These apple-flavored caramels really evoke the essence of the fall season. You’ll love how fast the candy cooks up, and they make a sweet homespun gift for friends and neighbors. Boiled cider is the secret ingredient that gives them warm, baked apple flavor. Add cinnamon and nutmeg, and you’ve got apple pie in candy form!
Apple Cider Caramels
Yield: 5 dozen caramels
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup light corn syrup
2 cups granulated sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
1/2 cup boiled cider*
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon powdered cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
* Boiled cider can be found at kitchen specialty stores and online at King Arthur Flour. If you can’t find boiled cider, a substitute can be made from 2 1/2 cups sweetened apple cider simmered on the stove top until reduced to 1/2 cup. The flavor will be more subtle than the purchased boiled cider, but the caramels will still have a recognizable apple flavor.
Grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan with shortening. Line it with a piece of parchment that overhangs the long edges of the pan.
Stir together the heavy cream and syrup in a 6 quart stock pot. Add the granulated sugar, cubed butter and boiled cider. Stir well until the mixture is a consistent color.
Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pot, or insert the wand of a digital thermometer into the mixture and set the alarm to 248°F.
Bring mixture to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally. When sugar is dissolved and mixture is at a full boil, decrease the heat to medium-high. The mixture will continue to bubble. Cook for 20-25 minutes, or until the candy thermometer reads 248°F.
Stir together the salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a small condiment cup. Remove the pan from the heat source. Be careful, it will still be bubbling.
Stir in the spice mixture.
Pour the caramel into the prepared pan.
Let the pan stand, uncovered, at room temperature overnight. You may also refrigerate the pan for quicker setting. Run a knife between the parchment paper and pan.
Turn the solid caramel block out on a work surface or cutting board. Cut it into 1 x 5-inch lengths.
Cut the caramel into bite-size pieces (about 1 x1-inch squares).
Wrap the caramels in 6-inch squares of wax paper and twist the ends to close. Be sure to wrap them soon after they’re cut into pieces; if left at room temperature for an extended period of time, the caramels will relax and lose their shape. Keep caramels in an air-tight container at room temperature for up to 8 days. Caramels will keep slightly longer when stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.