For me, caramels were a holiday tradition. We didn’t just eat them any ol’ time. Nor did we have store bought caramels. Every time we ate one, it was a special treat. This happened mainly in the fall. We had many wild apple trees we maintained and part of the labor of love was collecting the fruit. We would collect hundreds of bushels. My nana would always make caramel apples for Halloween. She always used granny smith apples covered in her own caramel sauce. Every Halloween we’d go to her house first and get these just warm caramel covered apples then go out trick-or-treating. The smell and taste kept us warm and cozy in the cold night.
I was only too happy to stumble across this recipe, as I’ve tried many before, and see that it’s made with simple ingredients with little effort. Christina (http://www.dessertfortwo.com/2014/10/apple-cider-caramels/) has done an incredible job of producing this recipe with an end result that is a powerhouse of flavor with a touch of elegance. I’ve adapted it only slightly. It’s almost romantic, when you’re eating one.
The wrappers are whatever you’d like to use to wrap them yourself. It could be wax paper or prepared wrappers you buy. I work with fermented foods and one of the fermented foods I make is kombucha tea. It’s a fermented beverage that has a culture growing on top of the tea. It grows in layers and floats on top of the tea, sealing off the tea from the outside environment. Anyway, more on the beauty of kombucha later on. This culture that grows on top, I collected just before it starts turning opaque. Which is a sign it’s also growing thicker. Too thick and it will be difficult to chew with your soft caramel. Too thin and it will tear easily once dry, making it hard to wrap the caramels. I dried them on a wood cutting board versus a dehydrator. The pliability seems much better and the ‘wrappers’ aren’t stiff. Once dried, after a few days, I cut them into squares sized to fit the caramels. Some I cut in circles and set the caramel in the center. The wrapper itself is completely edible, has probiotics and other minerals and vitamins in it as well as it is easily wrapped and re-wrapped around the caramel.
The apple cider in the caramel is only slightly tart, as is the wrapper I’ve grown. These make a perfect flavor balance and plays perfectly with the sweetness of the rest of the caramel. The wrapper chews up just as easily as the caramel does so there is no ‘fighting’ the wrapper when eating them.
APPLE CIDER CARAMELS
- 2 cups raw apple cider (non-alcoholic)
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup light brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons heavy cream
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¾ teaspoon black sea salt (plus more for garnish along with white sea salt)
- In a 2-quart saucepan, boil the apple cider until it reduces to ¼ cup. It should take about 30 minutes on high.
- In a 2-quart saucepan, boil the apple cider until it reduces to about 1/4 cup. It should take about 30 minutes on high.
- Meanwhile, line a 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf pan with parchment paper, and spray it with cooking spray.
- Once the cider is reduced, lower the heat and add the butter, sugars, and heavy cream. Raise the heat and bring the mixture to 255-degrees Farenheit over medium-high heat. Use a candy thermometer to ensure the proper temperature.
- Immediately stir in the cinnamon and salt. Then, pour the mixture into the prepared loaf pan.
- Let the mixture cool overnight. Slice it with a knife into bite-sized pieces.
- Wrap with your favorite wrappers and enjoy!