Apple Cider Caramels

Apple Cider Caramels by @browneyedbaker :: www.browneyedbaker.com

I love spending time in the kitchen and making new things, but one thing I admittedly don’t make very often is candy. I love a good caramel just as much as the next person, but for some reason things like that never jump to the top of my to-do list. I tend to be seduced by mounds of frosting and triple-chocolate anything, and then lose focus. It’s a weakness. When I do get around to making candy, I’m always amazed at the delicious results and vow to do it more often. I can honestly say that I have not fallen head-over-heels for a caramel candy recipe like I have for this one. The caramels are perfectly soft, yet maintain their shape, and taste like a piece of apple pie. Seriously. Apple pie.

Apple Cider Caramels by @browneyedbaker :: www.browneyedbaker.com

I’ve had my share of misses when it comes to making candy – batches that refused to set, batches that turned rock-hard, and batches that just flat-out didn’t work – but this was an absolutely perfect recipe. I had bookmarked it as soon as I got The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook last year, and couldn’t wait for fall to roll around again so I could make them. The apple cider is reduced down to a syrup for the caramels; I bought apple cider from a local orchard that is available at a nearby grocery store, but if you don’t have access to fresh apple cider, you could purchase boiled cider and use that in place of the reduced cider.

Apple Cider Caramels by @browneyedbaker :: www.browneyedbaker.com

As long as you have an accurate thermometer, these are a breeze to make. It’s also helpful to have all of the ingredients out, measured, and ready to go since things can move quickly when making candy. If you need to stop and measure, it could mean the difference between perfectly chewy caramels and break-your-teeth disaster.

I have a feeling we are going to go through many batches of these perfectly spiced, apple-infused caramels in years to come. A wonderful fall tradition, don’t you think?!

Apple Cider Caramels by @browneyedbaker :: www.browneyedbaker.com

One year ago: Apple Fritter Doughnuts
Three years ago: Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

Apple Cider Caramels

Yield: 64 caramels

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 55 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

These caramel candies are made with boiled apple cider and taste just like apple pie!

Ingredients:

4 cups apple cider
2 teaspoons fleur de sel (or other flaky sea salt)
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup light brown sugar
⅓ cup heavy cream

Directions:

1. Boil the apple cider in a 3- to 4-quart saucepan over high heat, stirring occasionally, until reduced to a dark, thick syrup, between ⅓-cup and ½-cup in volume. This could take anywhere from 35 to 40 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, line the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking dish with parchment paper, leaving excess hanging over the sides. In a small bowl, stir together the fleur de sel and ground cinnamon.

3. Once the apple cider has finished reducing, remove it from the heat and stir in the butter, sugars and heavy cream. Return the pot to medium-high heat with a candy thermometer attached to the side of the pan, and let boil until the thermometer reads 252 degrees F, only about 5 minutes or so.

4. Immediately remove the caramel from heat, add the cinnamon-salt mixture, and stir several times with a wooden spoon. Pour the caramel into the prepared pan. Let sit until cool and firm, about 2 hours.

5. Once the caramel is firm, use the parchment overhangs to lift it out of the pan and transfer to a cutting board. Using a very sharp knife (or large pizza cutter - my secret slicing weapon of choice) coated with non-stick cooking spray, cut the caramel into 1-inch squares. (You may need to re-spray the knife or pizza cutter multiple times while cutting.)

6. Wrap each caramel in a 4-inch square of wax paper, twisting the sides to close. The caramels can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.

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76 Responses to “Apple Cider Caramels”

  1. Maree on October 29, 2013 at 12:22 am

    Is this recipe from Annie’s Eats?

    Reply

    • Michelle on October 29th, 2013 at 9:26 am

      No, it’s from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, as stated at the bottom of the recipe.

      Reply

      • Lucky Girly on November 1st, 2013 at 1:19 pm

        It’s the same recipe, both taken from the same source.

        Reply

  2. Laura (Tutti Dolci) on October 29, 2013 at 12:35 am

    I love caramels, these look so good!

    Reply

  3. Averie @ Averie Cooks on October 29, 2013 at 2:23 am

    When I read the title, I thought, hmmmm, did she make Deb’s caramels? I’ve had my eye on this recipe for 18 mos now in her book. Ive never done it b/c I have a microwave caramel recipe that is foolproof and you dont need a thermometer and I’m with you, candy making can be hit or miss – and 10 degrees can mean soft and chewy or chip a tooth. Yeah, been there. These are gorgeous! Pinned!

    Reply

  4. Anna on October 29, 2013 at 2:45 am

    Those caramels sound amazing! I love recipes that involve apple cider. I definitely want to try these this fall.

    Reply

  5. Becca @ Crumbs on October 29, 2013 at 5:03 am

    Aw I love your presentation of these =)

    Reply

  6. Beth on October 29, 2013 at 5:32 am

    These sound interesting! Would make lovely presents, they’re so pretty!

    Reply

  7. anna @ annamayeveryday on October 29, 2013 at 5:47 am

    These look just delicious! I have never made toffees like these but am so tempted to have go, perfect for Hallowe’en.

    Reply

  8. Nancy P.@thebittersideofsweet on October 29, 2013 at 6:45 am

    I find making candy very intimidating! Especially the thermometer. I know weird. These pics make me want to try it!!

    Reply

    • Cynthia on November 4th, 2013 at 11:38 pm

      Not weird at all Nancy – candy thermometers are a nuisance! I used to avoid candy, caramel and chocolate making for the same reason. Then I took a chocolate tempering class and the chocolatier was using a laser thermometer gun (Raytek Mini Temp) to check the temp. You just point the gun at whatever you are cooking, melting, etc. and click the trigger and it shoots out a beam of light and gives you a precise reading instantly. No contact with the food = no cleanup of a messy thermometer. Also useful for checking the temperature of your oven to ensure accuracy. They aren’t cheap (about $40 online) but well worth the cost.

      Reply

  9. Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar on October 29, 2013 at 6:49 am

    These look perfect!!

    Reply

  10. Mary @ its all about the yummy on October 29, 2013 at 8:13 am

    I’ve never tried to make caramels. You have given me the inspiration. I love caramels and apple pie, the perfect combo!

    Reply

  11. Tieghan on October 29, 2013 at 9:14 am

    Wow, you got these perfect!! They look awesome!

    Reply

  12. Angelyn @ Everyday Desserts on October 29, 2013 at 9:58 am

    These look so perfect and so good!!

    Reply

  13. Erin | The Emerging Foodie on October 29, 2013 at 10:29 am

    Oh my goodness gracious, these look absolutely divine. I am usually scared of making candy/caramels but I think I would risk my pride for these! :)

    Reply

  14. Rosene on October 29, 2013 at 10:57 am

    I love your recipes. I just wish you had some pictures for the old recipes.

    Reply

  15. Mallory @ Because I Like Chocolate on October 29, 2013 at 11:05 am

    These have been on my radar for awhile now, I am going to have to try them!

    Reply

  16. Erin @ The Spiffy Cookie on October 29, 2013 at 11:16 am

    I really need to make these. I opened a carton of apple cider recently to make oatmeal but haven’t decided what to make with the rest.

    Reply

  17. Laura @ Lauras Baking Talent on October 29, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    These look great! Yum!

    Reply

  18. meg on October 29, 2013 at 12:24 pm

    These look awesome! I’ve always been scared off by making candy like this as there always seems to be some ingredients I can’t get in the UK, but these would!! Hoorah! Thanks for sharing xx

    Reply

  19. Abi Cossey on October 29, 2013 at 12:25 pm

    Look super delicious and love love carmel!!

    Reply

  20. Ashley @ Wishes and Dishes on October 29, 2013 at 12:26 pm

    I’ve never made my own caramels. These look so delish!

    Reply

  21. Kelly on October 29, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    I made caramels last year and they were delicious. The hardest part for me was cutting and wrapping them.

    Reply

  22. Deanna @DB and Jelly on October 29, 2013 at 1:14 pm

    These look really fun to make! I’m not sure I’ve ever made caramels before but they sound delicious :)

    Reply

  23. Alexandra on October 29, 2013 at 4:28 pm

    These caramels look and sound delicious. They might be the first caramels I ever make myself :-)

    Reply

  24. Tammy Urso on October 29, 2013 at 9:11 pm

    Made these tonight as I just couldn ‘t resist..they are fabulous.Took me 2 hours beginning to end,but it was worth it!!! Thanks!

    Reply

  25. Maria S. on October 30, 2013 at 8:03 am

    I am not a fan of caramels or apple cider but my kids are so I made this for them. They loved these caramels and they were a cinch to make. The most difficult part was cutting the waxed paper and wrapping them.
    Thanks for sharing the recipe!

    Reply

  26. Medha on October 30, 2013 at 12:05 pm

    If it tastes like apple pie- I am all in. Sounds like deliciousness in small packages! Love your simple ingredients and recipe! Beautifully captured too!

    Reply

  27. Val in MN on October 30, 2013 at 2:08 pm

    This recipe just convinced me to BUY a stupid thermometer and give this a try. Thank-you!

    Reply

  28. Suzanne on October 30, 2013 at 2:26 pm

    I’ve had the same thing happen to me with caramels, one batch too hard one to soft etc. I have made a recipe similar to this and loved it, so I assume this would be a hit at my house too. Lovely photos :)

    Reply

  29. Lynne on October 30, 2013 at 3:09 pm

    Do you cut your own wrappers? Or is there someplace that supplies those wax paper squares? I make my grandmother’s recipe for toffee every Christmas, and wrapping them is the hardest part. I bought some squares from King Arthur, but they are a little large. It would be great to find some already cut.

    Reply

    • Michelle on October 31st, 2013 at 11:41 am

      Hi Lynne, I did cut my own wrappers from a roll of wax paper. I haven’t found pre-cut ones, although I haven’t admittedly ton a ton of looking.

      Reply

      • Lynne on November 21st, 2013 at 9:26 am

        This is what we used from King Arthur: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/shop/items/parchment-squares-1000-pieces
        We (and when I say we, I mean my husband) folded the wrappers around them vs. twisting because they are a bit stiff. I thought that they were a little big, but a search shows me that most wrappers are at least 4″x4″, so they aren’t that much larger. The other benefit is that you can use these for other purposes.

        Reply

    • jean on November 16th, 2013 at 2:49 pm

      I bought clear ones from amazon, they are called caramel wrappers with a count of 800-1000 for around $26. They are not wax but work wonderfully with caramels and way cheaper then the packs of 50 foil ones I was buying at Michaels.

      Reply

  30. Marissa on October 31, 2013 at 9:27 am

    I made these for my co-workers for a Halloween treat. They were a huge hit and many of my co-workers asked for the recipe! Definitely adding these to my “MUST MAKE ALL THE TIME” box of recipes! ^^

    Reply

  31. Ela on October 31, 2013 at 11:46 am

    This sounds awesome! I don’t have a fleur de sel can use Kosher salt and how much do I use? Thanks!

    Reply

    • Michelle on November 1st, 2013 at 12:54 pm

      Hi Ela, I would use only a small pinch.

      Reply

  32. Dianne Eastlick on October 31, 2013 at 2:46 pm

    I just made these and they are delicious-I cant wait for them to cool. Happy Halloween everyone!

    Reply

  33. Andrea on October 31, 2013 at 3:38 pm

    They look so delicious! I live in Denmark and we don’t have apple cider though.. Is apple cider most similar to apple juice or more like apple vine? Hope my question even make sense :-)

    Reply

    • Michelle on November 1st, 2013 at 12:58 pm

      Hi Andrea, I’m not sure what apple vine is, but apple cider is close to apple juice, however it is not filtered or sweetened like juice is.

      Reply

  34. Courtney on October 31, 2013 at 4:07 pm

    What kind of thermometer do you use?

    Reply

  35. Katie on November 1, 2013 at 11:01 am

    What can I use in place of the fleur de sel, live in very small town with only one store, which do not carry even sea salt. Also can I just boil down regular purchased apple cider?

    Reply

    • Michelle on November 1st, 2013 at 12:59 pm

      Hi Katie, You could use a pinch of kosher salt. Also, yes, the directions in the recipe call for boiling apple cider.

      Reply

  36. Mariam on November 1, 2013 at 5:21 pm

    Hey I tried making them but in the last step where I’m supposed to leave the mixture on medium high heat till it reaches 252 Farrenheit, is been boiling for over an hour now and I only reached 230. I have no idea what to do..
    Thank you

    Reply

    • Michelle on November 1st, 2013 at 6:53 pm

      Hi Mariam, Oh no! It should certainly not take that long, 5 to 10 minutes, at the absolute most. Is your thermometer calibrated correctly? Since it’s actually boiling, I assume the issue is not with your stove? Did you make any changes to the recipe?

      Reply

      • Mariam Hamdy on November 2nd, 2013 at 3:58 am

        Yes I think it’s calibrated and no I didn’t make any changes to the recipes..I followed it exactly..also ofcourse my caramels are still soft they didn’t hold up free two hours I couldn’t cut them..
        I really wish I could do this right I have no problem trying over and over again..do you have any idea what might have went wrong..also if I boil it for too long like I did is that the reason why the candy didn’t hold..
        I also have to say they taste amazing..
        Thank you

        Reply

        • Kelly on November 3rd, 2013 at 3:59 pm

          I made caramels before and the same thing happened. I threw everything back into the pot and cooked it longer and they turned out perfectly.

          Reply

  37. Hannah on November 1, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    Would parchment paper work instead of waxed paper? Or do you need waxed for it to stay put when you twist them?

    Reply

    • Michelle on November 1st, 2013 at 6:53 pm

      Hi Hannah, I don’t think parchment paper would work, because I don’t think they’d stay twisted.

      Reply

      • Hannah on November 2nd, 2013 at 11:23 am

        I bet if you put a little dot of hot glue at the base of each twist they’d really stay put.

        Reply

      • Andie B. on November 4th, 2013 at 9:17 pm

        Hi! I always cut parchment squares for caramels. I just cut the squares big enough to account for extra-tight twisting. I prefer parchment to waxed paper for wrapping caramels since some caramels (especially soft ones that have been wrapped for a few days) seem to want to stick to and tear the waxed paper.

        Reply

  38. joan on November 2, 2013 at 8:30 am

    Couldn’t resist making these….they were fabulous, and easy to make. Sweet, sour and salty all @ once! I boiled the cider down and then refrigerated it for a few days. Once that step was done, they came together really quickly. I love the texture….I just might try stuffing a cupcake or muffin with these delicious nuggets.

    Reply

  39. Laura Dembowski on November 3, 2013 at 8:26 am

    Candy is one of my favorite things to make, especially caramels but I find most of the recipes don’t fully set up so if I don’t store them in the refrigerator they are soooo sticky. Can’t wait to try this recipe!

    Reply

  40. KD on November 3, 2013 at 4:19 pm

    I finally got around to making these… and they wouldn’t come off the paper when it was time to cut them. I had to throw the whole batch out :(

    Reply

  41. Allison on November 6, 2013 at 5:10 am

    I made these this evening! Overshot the temp on the last step just a hair and ended up with some really, REALLY chewy caramels. :( Additionally, these were very salty-I’m wondering if I used the wrong kind of salt! If not, I’ll cut it in half next time. Other than that, they were delicious, and I’m looking forward to making them again (right, next time)!

    Reply

    • Michelle on November 6th, 2013 at 10:59 am

      Hi Allison, Did you use a flaky sea salt, like fleur de del or maldon?

      Reply

  42. Nicole on November 12, 2013 at 6:29 pm

    Mine didn’t set ! Y?

    Reply

    • Michelle on November 13th, 2013 at 10:53 pm

      Hi Nicole, If it didn’t set, it’s because it wasn’t cooked long enough/to a hot enough temperature.

      Reply

  43. Mom of six on November 13, 2013 at 4:48 pm

    As for the waxed paper squares. Just tear off the waxed paper at about 3 inches, then cut in thirds. I make a different caramel recipe and that’s what I use for those. You can cut 3 or 4 layers at once. I am going to make these NOW! They sound fantastic.

    Reply

    • Mom of six on November 14th, 2013 at 10:27 am

      The flavor of these caramels is wonderful, but I shouldn’t have gone clear to 252 degrees, too long so they are harder than I like. 8 sec. in the microwave softened one up enough to eat!

      Reply

  44. Alex on November 14, 2013 at 6:12 pm

    Tried out this recipe as a trial run for Christmas gift baskets, texture and color were perfect but mine came out way too salty :( I used fleur de sal but I might have mismeasured or something. Super disappointed because everything else about them came out perfectly, but that’s why I do trial runs! Can’t wait to try this one again!

    Reply

    • Mom of six on February 2nd, 2014 at 10:48 pm

      I thought they were too salty as well. If I make them again I’ll probably just leave it out all together.

      Reply

  45. Axelle on November 21, 2013 at 7:24 pm

    Wow those are great and sooooo easy to make!! I made a batch today and my husband is stealing them all to give to his coworkers… Guess I’ll have to make another batch very soon… Thanks!! :)

    Reply

  46. Sarah on December 15, 2013 at 8:28 am

    I had trouble getting mine to solidify as well. The top layer did, but the bottom portion did not. Any thoughts about how to fix this? I used the proper size pan and everything, so I don’t think that is the problem. I also did not make any changes to the recipe.

    Reply

    • Michelle on December 16th, 2013 at 1:57 pm

      Hi Sarah, Unfortunately, if it doesn’t set up, the likely cause is that it wasn’t cooked long enough/to the correct temperature. You’ll want to make sure that whatever thermometer you are using is properly calibrated.

      Reply

      • Sarah on December 17th, 2013 at 8:10 am

        Would I need to start over or is it possible to try to reheat it to the proper temperature and then have it set again?

        Reply

        • Michelle on December 17th, 2013 at 8:36 pm

          Hi Sarah, Unfortunately, I have never tried to reheat caramels back to a liquid state and am not sure that it would work. You could certainly try it, but you might end up needing to start from scratch.

          Reply

        • Jessie on December 22nd, 2013 at 10:40 am

          I had the same issue on one of my batches. Instead of throwing out, I scraped the too soft caramel into a jar and reheated as an awesome caramel topping for ice cream.

          Reply

  47. Elizabeth on December 19, 2013 at 11:58 am

    Mine stuck horribly to the wax paper even after I sprayed it with cooking oil. Any suggestions for the future so I can prevent this?

    Reply

    • Michelle on December 19th, 2013 at 3:31 pm

      Elizabeth, Are you talking about inside the pan, or the wrapped individual pieces? The pan should be lined with parchment paper, not wax paper. The caramel will be so hot when you pour it into the pan that it will likely fuse with the wax paper, which is what sounds like happened.

      Reply

      • Elizabeth on December 20th, 2013 at 11:49 am

        That’s exactly what happened! Oh we’ll live and learn. What I was able to salvage was absolutely delicious and I will definitely be making again shortly. I did talk to a buddy of mine who is a pastry chef. He recommended for really sticky candy using a Silpat ( or any silicone baking mat) or heavy duty foil that’s been greased. Thanks for your help and happy holidays! :)

        Reply

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