Apple Cider Caramels

Apple Cider Caramels

Posted by Theo Chocolate on Feb 7th 2017

We’re constantly seeking a seasonal twist on our sweets, and this recipe is inspired by the mother load of crisp, tart-sweet apples we enjoy every fall here in Washington State.

Heavily reduced cider gives these chewy caramels plenty of apple flavor; the addition of just a little citric acid brings out the apples’ tartness and cuts the sweetness of the caramelized sugar, and the spices add even more depth to a surprisingly complex-flavored morsel. A best seller in our shop every fall, they’re such a delicious and different take on soft caramel that you may just find yourself making them all year round.

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Recipe

Makes one 9-by-13-inch pan of caramels (about 96 one-inch-square pieces)

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups apple cider
  • ¾ cup light corn syrup
  • 3 ¼ cups plus 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 4 ½ cups sugar
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon citric acid
  • 3 pounds tempered Theo 70 percent dark chocolate for dipping (optional)

For the spice mixture (for decorating):

  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  1. Line a 9-by-13-inch pan with a Silpat mat and lightly oil the sides of the pan. (Or you can line the pan with 2 strips of parchment paper, one lengthwise and one widthwise, both of them long enough to hang over the sides of the pan. Spray the parchment with nonstick cooking spray.)
  2. In a small saucepan over medium heat, simmer the cider to reduce it to ¾ cup. Check the volume periodically.
  3. Put the corn syrup in a bowl that is large enough to hold it as well as the cream and cider reduction. Put the cream in a medium saucepan, add the cider reduction to it, and bring the mixture to a bare simmer. Pour the cream mixture over the corn syrup, cover the bowl with a piece of aluminum foil to keep the mixture warm, and set aside near the stove.
  4. Put about ½ cup of the sugar into a large (at least 5- to 6-quart)heavy-bottomed pot, ideally a copper jam pot. Cook the sugar over medium heat without stirring until at least half of it has liquefied, then use a wooden spoon to gently stir it, incorporating the dry sugar into the melted sugar. When it has turned golden and there’s no dry sugar left, sprinkle another cup of the sugar over the surface of the caramel and gently stir to incorporate. Repeat this, ½ cup of sugar at a time, until you’ve incorporated all the sugar. Don’t add more sugar until the previous batch has melted. If any lumps form, just press on them with the spoon and stir to let the bits melt.
  5. When all the sugar has been added, increase the heat slightly, and stir the caramel gently. It will go from looking opaque and grainy to shiny, smooth, and more liquid and the color will darken as well. When it’s perfectly smooth, very liquid, and just beginning to smoke, add about 1 cup of the hot cream mixture. Be very careful—wear an oven mitt and stand back—the caramel will bubble and steam vigorously.Stir to thoroughly mix in the cream. When the steam has subsided and the bubbles are lava-like, velvety, and popping slowly, add another cup of the cream. Repeat this process until you’ve added all the cream. Be sure to wait at least 1 minute between additions to let the caramel heat up again. (If the caramel gets too cool, or the temperature fluctuates too much, it can crystallize or seize.)
  6. Cook the caramel, stirring constantly and scraping the sides and bottom of the pot (a silicone spatula is good for this). Use a candy thermometer to carefully check the temperature of the caramel. When it reaches 258 to 260 degrees F, turn off the heat, and quickly stir in the butter. When the butter is incorporated, add the cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and citric acid, blending well. Carefully pour the hot caramel into the prepared pan. Set aside to cool completely before cutting, preferably overnight.
  7. To cut, turn the caramels out onto a chopping board. Spray a long, sharp knife with nonstick cooking spray and wipe off the excess (or just wipe the knife with a paper towel moistened with a little oil). Cut the caramels into long strips, wiping the knife between cuts and re-spraying it as necessary. Cut the strips across into squares.
  8. You can wrap the caramels in wax paper, or dip them in the tempered chocolate as you would dip ganache confections, but without the thin chocolate pre-coat. After dipping, you can decorate the caramels with a pinch of the same spice mixture we use—just wait 30 seconds to 1 minute for the chocolate to start setting up.

The caramels will keep at room temperature for up to 3 months.


Featured Ingredient

70% Dark Chocolate Baking Bar

70% Baking Bar

Dark Chocolate