APPLE PIE CARAMELS
and a pumpkin carving adventure
This past weekend, the Halloween spirit got into us. On a whim, Bowl #2 brought home a gigantic pumpkin and dug out his woodworking tools.
His splendid Batman inspired me to make a Halloween-y treat to go with it.
These caramels are only lightly adapted from the Smitten Kitchen recipe. Made from apple cider and creme fraiche, they taste just like apple pie in gooey bite-sized form. They don't have quite the rich, deep butterscotch-y warmth that plain caramels do - instead, the tart tang from the apple and creme fraiche adds a welcome liveliness. If regular caramels are like sitting in front of the fireplace on a winter evening, swaddled in blankets, these apple cider ones are the joy of kicking up leaves in the fading dusk of a fall day, with just a hint of chill but a flush in your cheek.
what you'll need
4 cups (945ml) apple cider 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon 2 tsp flaky salt, plus more for sprinkling 1 stick (1/2 cup or 115g) unsalted butter, cut into chunks 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar 1/2 cup (110g) packed light brown sugar 1/3 cup (80ml) crème fraîche neutral oil for the knife
Boil the apple cider in a large pot over high heat until it reduces to a dark, thick syrup, between 1/3 and 1/2 cup in volume. It should take about 35 to 40 minutes, and by the end, bubbles will begin to turn shiny, viscous, and pop more slowly. While the apple cider is reducing, line the bottom and sides of an 8- inch straight- sided square metal baking pan with 2 long sheets of crisscrossed parchment. Set aside. Stir the cinnamon and flaky salt together in a small dish, and have the butter, sugars, and creme fraiche measured out and ready to go.
When the apple cider has reduced, remove it from the heat and stir in the butter, sugars, and creme fraiche, just until dissolved. 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, only about 5 minutes. Keep a close eye on it.
If you don't have a thermometer, prepare a bowl of very cold water while the caramel is boiling. Cook the caramel until a spoonful dropped into the water becomes firm, chewy, and able to be plied into a ball. You may want to cook the caramel at a lower heat for a little longer, to give yourself time to test the caramel before taking it off the heat.
When the caramel is at the right temperature or consistency, immediately remove it from heat, add the cinnamon-salt mixture, and give the caramel several stirs to distribute it evenly. Pour the caramel into the prepared pan. Let it sit at room temperature or in the fridge until cool and firm. At room temperature, it will take about two hours; in the fridge, one should do it.
Once caramel is firm, use the parchment paper to transfer the block to a cutting board. Use a well-oiled knife or a pizza wheel, oiling it after each cut, to cut the caramel into 1-by-1-inch squares. It will slice better when cold. Optionally, sprinkle each square with a bit of flaky salt. Wrap each one in a roughly 3x4-inch piece of waxed or parchment paper, twisting the sides to close.
pumpkin: the talented b2 original recipe: smitten kitchen http://tworedbowls.com thank you so much for reading, and happy hallo-week!