I had a really good mail day recently. It helps that I got tired of the stack of bills needing to be shredded--one evening I switched everything to paperless that I could manage, which means most of the mail now is either total junk or good stuff. On the day in question, I think I got a new Cook's Illustrated magazine, an issue of Bon Appetit, a Crate and Barrel catalog, a Stash Tea catalog and a King Arthur catalog. Definitely good stuff. =) (And you can probably guess, I don't check my mail every day--it had kind of piled up.) In the back of the KAF catalog, there were some fun Halloween treats, including a picture of Boiled Cider Caramels. I quickly jumped online to find the recipe.
I will probably end up making the caramels sometime during the holidays. But I wasn't in the mood to cut up and wrap lots of pieces of caramel. Then it occurred to me that I could add boiled cider and spices to one of my favorite caramel sauces and come up with something similar. I decided to go with a classic recipe from Cook's Illustrated, scaling it back by half since this was an experiment. I added a bit of corn syrup for insurance against crystallization. Once I'd whisked the cream into the caramel, I added boiled cider one tablespoon at a time until I had a flavor I liked. I made my own version of apple pie spice by adding a mix of cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg. I also added more than the original pinch of salt, since I like salty caramel.
The verdict? I was a bit surprise at how much flavor the boiled cider brings to the caramel, but I'm still trying to decide if I'm happy with the amount of spice. It seemed a bit heavy on the cinnamon at first, but was better after a day or two. The caramel is tasty on top of vanilla ice cream and stirred into tea or warm apple cider, but it's really good as a dip for apple slices. I know, big surprise, right? =)
I'll definitely be making this again, and playing around with it some more. I'm including my rough recipe if you'd like to try it yourself. If you haven't made caramel before, here's a good resource from Fine Cooking, including a video so you can see what it's supposed to look like. (I do things a little differently, based on the Cook's Illustrated recipe.)
Apple Cider Caramel Sauce
(adapted from Cook's Illustrated and King Arthur Flour)
60 grams (2 ounces) water
200 grams (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
22 grams (1 tablespoon) light corn syrup
115 grams (1/2 cup) heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
60 grams (about 3 tablespoons) boiled cider
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
15 grams (1 tablespoon) unsalted butter