I have been on cider bender the past few months. Since early October my fridge has contained no less than one half-gallon of fresh apple cider, purchased anywhere from Farmer’s Markets to the grocery store. I’ve drank it straight, mulled with Applejack and used it for various cooking endeavors, like this brined pork roast.
However, the best creation I made are these apple cider caramels from an old issue of Food & Wine magazine. They tasted (depending on which friend of mine you asked) like caramel apple pops, apple fritters or candied apples. To me they were just as I imagined, a perfect combination of the spiced cider flavor — cloves, cinnamon and tart apple — and creamy decadent caramel.
They were also luxuriously soft. While they’d hold their shape in the refrigerator, once popped in your mouth, they would melt almost instantly. They were so good I had to fight my natural instinct to hoard them and instead manged to share them with co-workers, friends and even some of my favorite customers in Seattle.
My friend Ariel loved them so much I think I have to make a batch just for her and her husband to enjoy. I gave her a few to take home and got this hilarious text message later that night: “Holy sheep shit, Batman” is what Eric said after trying a bite of one of your caramels. Now that’s a compliment, people!
Anyways, onto the process: I won’t say these delicious little guys are quick to throw together. Planning ahead is definitely necessary. Reducing the cider took about an hour and getting the caramel to the right temperature took at least that long. But the end results are so, so worth it. Also I only made a half batch and still had plenty to share. If you want to give these out as holiday gifts, a full batch will make around 120-150 caramels!
And a little hint: I used an already spiced cider for my reduction. I was worried the spices would become too intense, but other recipe reviews had mentioned they had wanted a more “cider” flavor so I went with it. And it was a great decision — the spices came through loud and clear but were not overwhelming.