the cream mixture.
5. In a medium-large saucepan, combine the sugar, salt, corn syrup, and water over medium heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves and insert a candy thermometer.
6. Cook the candy until it is a medium brown color and registers about 330-340 degrees on the thermometer. Watch it carefully toward the end, as sugar burns very quickly at high temperature.
7. Once the sugar is the proper color and temperature, remove the cinnamon sticks from the cream and cider mixture. Slowly and carefully whisk the cream into the sugar, standing back a good distance because the candy will steam and splatter. Whisk until all of the cream is added.
8. At this point, the candy’s temperature will have dropped quite a bit. Continue to cook it until it reaches 250 degrees. Once at 250, remove it from the heat and pour it into the prepared pan.
9. Allow the caramels to sit at room temperature until cool. Once they are no longer warm, they can be refrigerated to speed the setting process. Once set, remove them from the pan using the foil as handles. Peel the foil from the backs of the caramels and cut into small squares. Wrap the squares in waxed paper to prevent them from sticking. Wrapped apple cider caramels can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. They are best served at room temperature.