I just love Halloween week! My sisters and I have the best Halloween memories and dressing up and trick-or-treating was always one of the highlights of the entire year. I have been embracing all things orange and black, burning my pumpkin candles and during the day while I'm working at home, Wrigley and I like to listen to the Spooky Sounds of the Season on Music Choice. We're partial to Thriller and The Monster Mash. (it's a graveyard smash!) Alas, I took a Halloween dance party break this afternoon to link up with my favorite AP because this recipe is one to be shared this week.
This week's Pinterest inspired treat is the perfect sweet ending to the glorious month that is October. My sister discovered this recipe and I immediately re-pinned it, hoping we could spend some time in the kitchen making them together. Candy making is something I haven't spent a ton of time doing but I'm learning that it's a slow process that requires some patience. My biggest piece of advice is to take your time and carefully follow instructions to ensure the best results. A candy thermometer is a must, too.
These Spiced Apple Cider Caramels are soft, perfectly chewy and have a delightful balance of cider and caramel. Like a caramel apple, in decadent caramel form. We are packaging these little treats up to send off in festive care packages to some special lovies. Our afternoon in the kitchen was well worth it! Even Ozzie agrees.
Spiced Apple Cider Caramels
2 cups Apple Cider
2 Tbsp. mulling spices (I like Fresh Market's)
2 cups pure cane sugar
1.5 cups heavy cream
1 cup corn syrup
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
pinch kosher salt
Start by combining the mulling spices (Fresh Market's mulling spices come in powder form and dissolve into the cider) and apple cider in a large sauce pan over medium heat. Bring to a low boil and simmer for about 20 minutes. Once the liquid has reduced to about 1/2 cup, set aside.
Prepare a 9 x 9" pan and line with lightly buttered parchment paper.
In a large, heavy sauce pan, combine sugar, corn syrup, salt and once cup of the heavy cream. Place over medium heat, stirring frequently with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon, bringing the mixture to a boil. This will take some time. Don't be tempted to turn the heat up. This requires patience.
Once the mixture boils, add the remaining half cup of heavy cream and the apple syrup in a slow trickle so your caramel mixture continues to boil, uninterrupted. Allow the mixture to boil for 5 minutes without stirring. Then, add the butter, one tablespoon at a time, stirring after each piece has melted. Wash down the sides of the pot with a damp pastry brush as needed.
Now clip on your candy thermometer and allow to boil over mediummedium-low heat until the mixture just hits 255°F. This should take about 30 minutes, if your temperature is climbing too quickly you might need to reduce the heat. By the same token, if you're not hitting 255°F by 40 minutes you might want to increase the heat a bit.
Once you've hit the right temperature, quickly remove the pot from the heat and pour into your prepared pan. Don't scrape the pot. Allow the caramel to cool completely before lifting the caramel slab from the pan using the parchment.
(Tip: If you notice tiny beads of butter on top of your caramel, don't fret. Just lightly blot them off with a paper towel. This is usually from pouring the caramel into the buttered pan, not from the caramel separating (though that can happen if the candy crystalizes).
Cut the caramel slab into small pieces using a sharp buttered knife. To avoid any arrgh-caramel-sticking-to-knife-headaches, I recommend using a sawing motion, pushing lightly with your buttered knife blade. Wrap each piece in a square of parchment. Store in an air tight container for up to 2 weeks.