I'm sure you've seen these on Pinterest, and if you haven't made them, you should! They are worth the effort...and definitely worth the calories. Plus, they are so much better than any snack-size candy bars you bought weeks ago to save for Halloween night, except we all know what will happen on Halloween ...you'll be at the store buying more candy because someone ate the stuff you were saving! Please tell me that's how it works in your cave?
As you know, Halloween is huge at The Slaughterhouse and I do my best to make sure every ghost and fiend who dares to stop by is served only the finest treats...fresh plasma, dessicated liver chips, and steaming hot eye of Newt, which is cholesterol free! Now I have something else to offer my ghoul-friends, something for them to chew on besides each other, something that will make them fly happy, howl pitch perfect and pillage with panache!
Oh, and don't think for one minute these caramels will replace my Licorice Caramels...Heavens no! They are a staple around here this time of year! Licorice Caramels AND Apple Cider Caramels are both so good, yet so different, I had to make a batch of each! And I suggest you do the same - then fill up some little treat bags for caramel worthy friends - they make great gifts, if you can stand to give them away!
Apple Cider Caramels - Adapted from Our Best Bites, via Pinterest - Original recipe from the Dairy Farmers of America
(You will need a candy thermometer to make caramels. This recipe calls for the caramel to be cooked to 248 degrees, most caramel recipes cook to 242 degrees, the soft-ball stage, but this one, because of the ingredients, needs to cook a bit longer so a candy thermometer is necessary.)
2 cups high-quality apple cider (do not use hard cider, which is alcoholic - bad for the kids!)
1 cup heavy cream, divided
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1 stick butter, cubed, plus more for greasing pan
Pour cider into a large, heavy bottomed saucepan and boil on high for about 20 minutes, or until the cider is reduced to 1/3 cup. Set aside to cool just a bit.
Line an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang for easy removal. Lightly grease the parchment paper with a bit of butter.
In a small bowl, combine 2/3 cup of the cream, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and the reduced apple cider. Set aside. Do not wash pan, you will use it again.
In a glass measuring cup, combine the remaining 1/3 cup heavy cream plus enough water to reach the 1/2 cup line. Pour this into the large saucepan and add the sugar and corn syrup. Turn heat to medium and stir until sugar dissolves. Insert a candy thermometer and simmer, stirring frequently, until the syrup reaches 234 degrees. Remove mixture from heat and slowly whisk in the cream mixture. Add the cubed butter and stir until the cream and butter are fully incorporated. Return the pan to heat and cook, over medium low heat, until the temperature reaches 248 degrees. Remove from heat and pour the caramel into the prepared pan. Let the mixture cool completely at room temperature. Cut the caramels into bite-size pieces and individually wrap in wax paper, twisting ends to secure. Store in airtight container or in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Makes about 60 caramels.