Apple Cider Caramels
These Apple Cider Caramels are soft, sweet, and absolutely full of apple flavor! They’re sprinkled with flaky salt for a perfect sweet treat.
There’s something incredibly satisfying about making your own candy. I always feel way more successful after an awesome batch of caramel or toffee than I do about a great batch of cookies – but the truth is, there’s no need for it to feel like an accomplishment, because it’s really not that hard!
(But you should still totally feel great about making these, because they’re awesome and everyone will love ’em).
As long as you have an accurate candy thermometer, you’re in business. Candy does require a close eye, but only for a few minutes, and it all comes together so quickly that as long as you have all your ingredients put together before you start the recipe, you’ll be golden.
The one time consuming part of this recipe is reducing the cider, which is also easily the most important part. It takes about 45 minutes (in my case, this may vary about 10 minutes in either direction), but doesn’t require a close eye, just a few stirs every once in a while. What you get after reducing for 45 minutes is the ultimate apple-y syrup that tastes ridiculously incredible.
A great apple cider really is key here. You don’t want to use some lame apple juice – you want good, fresh from the apple farm cider. I used a brand called Lattin’s which is made super close to me and is some of the best apple cider I’ve probably ever tasted. If you’re in the Pacific Northwest, I highly recommend trying to get your hands on it. It’s freshly made by hand with no preservatives or sweeteners and literally tastes like biting an apple. Heavenly!
Your caramel is going to taste like a potent version of whatever apple cider you use, so make sure it’s a good one! Scour your grocery’s refrigerated section for some fresh cider, or try and find it at a local farmer’s market. Just make sure it’s delicious!
After you reduce your apple cider, you’re left with a thick syrup, to which you add all the normal caramel ingredients and watch magic happen in just 5 minutes of simmering. Your house will smell like fall in the best way possible, I promise!
After letting your caramel harden up, add just a sprinkle of Maldon flaky sea salt (so, so highly recommended! I get mine from Vitacost). If you don’t have flaky sea salt, use a little less of a coarse sea salt.
These slice up into little squares quite nicely with a super sharp knife or my recommended method, using a pizza cutter! Wrap them in parchment squares, and you have the most adorable little caramels ever. These apple cider caramels are the perfect gift, or the perfect sweet treat to grab when you just need some sugar. They taste like a burst of fall in your mouth, and who doesn’t want that?!
Give ’em a go – I doubt you’ll be disappointed you did! Enjoy!Print
Apple Cider Caramels
- 4 cups apple cider
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 1/2 teaspoons flaky sea salt (such as Maldon, or less of a finer one (plus extra for sprinkling on top))
- 8 tablespoons 1 stick unsalted butter, cut into chunks
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar (packed)
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- Boil the apple cider in a 3-to-4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat until it is reduced to a dark, thick syrup, between 1/3 and 1/2 cup in volume. Stir every 10 minutes or so. This took me about 45 minutes.
- While the cider is reducing, prepare and measure out the rest of your ingredients. Line the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment. Set aside.
- Once you are finished reducing the apple cider, remove it from the heat and stir in the butter, sugars, and heavy cream. Return the pot to medium-high heat with a candy thermometer attached to the side, and let it boil until the thermometer reads 252 degrees, about 5 minutes. Keep a close eye on it to ensure the caramel doesn’t burn.
- If you don’t have a candy or deep- fry thermometer, have a bowl of very cold water ready, and cook the caramel until a tiny spoonful dropped into the water becomes firm, chewy, and able to be plied into a ball.
- Immediately remove caramel from heat once it reaches temperature and add cinnamon and salt. Stir the mixture. Pour caramel into the prepared pan. Let it sit until cool and firm—about 2 hours, or faster in the fridge.
- Once caramel is firm, use the parchment paper to transfer the block to a cutting board. Use a well- oiled knife or pizza cutter to cut the caramel into 1-by-1-inch squares. Wrap each one in a 4-inch square of waxed paper, twisting the sides to close. Caramels will be somewhat on the soft side at room temperature, and chewy/firm from the fridge.
- Caramels keep well in an airtight container at room temperature for two weeks, or in the fridge for a month.
Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen
P.S. I used my Vitacost Refer-A-Friend link above – if you use it, we both get $10 off!
these look incredible, Rachel! regular caramels are great, but with apple cider…!!!! they must be delicious :)
What a creative twist on regular caramels, Rachel! I love the apple cider flavor and how easy these babies are to make. Pinned!
Lol! No lame apple juice for me! Got it. :-) These look AWESOME! It might be hard not to just drizzle the caramel on apples, ice cream, a spoon, you name it! Pinned!
Thanks Lindsey – and omg, this stuff as sauce would be amazing!!
These apple cider caramels are so mouth watering delicious!! I want one right now!! :)
I’ve never made my own candy…because I don’t have a candy thermometer. HOW-EV-ER, I’ll take any reason to go shopping and these caramels are asking to be stuffed into MAH FACE. Pinned!
You can totally make these without the candy thermometer…but I’m a panicker so I like to make sure I don’t mess it up :) you need to try them! Thanks for the pin :)
These look so delicious!! I love caramels in the fall season. I will definitely have to try them out. Also, your blog is so cute! So glad I found it!
Thanks Victoria, so glad you like my blog! :)
Rachel… you totally read my mind with these. I’ve been dreaming about apple cider caramels for the past few weeks. I bought them once at this place in NYC and have been wanting to make them ever since. Just printed your recipe, definitely trying to make them this weekend. And you better believe I’ll be pinning the heck out of this too! :)
Thanks Chris! You should totally try them – they’re super easy and SO good. They taste just like fall should taste :) enjoy!
I want one right now! Yumm, looks delicious! Pinned!
These are totally the best fall flavors if you ask me. :) I’ve never made homemade candy, but these look fantastic. Things that involve candy thermometers always intimidate me a little, but I need to try these! Pinned!
I love making homemade caramels! I wanted to make apple cider ones so bad last year but just never got around to it. These look so good!
Thanks girl! You totally should try them. Cider is soo good right now with apple season in full swing – it’s the perfect time :)
I love caramels, but these apple cider caramels look so much better! Love that you used it in these and the sea salt is the perfect touch.
Yum, I need to try these! Apple Cider is one of my favorites during this time of the year!
I am dying to try this recipe! And this is just the perfect time of year for it. Next time I’m at our local orchard I’ll definitely be picking up a quart of cider so I can give these a try ;)
These are beautiful and I’m sure taste amazing! I have a couple quarts of cider that are begging to be made into caramels! :)
I love caramel. Eating a dozen of these at once is ok, right? ;)
YES! Can’t say that wasn’t done :)
I love making candy too, except I have tried making toffee three times and it has never come out well! These apple cider toffees are such a great idea and I bet they taste awesome!
I want to try these! I’m going to have to do some research on where to find cider…..
I’ve never made my own caramels but these would be the first ones I start with. Apple cider sounds like the best flavor ever for caramel candy! They look amazing and I would totally not be able to stop snacking on them – pinning!
Fun! What an amazing idea. The flavor is phenomenal, I’m sure.
Have a wonderful Wednesday!
Thanks for the pin, Melanie! Happy Wednesday!
These look so fun! I love the photo’s here (as usual!) – there are so many! Caramel is one of the greatest gifts of fall! (not that you can’t go crazy on it at any other time of the year, but you know…) <3
These pictures are so gorgeous!! Every single stinkin’ one! :) Sounds awesome as well, of course!
Wow! These homemade caramels look fantastic, I can’t wait to give these a try :)
I am super into apple cider caramels! I love that you used a fresh, local cider–I’ll bet they tasted amazing!
Thanks Elizabeth – it definitely took them to the next level :)
I’ve never seen fresh cider in a store in Australia but I’ve seen lots of alcoholic cider. :)
Would apple juice work?
Hi Maureen, I’m not sure since I haven’t tried it, but I would try to get as fresh of an apple juice as possible rather than a from concentrate version and you should be ok!
Oooh I need to give these a try!! Sounds perfect for fall :)
They looks so good I can’t wait to make them. Just wondering what type or brand of apple cider did you use? I’m in Australia so I want to make sure that our apple cider is the same as you apple cider. Thanks..:)
Hi Joe. I used a local brand so you likely won’t be able to find that brand. I would just use the highest quality pure apple cider you can find for the best results!
Sorry I just re-read your post and I see you have added the brand for apple cider. I will try and find something similiar. Thanks