Apple Cider Caramels Recipe

Apple cider caramels. Spectacularly impressive in taste. Surprisingly easy to make. Just boiled cider or apple juice, sugar, and spice. Trust us when we say they turn out INCREDIBLY nice. The hardest thing about them is being modest when you’re effusively thanked for making them.

Apple Cider Caramels Recipe

These apple cider caramels are incredibly rich, superlatively smooth, and essentially just boiled cider or apple juice and sugar that’s subtly spiced with cinnamon, star anise, and cloves. They’re surprisingly easy to make. And even easier to say “you’re welcome” when friends and family effusively thank you for gifting these caramels.Angie Zoobkoff

How To Use Reduced Apple Cider In Other Ways

The astoundingly flavorful trick of boiled cider or apple juice that’s reduced down to concentrate the flavors results in equally spectacular syrup for drizzling over pancakes or waffles when you stop reducing the syrup after it reaches 6 to 7 ounces.

Special Equipment: A candy thermometer or instant-read thermometer

Apple Cider Caramels Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 25 M
  • 4 H
  • Makes about 36 caramels

Ingredients

  • 1 quart (946 ml) cloudy unpasteurized apple juice, apple cider, or freshly squeezed and filtered apple juice*
  • 1 cinnamon stick, or more to taste
  • 1 to 2 star anise, or more to taste
  • 2 whole cloves, or more to taste
  • 5 tablespoons (2 1/2 ounces or 71 grams) unsalted butter, diced, plus more for the pan
  • 3/4 cup (160 grams) light brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup (135 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (114 grams) crème fraîche (do not substitute sour cream)
  • Pinch fine sea salt, plus more for sprinkling

Directions

  • 1. Butter an 8- or 9-inch (20- to 23-cm) square baking pan, line it with parchment paper, and then lightly butter the parchment paper.
  • 2. Pour the apple juice into a large saucepan, add the cinnamon stick, star anise, and cloves, and bring to a boil. Cook steadily over low to medium heat until the juice has reduced to 4 1/2 ounces (128 grams) of honey-colored syrup. Be certain to measure the syrup by weight rather than volume to ensure accuracy. Remove the spices with a slotted spoon before weighing the syrup to get an accurate measure. The reducing of the syrup could take an hour or more depending on the size of your pan and the exact heat. It can be difficult to guess when it’s at the right weight, so occasionally strain the syrup into a measuring cup on the scale and, if needed, return the syrup and strained spices to the pot and continue to reduce. Keep a careful watch on the syrup towards the end of the reducing.
  • 3. Pour the syrup into a clean 2-quart (1.9 liter) saucepan and add the butter, both sugars, and the crème fraîche. Place the pan over low heat and stir frequently until the butter melts and the sugar dissolves. Add the thermometer to the pan, bring to a boil, and cook at a steady, even pace, stirring from time to time, until the syrup reaches 260ºF (127°C), 20 to 30 minutes. (The syrup may hover around 220°F for a while but it will eventually shoot up to 260°F.) Do not be tempted to increase the heat under the pan to hasten the process or you’ll scorch the syrup and your caramels will have a lingering burnt taste.
  • 4. Slide the pan off the heat, remove the thermometer, add the sea salt, and stir to combine with a rubber spatula. Immediately pour the syrup into the prepared pan and let it cool to room temperature, about 2 hours.
  • 5. Using a lightly buttered sharp knife, cut the caramel into bite-size squares. If desired, add a tiny pinch of sea salt to each caramel. Place each caramel on a square or rectangle of waxed paper or parchment paper and twist the ends. Place in a resealable plastic bag and stash in the fridge for up to 1 week.

*How To Make Your Own Apple Juice

  • It’s not necessary to make your own apple juice for these caramels, although if you have a juicer and want to give it a twirl, you can simply press apples through your juicer and then filter the liquid through coffee filter papers. It’s that simple.
Hungry for more? Chow down on these:

Hey, there. Just a reminder that all our content is copyright protected. Like a photo? Please don't use it without our written permission. Like a recipe? Kindly contact the publisher listed above for permission before you post it (that's what we did) and rewrite it in your own words. That's the law, kids. And don't forget to link back to this page, where you found it. Thanks!

Recipe Testers Reviews

Recipe Testers Reviews
Testers Choice
Sandy Owen

Nov 26, 2016

These apple cider caramels are absolutely delicious!!! A HUGE hit with the family!!!! They’re firm yet soft and chewy with a zip of apple taste in a chewy caramel bite. Perfect. I used unpasteurized organic apple juice and it took well over an hour for it to reduce down to 4 1/2 ounces. The simmering juice filled the house with a wonderful spicy smell of fall. I added the sugars and butter once it finally reduced down. I did weigh it since I really couldn't tell how much I had. Seems right at the end, the reduction goes very quickly....so keep an eye on it. Once the sugar and butter melted, I cranked up the heat to a boil. It took a good 25 to 30 minutes for it to finally come to 260°F. It was frothy and bubbly and looked very good. I let it cool a few hours on the counter. Once it was room temperature, I popped the pan of caramel in the fridge for about 20 minutes and then cut it into bite-size squares.

Testers Choice
Hillary Hawkins

Nov 26, 2016

The perfect caramel, in my opinion, is one that is a bit dense but doesn't have that stick-to-your-teeth tackiness that makes you feel like you’re going to lose a filling. This apple cider caramels recipe comes pretty darn close to perfect. The spices add a little something extra to make it special and the crème fraîche really helps make it smooth and rich. I will say to be careful when reducing the cider. Mine went a little far so I added some honey to make up for the lesser amount of cider syrup. It came out perfectly—just with a little less apple flavor. It only took about 10 minutes on the stove to make the caramel. Very quick and easy. I forgot to stir in the sea salt so I just sprinkled it on top and it worked great.

Testers Choice
Angie Z.

Nov 26, 2016

These lovely apple caramels are sweet and nicely spiced with a pleasant tang to them thanks to the addition of creme fraiche. They’ll be a welcome addition to my Christmas gift baskets this year. I cut my square sheet of caramels into 6 rows and 6 columns.

Testers Choice
Paula D.

Nov 26, 2016

Oh these apple cider caramels are so, so special! The apple reduction gives them a rich and delightful flavor. I used Honey Crisp apple juice and 1 star anise. The consistency was smooth and not too sticky. Perfect. After an hour in the fridge, I cut them into 42 pieces and wrapped them in 4 1/4-inch cello squares. I'm so happy to have these little lovelies for the dessert table this Thanksgiving! They'll be the star of the show!

Testers Choice
Johnisha L.

Nov 26, 2016

These apple cider caramels are like confectionary gold. The apple juice gives them a pleasant tartness so they’re not cloyingly sweet like some caramels. You have to set aside an hour for the apple juice to reduce but it’s well worth the investment of time. Your house will smell better than potpourri when you’re finished and you can use the time to complete some other tasks in the kitchen. The rest of the recipe is a breeze. These caramels set up very nicely, too—just the right texture in terms of being chewy and melt-in-your-mouth but hard enough to cut without challenges. I enjoyed adding a flake of Maldon sea salt to the top before eating—the surface was still sticky enough to hold it even after they cooled. I used a nice unpasteurized juice from Whole Foods Market. I'm not sure that I could really taste the added spices in the finished caramels, however. They keep very well for a few days and I've also gotten a lot of great feedback from co-workers—a few people even told me that they don't typically like caramels, but they love these.

Have something to say?

Then tell us. Have a picture you'd like to add to your comment? Send it along. Covet one of those spiffy pictures of yourself to go along with your comment? Get a free Gravatar. And as always, please take a gander at our comment policy before posting.

*

Daily Subscription

Enter your email address and get all of our updates sent to your inbox the moment they're posted. Be the first on your block to be in the know.

Preview daily e-mail

Weekly Subscription

Hate tons of emails? Do you prefer info delivered in a neat, easy-to-digest (pun intended) form? Then enter your email address for our weekly newsletter.

Preview weekly e-mail