I know you are probably up to your ears in left over Halloween candy, and the last thing you want to think about is making your own candy….but I promise you, these are worth it! This recipe has been circulating the internet for over a year, and despite coming from THE Smitten Kitchen, I was still a bit hesitant as to whether these would actually taste like apple cider. Well my friends, I can attest to ahhhmazingness of these caramels. Somehow, magically, they do indeed taste like apple cider. (Or maybe not so magically….you do use an entire quart of the stuff and boil it down to a mere 1/3 cup to infuse the caramel with cider flavor).
I actually had made these for our pumpkin carving party, but because of the unpredictable nature of intern year (and medicine in general), I was 2 hours late to my own party…. so instead, I have been enjoying these myself for the past 2 weeks. (Good thing I’m not the dentist in the family…) I also insist that everyone who comes to our house tries at least one – and the response is always the same….”ahhhhmazing.” So before cider is gone until next fall, make these. You won’t regret it.
Apple Cider Caramels
Makes 64 caramels
- 4 cups apple cider
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons flaky sea salt, such as Maldon, or less of a finer one
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
Boil the apple cider in a 3- to- 4- quart saucepan over high heat until it is reduced to a dark, thick syrup, between 1/3 and 1/2 cup in volume, stirring occasionally. This took about 1 hour on my stove.
Line the bottom and sides of an 8- inch straight- sided square metal baking pan with 2 long sheets of crisscrossed parchment, then butter. Set it aside. Stir the cinnamon and flaky salt together in a small dish.
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. Do not take your eyes off it as it burns quickly.
Immediately remove caramel from heat, add the cinnamon- salt mixture, and give the caramel several stirs to distribute it evenly. Pour caramel into the prepared pan. Let it sit until cool and firm—about 2 hours, though it goes faster in the fridge. Once caramel is firm, use your parchment paper sling to transfer the block to a cutting board. Use a well- oiled or buttered knife to cut the caramel into 1-by-1-inch squares. Sprinkle with additional flaky sea salt if desired. Wrap each one in a 4-inch square of parchment or 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, in an airtight container at room temperature.
Source: Smitten Kitchen
Sometimes I take for granted that certain things are not common knowledge. Now I’m not talking about fancy medical terms, chemistry or physics here, I’m just talking about day-to-day life stuff that you can’t actually put a finger on when, or how you learned it – you just know it and therefore assume that others must too. Well turtle sundaes were an example of such knowledge. I mean I literally have no idea when I discovered a turtle sundae, but I definetely just assumed it was common knowledge that they consist of pecans, hot fudge and caramel. Well let me tell you folks, this is not the case.
The first time I suggested that John get a turtle sundae – he didn’t know what it was! Blasphemy! After he ordered it and thought it was amazing, he was shocked to discover that almost every major ice cream shop in America makes some type of turtle sundae! How did he go so long without discovering this? Well I’m guessing it’s because he only recently started frequenting ice cream shops on a regular basis (perhaps because his wife has an unhealthy obsession with ice cream.) Imagine that :-).
When I was trying to figure out what type of birthday cake I wanted to make for John’s brother, the only request I got was “cheesecake”. Well the list of cheesecake possibilities was quite overwhelming, but I decided on this one because I was hoping that the love of turtle sundaes would run in the family. I was really looking for something that incorporated all parts of the turtle sundae into the cheesecake (not just as toppings), and I couldn’t really find one, so instead I put together a few of the things I liked best about different recipes. The results were well worth it. The crust is to-die-for and I think it would probably work well in a variety of recipes. After eating a slice of this, my sister-in-law who is from Turkey exclaimed that cheesecake may be America’s greatest invention :-). Be fairly warned, it is really hard to eat more than a sliver of this because it’s quite rich, but if you find yourself with leftovers, I think this would freeze wonderfully.
P.S. Sorry I’ve been MIA from the blog lately. Surgery clerkship has gotten the best of me. It’s true what they say – you really do work 14 hour days, but for the most part I’ve really been enjoying it. Future surgeon? We shall see….
- Make 1- 9 inch round
For the Crust:
- 1 ¼ cups graham cracker crumbs
- 2/3 cup finely ground pecans
- 3 T. packed brown sugar
- 6 T. melted butter
For the Filling:
- 4 packages (8 oz each) cream cheese, softened (I used 2 regular, 2- 1/3 less fat)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/4 cup PLUS 1 teaspoon flour, divided
- 2 T. heavy whipping cream
- 1- ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- 4 eggs, lightly beaten
- ½ cup milk chocolate chips, melted and cooled
- 1/3 cup ice cream caramel sauce (Will be posting a homemade and easy recipe soon)
- 1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans
For the Topping:
- 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
- 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream PLUS 1-2 tablespoons depending on preference
- Pecan halves and additional caramel topping for garnish
To Make the Crust:
- Pre heat oven to 400 F. Wrap 9-inch spring foam pan with heavy duty foil or parchment-foil paper (this is all I had and it worked wonderfully). Be sure to wrap both sides of the pan because you don’t want any water seeping through the cracks when you bake it in a water bath.
- Mix all crust ingredients until combined. Press into 9 inch pan, pressing firmly and evenly. Bake at 400° for 15-18 minutes. Let cool completely before filling.
To Make the Filling:
- In a large bowl beat cream cheese and sugars until well combined. Then beat in 1/4 cup of flour, vanilla, and eggs until well combined.
- Remove a heaping cup of cream cheese mixture and combine with melted chocolate. Pour mixture over cooled crust.
- Combine pecans, caramel sauce and flour (not pictured here because I forgot it, but add it to stop caramel from leaking). Drop pecan mixture over chocolate layer.
- Pour remaining plain cream cheese mixture over top and spread evenly. Place spring foam pan in a large, deep pan and add about 1 inch of water to larger pan to create a water bath.
- TURN OVEN DOWN to 325º and bake for about 1 hour 20 minutes, or until the top appears dull. Carefully remove springfoam pan from water bath, and cool for 10 minutes. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
To Make the Topping
- Place chocolate chips in a heat-proof measuring cup. Bring cream to a boil over medium heat. Pour hot cream over chocolate chips and stir to combine. Pour ganache over cooled cheesecake and spread evenly. *NOTE: if you would like the ganache to drip down the sides, like the effect in this cake, add another tablespoon or 2 of cream to the mixture and make sure it is still very warm when you pour it over the cake.
- Top ganache with pecans, and drizzle caramel sauce before serving.
Inspired by Taste of Home