Last fall, I went apple picking for the first time, and it was awesome! I've always wanted to go apple picking, but this is the first time in my life I've lived less than an hour's drive away from an apple orchard. At the orchard, along with my fresh-off-the-tree apples, a dozen homemade apple cider donuts, and some garlic cheese curds, I picked up a bottle of apple cider specifically so I could try out this recipe. I'm very glad I did.
These caramels are amazing! They have a strong apple flavor with touch of cinnamon, like apple pie. I was very impressed by the apple flavor. There's the yummy butteriness and the occasional bite of sea salt that mellows out the sweetness. Straight out of the refrigerator, the texture is firm and chewy, but at room temperature, the texture is soft and sticky, adaptable to different people's preferences (I like them straight out of the fridge). And now I'm thinking about what other fruit flavored caramels I will make next :)… I definitely recommend you give this recipe a try!
Apple Cider Caramels
adapted from Smitten Kitchen
4 cups apple cider
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
1 stick (8 tbsp) butter, cut up into 8 pieces
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp flaky sea salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Boil the apple cider over high heat until it reduces to 1/3-1/2 cup of liquid. (This took me 2 hours, but in the original recipe it took about 40 minutes, so I guess it definitely depends on the size of your pot. I used a normal saucepan.)
While the apple cider is reducing, mix the sea salt and cinnamon together in a bowl; set aside for later. Spray a 8x8" square cake pan with nonstick spray and line it with two crisscrossing rectangles of parchment paper.
Once the cider is reduced, remove from heat. Add in the cream, butter, sugar, and brown sugar and stir. Return to heat and let boil until it reaches 252°F, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the cinnamon/salt mixture. Pour the caramel into the prepared cake pan. Let sit until firm, about 2 hours.
Remove the caramels from the pan by pulling on the edges of the parchment paper and transfer to a cutting board. Oil your knife well (I sprayed mine with nonstick spray every few cuts). Cut into as many pieces as desired. Wrap the pieces in squares of wax or parchment paper. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.