Day 21: 24 Days of Green Christmas – Caramels as Edible Gifts

I was going to include this Apple Cider Caramels recipe in last weekend’s baking post but I didn’t get a chance to take photos. And good thing I rushed to take these today because they were being gobbled up preeeet…ty fast.

I usually make Chocolate Butterscotch Peanut Toffee as holiday gifts. But I wanted to try something different this year for an edible gift. And being that there’s apple cider (fruit) in them, if by a remote chance that some don’t end up actually leaving this house, I  won’t feel as guilty gobbling them up.

Making caramels can be tricky, I won’t lie. But after you make a couple of batches, you’ll get the hang of it and you’ll love giving them as gifts. The recipient will think you are a gourmet chef and longingly wait for your sweet indulgence annually.

Caramel Making Tips

The most important thing to remember about making caramels (or any candies) is to buy a good candy thermometer (even the good ones are very inexpensive but make sure to buy one that you can easily read and has small increments of degrees.) Also use a heavy pot that is bigger than the liquid portion of the recipe. It’s always best to have some maneuvering room inside the pot with the thermometer standing guard while your spoon is stirring. Make sure you don’t leave the stove area – this is not the time to catch up on your book “War and Peace” or on how the Kardashians are doing after the divorce. If you blink, you’ll want to divorce the caramels for making a fool out of you.

Organic Apple Cider Caramels

Adapted from Our Best Bites

  • 2 c. organic apple cider – from a local farm is even better.
  • 1 c. organic heavy whipping cream, divided into 2/3 C and 1/3 C
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. allspice
  • 1 1/2 c. organic sugar
  • 1/3 c. light organic corn syrup
  • 1 stick (1/2 c.) organic butter, cubed

You’ll need:

  • Medium saucepan
  • 8″x8″ Glass pan
  • Small Bowl
  • Large heavy saucepan
  • Parchment Paper
  • Baking spray
  • Candy Thermometer
  • Oven Mitts

Directions:

  1. Pour cider into a medium saucepan and boil on high for about 20 minutes or until the cider is reduced to 1/3 c. It might sputter so put a lid on it until it’s reduces quite a bit. You will have to keep a heat resistant measuring cup nearby so you can pour it out to measure. I had to do this like four times! The reduced syrupy cider will boil down fast so keep an eye on it. When you have about 1/3 C, take the pan off the stove and set aside to cool.
  2. Line an 8″ square glass pan with parchment paper with about 1-2″ overhang for easy removal. Spray lightly with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, combine 2/3 C cream, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and reduced apple cider. Set aside.
  4. In a large heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, 1/3 c. whipping cream and enough water to reach the 1/2 c. line on the measuring cup, and corn syrup. Insert the candy thermometer and simmer in low heat until the syrup reaches 234 degrees.
  5. Remove from heat and slowly whisk in the cream mixture. Add the cubed butter and return the pan to heat and re-insert the candy thermometer. Cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until the temperature reaches 248 degrees. This will take about 15 minutes but it will get bubbly. Watch the thermometer as it gets close to 248 degrees as the hot caramel can surpass that temperature very quickly, making the caramel to get too hard. So keep a close watch on it. 
  6. When the temperature reaches 248 degrees, remove the pan from heat and pour the caramel into the prepared pan. 
  7. Let the mixture cool completely at room temperature or in the refrigerator. Cut the caramels into desired size – about 1/2″ squares – and wrap each caramel in wax paper. Store in an airtight container to give as a gift or store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Enjoy!