Salted Apple Cider Caramels
Not to panic anyone, but Thanksgiving is NEXT WEEK. Let that settle in for a moment. You okay? I think I have a mild case of panic and the only thing I have to worry about making this year is pie (she says as she orders a turkey breast to roast because OMG, TURKEY) … but, really: how, HOW, is Thanksgiving next week?
For those of us lucky enough to not be hosting Thanksgiving (it’s SO MUCH work, seriously – thank your host) we don’t have to worry about cleaning our house, cooking all the foods, people trampling all over our house, things getting spilled on the carpet, the dog, the cat, the baby, the one weird uncle … I could go on, but basically our hosts deserve our unending gratitude and maybe a little something to say thank you.
The art of giving a host/hostess gift seems to be a thing of days gone by. Generally, it doesn’t have to be anything fancy: flowers, a bottle of wine, a gift card for coffee, or a special treat like salted apple cider caramels.
These caramels take a little bit of work to make (and you can TOTALLY make them without a candy thermometer), but they are worth every second you spend making them. They are jam-packed with buttery-apple goodness and are perfectly kissed with a bit of salt. Put them in a mason jar and tie a bit of raffia around the lid – PRESTO instant host/hostess gift.
Sidebar: Have you read Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert? I’m working my way through it for the second time (because I needed a Big Magic booster as it were). If you are creative in any kind of way, you need to read this book. If you’re like me you’ll find yourself nodding and underlining your way though this book and once you’ve read it, hopefully, you’ll feel clearer and more centered. 10/10 would recommend.
Second Sidebar: I participated in a pie contest this month and I’m going to take a minute to low-key brag that I WAS IN THE PAPER.
Third Sidebar: It’s winter squash season, you need to make Mushroom, Apple, and Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash.
Salted Apple Cider Caramels
Originally from SmittenKitchen
4 cups (945 ml) apple cider
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 – 1 teaspoons flaky sea salt (plus extra salt to sprinkle on top)
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup heavy cream
Neutral oil for the knife
Boil the apple cider in a 3- to- 4- quart saucepan over high heat until it is reduced to a dark, thick syrup, between 1/3 and 1/2 cup in volume. This takes about 35 to 40 minutes on my stove. Stir occasionally.
Meanwhile, get your other ingredients in order, because you won’t have time to spare once the candy is cooking. Line the bottom and sides of an 8- inch straight- sided square metal baking pan with 2 long sheets of crisscrossed parchment. Set it aside. Stir the cinnamon and flaky salt together in a small dish.
Once you are finished reducing the apple cider, remove it from the heat and stir in the butter, sugars, and heavy cream. Return the pot to medium- high heat for about 5 minutes. Keep a close eye on it.
Have a bowl of very cold water ready, and cook the caramel until a tiny spoonful dropped into the water becomes firm, chewy, and able to be plied into a ball.
Immediately remove caramel from heat, add the cinnamon, salt, and give the caramel several stirs to distribute it evenly. Pour caramel into the prepared pan. Let it sit until cool and firm—about 2 hours. Once caramel is firm, use your parchment paper sling to transfer the block to a cutting board. Use a well- oiled knife, oiling it after each cut (trust me!), to cut the caramel into 1-by-1-inch squares. Sprinkle each caramel with a pinch of sea salt at this point if you’re feeling the salted caramel vibe.
Wrap each one in a 4-inch square of waxed paper, twisting the sides to close. Caramels will be somewhat on the soft side at room temperature, and chewy/firm from the fridge.
Do ahead: Caramels keep in an airtight container at room temperature, for two weeks, but really, good luck with that.
Will you be bringing along a host/hostess thank you gift this year? Gave this recipe a try? How were they? Let us know.1