Apple Cider Caramels
An outing to the apple orchard is something I do every fall with my children. It is really the highlight of our autumn season and is a great way to celebrate the beginning of autumn here in the Midwest. We love to get out in nature and be surrounded by various species of apple trees to eat and pick to our heart’s content. Is there anything better than stuffing your face with freshly picked apples?
We normally pick Honey Crisp Apples as these are our absolute favorites. However, this year, we invited some friends to come with us and due to scheduling, we missed the picking time frame for our favorite apples. So, we were left to pick Golden Delicious, Fuji and Jonagold -- none of which we had ever picked before. Since these varieties of apples were new to us, we were curious on the flavor and "the what to do" with these apples once we carried them all home.
We sampled all three of these apples whilst picking and decided that the Jonagold were our favorites of the day . . . but Honey Crisp will still forever be our absolute favorite. Golden Delicious Apples were mellow, sweet and tart with a yellow skin. The Fuji Apples were very sweet, juicy and crisp and my kids really liked these. The Jonagolds were sweet, crispy and juicy with a hint of tartness -- which I love in an apple - tart and crisp is my all time favorite!
Once you tote all your apples home . . . we had five bags . . . how to keep them fresh . . . because believe me, an outing to the apple orchard for freshly picked apples is not cheap.
BEST WAY TO STORE APPLES
Apples that you pick from an apple orchard can be refrigerated right in the crisper storage bin or in a bag with tiny holes. Be sure there are not any other fruits and vegetables in the crisper either. If you store your apples properly in your refrigerator, they can last about 6-8 weeks. mine usually last well through to Thanksgiving -- I always use the last our our apples for holiday pies. But, if you choose to leave your apples out, they will keep at room temperature for about two weeks.
I have one recipe that we made this week for my daughter who happens to have a slight addiction to caramel.
These Apple Cider Caramels are so soft and chewy and simply delicious! They have a delicious apple flavor and you can add a bit of spice with nutmeg. You can leave out the nutmeg if you don't care for this flavor and substitute All Spice instead or completely leave both of these out. My kids tend to not like either of these spices, so I made them a batch without the spice for their tastes.
Apple Cider Caramels
- 1½ cups whipping cream (heavy cream)
- 1 cup light corn syrup(or dark)
- 2 cups raw sugar
- 6 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 cup boiled apple cider
- ½ tsp real salt
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ground ginger
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
1) Lightly grease an 8"x8" pan and line with parchment paper, leaving enough paper to hang over all sides of the pan
2) Boil the apple cider. In a large saucepan, combine the cream, corn syrup, sugar, butter and the now boiling apple cider. Bring this mixture to a rolling boil over a high heat and stir constantly until all the sugar is dissolved.
3) Reduce the heat to medium high and cook, there is no need to keep stirring, until the caramel mixture reached 250ºF on a candy thermometer (this will take approximately 30 minutes).
4) Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in all the spices and salt.
5) Pour the hot caramel mixture into your lined pan. Let stand for 12-18 hours at room temperature before attempting to slice.
6) Wrap the slices of caramel in 6" parchment paper squares. Place the sliced caramel in the center of the square, roll both sides around and twist the sides of the paper to close the piece. Store in a cool location.
Customize Your Caramel
Here is my favorite - when you come home from the apple orchard, be sure to grab a dozen apple cider donuts . . . slice the donut in half, scoop some vanilla ice cream in the middle and pour over some of apple cider caramel sauce - SO DELISH! You can make an Apple Cider Caramel Sauce instead of making this reicpe into candy pieces as well. The Apple Cider Caramel Sauce could be used on cakes, desserts or a topping for ice cream or pour some over an Apple Cider Donut like I just indicated! You would simply need to change the temperature whilst boiling the caramel mixture. Instead of boiling to 250ºF, you can take the caramel mixture off the heat at 230ºF.
Once the Caramel Sauce reaches the 230ºF, simply remove the saucepan and pour the caramel mixture into a jar and pop it into the fridge. This makes the consistency a bit softer than the candy pieces. If you have a taste for something sweet some night, just grab a spoonful - it is so good to eat by the spoonful as well! ☺
Additionally, if you would like Salted Apple Cider Caramel Candy, simply toss on some large sea salt flakes after the caramel has been sitting in the pan for about 30 minutes. The sea salt will slowly sink in the caramel and disappear, but you will have that sweet ad savory taste in every bite!