Halloween just doesn’t seem like much fun when you’re 8 months pregnant; which is why if you look around my house you’ll notice a lack in festive decorations. I guess with a baby due in December my mind wants to rush past all these upcoming holidays and get straight to her due date. But typical me, at the very last minute the festive spirit kicked in and I decided to throw together a costume and some Halloween goodies.
We attend our family friend’s almost every year for their annual Halloween Open House and I wasn’t about to show up empty handed. If you haven’t heard – my pregnancy craving almost the entire pregnancy has been apples. I literally cannot eat enough of them and luckily they are so ridiculous in season that they practically grow on trees – wait, ugh. (A little Halloween trickery for you…)
I couldn’t quite wrap my mind around what I wanted to make, but I knew it had to include apples and it had to be a last minute thing. I’m sure you are wondering why I went with caramels … every recipe, blog and website I read regarding caramels started off the same way “no need to fear candy making – it’s a lot easier than you think!” I’m sorry but there’s another Halloween trick right there. Candy making is not easy. The problem is you never know if you did it right until the very end, once the candy has hardened – if it does at all; and it’s usually a gooey mess whether you get it right or not. I don’t want to scare you out of attempting candy making (another little Halloween humor), it’s really not that bad. The trick is timing, exact measurements and a good candy thermometer. I highly recommend giving it a go, and just know that if you figure out the trick it’s definitely worth the treat. Happy Halloween!
Apple Cider Caramels
Slightly Adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
Makes about 40 Caramels
4 Cups of Organic Apple Cider
½ teaspoon of Ground Cinnamon
2 teaspoons of Fluer de Sel
½ Cup of Unsalted Butter, cubed
1 Cup of Granulated Sugar
½ Cup of Brown Sugar, packed
⅓ Cup of Organic Heavy Whipping Cream
In a medium saucepan over a high flame, bring the apple cider to a boil. While stirring occasionally, let the cider reduce until it’s the consistency of syrup and about ⅓ cup in volume. This usually takes about 45 minutes, be patient, the last few minutes are when it really begins to thicken.
While the cider is reducing, line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper making sure to leave an overhang for easy removing. Combine the fleur del sel and the cinnamon in a small prep bowl and set aside. I also like to have the sugars and heavy cream premeasured and ready to go, with candy making time is of the essence.
Once the cider has finished reducing, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and heavy cream. Once the butter has completely melted and the sugars have completely dissolved, clip a candy thermometer to the pan and return it to a medium to high flame. Let the candy boil, undisturbed, until the thermometer reads 252°F. Keep a close eye on this, it only takes about 5 minutes and this is the most crucial stage of candy making.
Once the thermometer reads 252°F, immediately remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cinnamon and salt mixture. Make sure the mixture has completely dissolved or you will end up with salty patches in your caramel.
Pour the caramel into the baking pan and let it sit to firm up, at least 2 hours.
Once the caramel is firm, use the parchment overhangs to lift it out and transfer it to a clean sheet of wax paper. Using a greased pizza cutter, slice the caramels into 1-inch by ½-inch pieces. (Just guestimate.) Individually wrap each caramel into a 4-inch square of wax paper and twist each side close.
Let the caramels sit in their wrappers for a little bit before enjoying. After being handled with all the cutting and wrapping they begin to soften but letting them sit will harden them up a bit more. Enjoy!
*I created these little festive treat bags with extra kraft goodie bags I had laying around. I purchased them on Etsy (found here), simply created a template with “Boo!”, “Aah!” and “Eek!” and ran them through my printer. Also, pop on over to my Etsy shop, Bee Paperie, where I’m in the process of adding some great festive items such as these!