*Bunneh baking for fun; not for sale*
Last year, I learned how to boil apple cider to make syrup, so that I could make an apple upside-down cake by
demandrequest of a friend. In the process of finding out how to do that, I found a recipe for apple cider caramels. This year, I decided the time had come to give those a shot.
The first step was once again making the syrup. This involves pouring a whole bunch of apple cider in a big ol’ pot and letting it sit on the stove simmering for hours… and hours… and hours. Your whole house starts smelling really good. The instructions that I found said to use a chopstick and mark it at the start, and mark it at the 1/3 point, and when your cider is reduced to that 1/3 mark, it’s done.
I didn’t bother with all that exact measuring tomfoolery the first time and felt like my syrup wasn’t as good as it could have been (I felt this with my very solid experience of never having even heard of, much less tasted, boiled cider syrup before in my life). This time I used a wooden skewer and tried that method, but when the cider was reduced to 1/3, it was definitely not at all a syrup yet. So… I just wandered off and let it keep simmering.
Once again, I’m left with this vague feeling that I could have done better, but in the end I had a jar of syrup made from apple cider, so I suppose I succeeded.
A few days later, I tackled the rest of the process.
Pull out the big ol’ pot again! Dump in the cream, butter, sugar, corn syrup, and of course the all-important boiled cider syrup. Once again, there’s simmering. This time I was told not to stir, so I used that time to discover I had no idea where my candy thermometer was hiding. Mere minutes before the timer went off, I found it in a box in the basement. Hooray! Rinsed it off, clipped it to the side of the pot, and had a moment of feeling like a real candy-making professional.
When the delicious-smelling pot of bubbling froth reached the right temperature (248 degrees. Not 245, not 250.), I pulled it off the heat. I’d already made my “apple pie spice” – a mix of cinnamon, ginger, and allspice. For this particular recipe, the ratio was 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp ginger, and 1/4 tsp allspice (or nutmeg).
That was mixed in along with the salt, and then it’s all poured into my parchment-lined pan. And then, once again…. we wait…
Yep, 12-18 hours of waiting. OH THE HUMANITY!!
Finally, the next night, unable to take it anymore, I decided it was the packaging hour. I cut up the caramel… only to have it not-quite-slowly ooooooze back together in the warm kitchen, like the liquid metal of Terminator 2.
I also neglected to notice the bit of advice in the recipe that suggests wrapping your caramels in parchment paper – I pulled out plastic wrap and cut it into smaller squares, then cut each caramel off individually and wrapped them.
It was a giant mess.
The end result, though, is a suuuuuuper tasty caramel. A woman at work had the brilliant suggestion that I sprinkle the tops with a bit of sea salt next time, and I had rave reviews from other coworkers:
“This is game-changing.”
“This is like a liquefied apple muffin.”
“conclusion: that thing was delicious. second conclusion: not sure if snack, or bioweapon, because of how impossible it is to eat cleanly and how well it sticks to skin.”
“THIS IS HOW WE GET ANTS.”
…Okay, I swear the last one came from someone who enjoyed his caramel; he just also managed to get it all over his fingers. These are gooey, guys. They’re not like those tidy little perfect rectangles of Brach’s caramels you buy in the store. These are ooey-gooey blobs of homemade deliciousness, and yes, I will be making them again!