When visiting Minnesota, I went to an orchard that made a variety of things including apple caramels. I bought a couple to try and I just loved them! I really wanted to try making them myself. This recipe doesn't copy them exactly, but they are still great and I think it is all about the apple juice or cider you make them with.
Regardless, these apple caramels are a really tasty alternative to traditional caramels. If you want something yummy, but a little different, this is the recipe to try this holiday.
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Step 1: Supplies
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- ¾ cup frozen apple juice concentrate, thawed (should be about half a frozen apple juice container)
- or boiled cider
- or boil cider down until you have about 3/4 cup worth - you'll probably need to start with 4 or 5 cups of cider
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 1 1/2 cup sugar - I originally tried a combination of light brown sugar and white sugar, but I prefer it made with just white sugar.
- 1/2 - 1 teaspoon salt - I personally don't like my caramels salty, but if you do, use 1 teaspoon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon - if you use a spiced cider, you probably won't need any additional spices, but it's your call
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Saucepan - go bigger rather than smaller as it will bubble and boil
- 8" by 8" container - if it has a cover that's handy
- Candy Thermometer - the one that I have handily says when your temperature reaches firm ball stage
- Measuring utensils
- Parchment Paper and or Wax Paper - I used parchment for in the glass container and wrapped the caramels in wax, but you could probably just use either or
Step 2: Starting Your Caramel
Start by melting your butter. I melted mine in the saucepan and then removed it from heat when it was all melted.
Add your candy thermometer to your pan. If you don't have a thermometer, you can also do a water test to see when your caramel is ready.
Add in your apple juice concentrate, heavy cream, and sugar. Mix well and return to heat.
Set on high and keep an eye on it. Turn it down if it is getting out of control or up if it doesn't seem like it's doing anything.
Keep an eye on the thermometer, you want it to reach Firm Ball stage which is about 245 - 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
The first time I made these I let them get closer to the hard ball stage and I wasn't happy with the outcome. I highly recommend stopping at the firm ball stage.
Step 3: Add in Last Ingredients
Before the caramel is done, make sure you prep your pan. You can line the pan with parchment paper or smear it with butter.
Once your mixture hits firm ball stage, remove it from the heat.
Add in your salt, cinnamon, and vanilla. Mix well.
Once it is mixed all the way and it's not bubbling, pour it into your prepared pan.
Let it cool before moving on. If you are short on time, put it in the fridge. If you put it in the fridge, you may need to nuke the caramels for a short time (assuming your container is microwave safe) to soften them up enough to cut.
Step 4: Cut
If you used parchment paper, it is really easy to transfer the caramels to a cutting board. Cut up the caramels into pieces the size you want them and wrap them up. It usually takes me a couple rows to get the size and shape I want. I used my hand to give you an idea of size, but do whatever you want for yours.
It's easiest to wrap them in wax paper and then twist the ends.
Step 5: Enjoy