Twelve days of food gifts: apple cider caramels

twelve days of food gifts 2012: apple cider caramels | basil vodka | lemon sugar | lime sugar | Old Bay vodka | orange sugar | peppercorn vodka | rosemary salt | salted maple caramels | vanilla extract | vanilla sugar | zesty salt’n'pep

Unlike the other gifts I’ve posted so far, these caramels require a leetle more active work. But you can finish them in an afternoon rather than having to wait for things to infuse.

No fun printables for these little guys, but… they’re apple cider caramels. Nobody will complain, I promise.

The endorsement from my friend Brian: “Those caramels are good. I mean they’re really, really good.”

apple cider caramels

Apple Cider Caramels
Adapted ever-so-slightly from Apple Cider Caramels by Deb Perelman in the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

Makes approximately 49 caramels

4 cups fresh apple cider
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup heavy cream

In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, boil apple cider. Boil, stirring occasionally, until reduced to a thick, dark syrup. You’ll be left with 1/3 to 1/2 cup syrup from the original 4 cups of cider. If you can raise the heat up a little higher without it burning, do so — it’ll speed the process up. I had smoke detector issues, so I didn’t. Over medium heat, it took me about an hour.

That’s fine, because while that’s reducing you can get everything else in order.

First off, prep an 8″x8″ baking pan. Line the pan with two criss-crossing strips of parchment paper that are long enough to allow overhang on both sides.

In a small bowl, mix together salt and cinnamon.

Once the cider is reduced, remove from heat. Stir in butter, sugar, brown sugar, and heavy cream until integrated. Put your candy thermometer in, and return the pot to medium heat. Let it boil without stirring until the thermometer reads 252 degrees. Keep a close eye — the temperature jumps erratically.

Once it hits 252, immediately remove from heat and stir in cinnamon/salt. Scrape into prepared pan. Let sit for 2 hours, until cool and firm. You can pop it into the fridge to speed things up.

Lift up the ends of the parchment paper to transfer caramel to a cutting board. Cut into 1″ strips, then cut each strip into 1″ pieces.

Wrap each caramel individually in a 4″x4″ square of waxed paper and twist the sides to close.

Caramels will keep stored in an airtight container for 2 weeks.