Apple Cider Caramels – Rich, chewy caramels made with yummy apple cider and spices. And it’s so simple to make! I’ll walk you through each step so you can easily make them, too.
I’ve been baking up tons of fall treats (like these and don’t forget these), decorating my house with all things festive (while also making us broke), and adding to my collection of fall jackets and boots.
You’re probably like “Okay Sharon…that’s basically all of us.” Well, then I guess that makes us #basic. But that’s okay! Fall is all about comfort and I make no apologies for taking part in the basic activities that go along with that.
Which leads me to today’s fall-inspired treat: apple cider caramels!
I first made caramels about 4 years ago when I first begin blogging (and about 2 months before I took my 4-year hiatus). They were your simple sea salt caramels that melted in your mouth as soon as they hit your tongue. Simply amazing.
The recipe I used for my sea salt caramels was so perfect (thank you, Barefoot Contessa!) but I wanted to change it up a bit and give it a fall makeover, if you will.
Enter apple cider.
The recipe I used for the sea salt caramels calls for 1/4 cup of water so I simple just substituted the cider for the water. I also added 1/2 teaspoon of apple pie spice to bring out the flavor of the cider.
And man, did it ever! Each bite of the apple cider caramels was a little taste of fall. And the chew was perfect. As soon as you bite into it, the caramel starts to dissolve into puddle of rich, buttery liquid so there’s no chance that these are gonna stick to your teeth.
Now, I know making caramels at home can sound intimidating. But after you’ve made them once, you’ll see how super easy it is to do. Here are some tips that will help you get your bearings before tackling them for the first time:
- Apple cider is NOT the same thing as apple juice. Apple cider is cloudy instead of clear because it’s unfiltered, which means tons of more apple flavor. You really need cider for this recipe. I easily found some in the produce section of the grocery store, next to the orange juice. Your local farmer’s market should have it, too.
- You absolutely need a candy thermometer for this recipe. No ifs, ands, or buts about it! I’ve made these a few times and still cannot tell the difference between the 250 degree stage and the 275 degree stage with my naked eye. But it makes a huge difference in the texture of the caramels. So trust me, if you want to make these and want them to taste good, buy yourself a candy thermometer. Here’s the one that I have, in case you need a recommendation. I love it because it’s digital and has an adjustable head.
- You need to be 100000% focused when makes these. That means no multi-tasking! I know it’s gonna be hard but trust me, only seconds separate you from caramelized sugar and burnt sugar. Seconds people! This is not a drill.
- I suggest adding flaky sea salt to the tops of the caramels to help balance them out. The caramels are slightly too sweet for me on their own so I need the added salt. I highly recommend it. But if you’re really against it, you don’t have to add it. This is the kind of flaky salt I have and I love it because it’s mild and has a beautiful flaky shape.
- When you’re cutting the caramels, you might need to spray your knife with cooking spray. This will prevent the knife from sticking.
I hope you enjoy these caramels! What other things are you doing to ring in the fall season?? Let me know if the comments below!
Apple Cider Caramels
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons butter unsalted
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup apple cider
- 1/2 cup light corn syrup
- 1 teaspoon apple pie spice
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons flaky sea salt (for sprinkling)
- Prepare an 8x8 square pan by lining it with parchment paper and spraying with cooking spray. The best way to do this is to get two long, narrow sheets of parchment paper and criss-cross them over the pan, with some paper hanging over the edges. This makes it easy to pull the caramel out of the pan to cut it. Set aside.
- Add cream, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and butter to a small saucepan. Place on stove and turn on heat to medium low. Heat through until butter is melted and then turn off heat. Set aside.
- Add sugar, apple cider, and corn syrup to a 4-quart saucepan and stir until combined. Use a spatula to scrape all the sugar granules from the side of the saucepan. This will keep the caramels' texture smooth.
- Add a candy thermometer to the sauce pan so that the tip is emerged in the caramel and clip to the side of the sauce pan. Turn heat to medium to begin the caramelization process. Do not stir at all during this step. The mixture will begin to bubble and the temperature will slowly climb. The color will begin to change after 250 degrees but don't remove it from the heat until about 295-300 degrees. This will ensure that the caramels are a deep golden brown.
- Remove from heat and remove thermometer. Add warmed cream mixture to the caramelized sugar. Slowly whisk the mixture together. Be very careful in this step! The mixture will bubble violently and triple in size. Add thermometer back to the combined mixture.
- Heat combined mixture over medium heat until it gets to about 245-250 degrees. Do not stir! As soon as it gets to the desired temperature, remove from heat and immediately sprinkle in apple pie spice and vanilla and whisk together. Pour into prepared pan.
- Let caramels cool down and set for a few hours, preferably overnight. If you're in a rush, you can place them in the fridge until solid. Sprinkle with flaky salt before cutting.
- Cut parchment paper or waxed paper into 48 4x4 squares. This will be used to wrap the caramels. Once caramels are set, cut into 8 long strips and then 6 strips the other direction. This will give you 48 caramels. Place each caramel on a parchment paper square, roll them and then twist in the opposite direction. Repeat with remaining squares.