We love salted caramels: plain sea salt, fleur de sel, gray sea salt, smoked sea salt (see the different types of sea salts).
They aren’t inexpensive: A box of seven smallish squares, chocolate coated and garnished with salt, is $14.00 at Fran’s.
So how about a project for a lazy Sunday: homemade salted caramels? It can also solve holiday gift-giving needs.
This recipe, which adds the seasonal touch of apple cider, was developed by P.J. Hamel for King Arthur Flour. Here are additional photos and tips.
This recipe is made in the classic French style: Salted butter is used and more salt can be added to the caramel, instead of the current vogue for sweet butter with a salt garnishing on top. We prefer the latter, so if you prefer, use unsalted butter in the recipe and garnish the top with sea salt or other fine salt.
The boiled cider that flavors the caramels is simply reduced apple cider or juice. You can make it (instructions are in the recipe that follows) or buy it (King Arthur Flour sells it). If you’re making your own, you can make it up to three months in advance.
Use the extra boiled cider to add flavor to:
Baking: Add to baked recipes that use apples: cakes, crisps, crumbles, pies, turnovers. Replace the honey or molasses in recipes for apple cake, gingerbread, spice muffins and similar recipes.
Breakfast: Drizzle over French toast, oatmeal, pancakes, waffles; stir into plain yogurt.
Condiment: Add a teaspoon to vinaigrette or barbecue sauce; drizzle over baked apples, crêpes, grilled fruit, ice cream, sorbet or frozen yogurt; spread on toast or cornbread; give better flavor to store-bought applesauce.
Try your hand at making caramels. Photos courtesy King Arthur Flour.
Dinner: Glaze grilled vegetables or poultry (brush it on) or add a bit to marinades.
RECIPE: APPLE CIDER SALTED CARAMELS
Ingredients For 64 Caramels
2 cups (1 pint) heavy cream or whipping cream
1 cup light corn syrup
2 cups sugar
6 tablespoons butter, salted or unsalted
1/2 cup boiled cider*, purchased or made (recipe follows)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon apple pie spice†
For The Boiled Cider
Prep time is 10 minutes, cook time is 1 hour. The yield is 1-1/2 cups.
8 cups fresh apple cider or apple juice
See the difference between cider vs. apple juice, below.
*You can buy ready-made boiled cider from King Arthur Flour and other baking supply retailers.
†Substitute 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ginger and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg or allspice.
TOP PHOTO: Homemade boiled apple cider. Photo courtesy Midwest Living. Here’s their
full recipe. BOTTOM RECIPE: Feeling
ambitious? Dip your caramels in melted
chocolate. Photo courtesy Alma Chocolate.
1. MAKE the boiled cider. BRING the cider to boiling in a 5- to 6-quart Dutch oven. Reduce the heat to medium and boil gently, uncovered, for 1-3/4 hours. Stir occasionally, until the cider has reduced to 1-1/2 cups. Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature.
2. TRANSFER the boiled cider to a screw-top jar with a mouth at least wide enough to insert a spoon. Cover and store in the fridge for up to 3 months. The boiled cider will thicken in the fridge. Bring it to room temperature to use in this recipe.
3. LIGHTLY GREASE an 8″ x 8″ baking pan and line with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on opposite sides.
4. COMBINE the cream, corn syrup, sugar, butter and boiled cider in a heavy-bottom, deep saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Reduce to medium-high heat and cook until the mixture reaches 248°F on a candy thermometer, 20 to 30 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat; stir in the salt and spice.
5. POUR the hot mixture into the prepared pan. Let it stand for 12 to 18 hours at room temperature before cutting into 1″ squares.
6. WRAP the caramels: Use 6″ squares of parchment paper. (We had 5-inch squares. The difference is shorter twisted ends.) Place one caramel in the center of each square; wrap the opposite edges of the paper around the caramel and twist the exposed edges to close. If you don’t have parchment paper you can use wax paper, but you need to be careful when twisting the edges because it tears more easily.
Here’s a very helpful video on how to wrap caramels.
APPLE CIDER VERSUS APPLE JUICE: THE DIFFERENCE
Since Prohibition, which began in the U.S. in 1920, “cider” has referred to the unfermented, unpasteurized apple juice. “Hard cider” is used to indicate the alcoholic beverage. In the U.K. it is the opposite, with “cider” indicating the alcoholic drink for which special cider apples are used.
Hard cider is a fermented alcoholic beverage made from the unfiltered juice of apples. The alcohol content varies from a low 1.2% ABV* to 8.5% or higher—some imported ciders can be up to 12% ABV, an average level for table wines. It does not need to be refrigerated until the container is opened.
Fresh apple cider is raw apple juice, typically unfiltered. Thus, it is cloudy from the remnants of apple pulp. It is also typically more flavorful than apple juice—although of course, the particular blend of apples used in either has a big impact on the taste. It needs to be refrigerated.
Apple juice has been filtered to remove pulp solids, then pasteurized for longer shelf life. It does not need to be refrigerated until the container is opened.