Homemade candy is easy to make with this recipe for Apple Cider Caramels with Ginger! This small batch of buttery caramels are full of apple cider flavor and garnished with crystallized ginger. The caramel candies are perfect to gift at the holidays, or keep all for yourself!
Homemade Apple Cider Caramel Candies
Even though the holidays have passed, I’m still going to consume apple cider. And probably lots of it. And rather than drink a cozy hot cup of it, I’m going crazy and putting it in some caramel candies. Sounds logical.
It is after all a new year, with a new attitude, and a few ‘goals’, that I may or may not accomplish. And I’m going to need a little candy along the way.
This recipe for Apple Cider Caramels is another first for me. Watching how bakers on tv sometimes struggle with making caramel made me shy away. But I’m here to tell you, it is really pretty easy. And that is fantastic news for me, because I may need a few more batches of candy to get me through the year.
Small Batch of Caramels
A small batch of caramel candy is perfect portion control. Ok – so maybe it is still ‘bad’ to eat all of the candies by myself. At least their homemade.
By the way – homemade caramel is the best.
- It is easy to make
- Butter and sugar is never a bad thing (in moderation, of course).
- Add flavors to it – like apple cider and ginger!
- You can give it as a gift – literally, how sweet is that!
- Making caramel doesn’t have to be scary anymore.
Apple Cider Caramels with Ginger
Let’s talk about the flavor of these caramel candies. As the title suggests, you will taste apple cider and ginger.
Apple cider – Not apple juice. Apple cider is *usually* found in the produce section and it will have a ‘murky’ appearance. Doesn’t sound appetizing – but it will look like the apple pulp has separated to the bottom. Apple juice filters out all the apple goodness.
Ginger – Crystallized ginger is a great addition to this recipe. We are only using it as a topping, and it provides a spicy sweet bite to the luscious buttery caramel.
You may have noticed I have referenced ‘buttery’ caramel. And that is what I think a good caramel should be. You don’t actually taste butter. Rather a silky and creamy texture that makes these caramels divine.
Tips For Making Apple Cider Caramels with Ginger
- Use apple cider vs. apple juice – Cider keeps all the apple pulp in it – which is where the flavor is.
- Brown sugar vs. granulated sugar – I prefer brown sugar for the flavor.
- Use a good saucepan – Cooking sugar gets really, really hot. And we want a good saucepan to cook it evenly, and not get destroyed in the process. I use All-Clad, which can be expensive. Otherwise, look for one that says something like ‘heavy-bottom’.
- Reduce the apple cider – Reducing the cider makes the flavor much more robust.
- Add a cinnamon stick – Reducing the cider with a cinnamon stick adds another layer of flavor. Optional, but I do recommend it. Especially around the holidays!
- Watch the sugar/caramel cook – You need to keep an eye on the thermometer.
- Use a candy/digital thermometer– I honestly don’t know how to make caramel without it. When sugar reaches a certain temperature, it is prime and ready to go to make candy. And we need to know when it is at that temperature! I am sure there are old-school methods for testing when it is ready. But, let’s use the new school method of a thermometer. Wink.
- Use a small cake pan/vessel to cool and set the caramel – Because this is a small batch, we want to use a small vessel. Otherwise the caramels will be too thin. I used a 6×6 inch cake pan.
- Cool the caramel at room temperature – It will sit on the counter for a while for the caramel to cool. After that, you can put it in the fridge to chill up – which also makes it easier (less sticky) to cut!
Oh, and Happy New Year! I’m pretty excited for 2021 – or is it that I’m excited 2020 is over?!
More Caramel Recipes
- Cinnamon Caramel Nut Crumble Bars
- Maple Syrup Caramel Sauce
- Soft Apple Cookies With Caramel Icing
- Caramel Apple Sweet Rolls
Apple Cider Caramels with Ginger
- 1 – 6-Inch Square Cake Pan (or) 9×5-Inch Loaf Pan
- 1 cup apple cider (heated and reduced to approx. 3 tablespoons)
- 1 small cinnamon stick (optional)
- 3/4 cup light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons heavy cream
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Crystalized Ginger, finely chopped (optional)
- Line the cake pan (or loaf pan) with two pieces of parchment, long enough hang over all sides of the pan. Lightly grease the parchment in the pan – either with softened butter or cooking spray.
- Use a heavy bottom saucepan – In a medium saucepan, heat the apple cider and cinnamon stick (if using) over medium heat until it reduces to approximately 3 tablespoons. This may take 15 – 20 minutes.
- Once the apple cider has reduced, add the brown sugar, butter, cream, and salt to the saucepan. Stir until combined. Use a candy or digital thermometer – Cook the caramel over medium heat until the sugar reaches 235F – 240F degrees.
- The caramel will be hot! Carefully pour the caramel into the prepared pan. Let the caramel cool at room temperature, and once it has cooled, sprinkle the ginger on top. Transfer to the refrigerator to set even more, and until ready to serve/cut/wrap. I recommend storing the caramels in the refrigerator.
- To serve/cut/wrap – gently remove the caramel from the pan using the parchment paper slings. If any caramel ran behind the parchment paper in the pan, use a knife or offset spatula to loosen it from the pan. Cut the caramels into desired shapes and sizes. Optional – wrap individual pieces in small strips of parchment or waxed paper.
- Using the cinnamon stick when reducing the apple cider is completely optional. It does add a nice spice to the cider.
- I prefer to use brown sugar when making caramel – it has a more robust flavor. However, you can use granulated sugar 1:1 if you prefer.
- This is the digital thermometer I use.
- You can use any pan/cake pan you prefer to cool and set the caramel in. Since it is a smaller batch, it should be a smaller pan though so the caramels are not too thin.
- The Chill Time is an estimate – the caramel should be cooled at room temperature, then chilled in the refrigerator until ready to serve.