Wow! It sure has been a whirlwind of a year for me. Where did the time go? I’m sure I’ll be saying the same thing again this time next year!
With the year drawing to a close and festivities commencing, I tend to make gifts for friends and those who’ve helped me throughout the year. Baking/making gifts has always been a pleasure of mine. I love the sheer joy it brings to those when they receive something that they know you have made.
I had set out to make batches of soft, chewy caramels. As much as I love salted caramel, I could’ve gone and made some, but that would’ve been predictable so I decided to be different and made various flavours instead.
First up were the apple cinnamon caramels. I saw the recipe on Not So Humble Pie which was actually for spiced apple cider caramels. You see, Americans are funny when it comes to naming things. What is meant by apple cider in this instance is basically unfiltered apple juice; soft cider refers to the non-alcoholic version whilst hard cider is the alcoholic version, just to confuse us all. The original recipe incorporated cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, allspice berries and citrus peel to be infused into the apple juice as it reduces, but I kept it simple with cinnamon. Because apple and cinnamon.. Match made in heaven.
I had some black sesame seeds left over and thought to add them after being inspired by a multitude of caramel flavours that I saw on Etsy; think matcha, coffee, pumpkin pie, French lavender etc.
This process is fairly time-consuming but you can’t rush candy making. Cooking the caramel on a gentler heat provides more control it and minimises those nasty incidents of splattering caramel and unwanted burns. Then there’s the waiting around for the caramel to cool before you cut and wrap them up. But trust me, it’s all worth it!
Thankfully these caramels weren’t too sweet as well. I found the apple cinnamon caramels to be much softer than the black sesame ones. I did add more sesame seeds than the amount I had written in the recipe, so that might play a role in causing the caramel to firm up a bit more. Let me just say, the aroma of the black sesame caramels was incredible!
Unfortunately, the apple flavour didn’t come out that strong, but that was always going to be the case if it’s going to be au naturale and without any extract or artificial flavouring. It might be worth reducing a larger volume of apple juice to try intensify the flavour.
So there we have it, if I don’t get a chance to blog before the end of the year. I wish you all a Merry Christmas and fantastic New Year!
Apple cinnamon caramels
Recipe slightly adapted from Not So Humble Pie
Makes roughly 80 2.5cm square or 140 1x4cm caramels
2 cups cloudy apple juice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 cups white sugar
1 cup (310g) corn syrup/liquid glucose
1 1/2 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons (60g) unsalted butter
- Combine the apple juice and cinnamon in a large sauce pan over medium heat and allow to simmer for roughly 30 minutes. Once the liquid has reduced to a 1/2 cup, set the apple syrup aside.
- Prepare a 9 x 9 pan by lining it with foil and lightly greasing it.
- In a large sauce pan combine sugar, corn syrup, salt and 1 cup of the heavy cream. Place over medium heat and stir frequently with a silicon spatula or wooden spoon, bring the mixture to a boil.
- Once the mixture boils add the remaining half cup of cream and the apple syrup in a slow trickle so your caramel mixture continues to boil uninterrupted.
- Allow the mixture to boil for 5 minutes without stirring. Then add the butter, one tablespoon at a time, stirring after each piece melts.
- Turn the heat to low-medium/medium and clip on your candy thermometer.
- Heat until the mixture just hits 255°F/125°C. (This should take about 30 minutes).
- Once you’ve hit the right temperature, quickly remove the pot from the heat and pour into your prepared pan.
- Allow the caramel to cool completely before lifting the caramel slab from the pan.
- Cut the caramel slab into small pieces using a sharp buttered knife (cutting in a rocking motion as you press down on the slab).
- Wrap each piece in a square of grease-proof paper.
- Store in an air tight container for up to 2 weeks (that’s if they last that long!).
Variation: Toasted black sesame caramels
Exclude the apple juice and cinnamon. Need 2 tbsp of black sesame seeds, toasted.
- Toast 2 tbsp of black sesame seeds in a small frypan until fragrant. Set aside
- Continue with step 2-7 of recipe above.
- Once the caramel reaches the right temperature, add the toasted sesame seeds and stir.
- Quickly remove the pot from the heat and pour into prepared tin.
- Follow steps 9 and onwards.