These chewy treats are like caramel apples in candy form, combining the tangy-sweet flavor of cider with buttery caramel. To create your own spin on them, use a flavored apple cider or add different spices, like ground ginger or black pepper.
2 quarts apple cider
3 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
4 cups sugar
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 stick unsalted butter, cold; diced
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 pinch of ground allspice
1 pinch of ground cloves
Neutral oil, such as canola or grapeseed, for brushing
How to Make It
In a large saucepan, simmer the apple cider over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until reduced to 1 cup, about 1 hour. Pour the reduced cider into a bowl.
Line a 9-by-13-inch rimmed pan with foil and coat the foil with nonstick cooking spray. In a medium saucepan, combine the heavy cream and condensed milk and bring to a simmer over moderate heat; keep the mixture warm over low heat.
In another large saucepan, combine the sugar with the reduced apple cider, corn syrup, water and salt and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderate heat until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Carefully whisk in the butter until melted. Gradually whisk in the warm cream mixture until incorporated. Cook over moderately low heat, stirring frequently, until a golden caramel forms and the temperature reaches 245° on a candy thermometer, about 45 minutes. Stir in the cinnamon, allspice and cloves and scrape the caramel into the prepared pan. Let cool completely, then refrigerate the caramel overnight.
Lightly brush a sheet of parchment paper with oil. Invert the caramel onto the parchment and peel off the foil. Using a sharp knife, cut the caramel into 1-inch-wide strips, then cut the block crosswise into 1/2-inch rectangles. Wrap each caramel in a square of parchment paper or a candy wrapper and twist the ends to seal. Serve or pack the caramels into boxes.
I made these with some very good locally made apple cider. They were excellent and worth the effort. The only laborious part was wrapping each one. Next time I will cut all the wrappers first. One comment from a friend (a Southerner used to really good sweets) was, 'That might be the best caramel I have ever had!'