The recipe I started with is here. It's likely a good base recipe at sea level. But, as is always the case, things are different when you live a mile or so above the sea. Humidity matters more, sugar content matters more, and temperatures are critical. So, through much trial and error, I modified the recipe to make it work. What I have listed below is how I made it. Down in the Moose Tracks section I have info on the proper temperatures if you're not sitting pretty at 7k ft in elevation.
Apple Cider Caramels
2 cup high-quality apple cider
1 cup heavy cream or whipping cream, divided
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup real butter, cubed, divided
- Boil cider in a medium saucepan for about 20 minutes or until the cider is reduced to 1/3 c.
- Line an 8" square pan with aluminum foil (or parchment paper), making sure to leave about 1" hanging over the edges for easy removal. Coat with a spritz of oil spray (I like olive oil or canola oil)
- In a small bowl, combine 2/3 c. cream, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and reduced apple cider. Set aside.
- In a large, heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, 1/3 c. whipping cream + enough water to reach the 1/2 c. line on the measuring cup, and corn syrup. Cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Insert the candy thermometer and simmer until the syrup reaches 219 degrees.
- Remove from heat and slowly whisk in the cream mixture. Add the three-quarters of the cubed butter and stir until the cream and butter are fully incorporated. Return the pan to heat and re-insert the candy thermometer. Cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until the temperature reaches 227 degrees.
- Remove from heat and whisk in remaining butter until the butter melts and in incorporated.
- Pour mixture into prepared baking dish. Let set at least two hours or until cool.
- Remove caramels from pan and cut into 1" squares (or smaller). Wrap each caramel in wax paper.
- Sea Level temperatures: 1st boil - 234 degrees, 2nd boil - 248
- In the fall some grocery stores or specialty stores often carry reduced apple cider. It's easier to use that, if you can find it and you're lazy. Otherwise just reduce some good apple cider. It's easy, but time consuming. I made a point of reducing a whole bottle by simmering it for about 15 minutes.
- Do not boil this stuff too long. For me, up in the mountains, it's a matter of a half a degree before I have something too hard to eat.
- Again, I over-spice these bad boys. Some recipes can't handle extra cinnamon or allspice or cloves or nutmeg or whatever. This isn't one of them So don't feel like you need to be precise on those measurements.
- The original recipe required the butter to all be added in before the 2nd boil. I had better luck by saving a bit of butter until the end. By doing so, I essentially quenched the molten sugar mixture so it didn't continue to cook longer than I wished it to. It resulted in caramels that had a slightly oily feel to them, but they get that just from the aluminum foil or parchment paper sprayed with oil anyhow. And it was the only way to save my caramels from getting too hard.