TBP – Do you remember the Caramello Koala ads? “They call me mellow yellllowwww”. Basically this is the adults version (and it’s BYO chocolate).
Perth people have broken ‘winter’ sensors. We don’t even have a real winter, as I learned after an Italian autumn, more like three months where it’s slightly less hot and rains occasionally. By the end of February we are excitedly eyeing off our scarves in anticipation every time the temperatures dips below 30. When it gets to 25 it’s long pants and jumpers. This leads to some confusion when it comes to food – if you don’t live in even vaguely the right climate for apple trees, can cider still be one of those things that makes you think winter is on it’s way? Given I made these at Christmas (granted, another site of blatant food/weather confusion) I have to say, not so much. They are absolutely delicious though, tangy and complex, and I eat them by a pool or a fireplace as weather permits.
The recipe comes from Sugarpunk, a blog I read from start to finish during Corporations Law lectures last year (sorry Mum). The author ran her own business by using a professional kitchen in the wee hours when it was empty, making cakes, chocolates and caramels. Quite an inspiration. Much more so than Corporations law, sadly. So rather than repeating everything she has to say, if you want to be really thorough, have a read of Sugarpunk’s post first. Baking and confectionary are the only things I really use recipes for and I like a lot of information, but if you find too much information overwhelming then just stick with this.
Because there are only a few ingredients in this and you (try to) only eat a small piece at a time, using high quality ingredients makes a noticeably high quality product. But, even if you supermarket cream and black and gold butter, you’ll still get something worth eating. At the moment I favour Three Oaks cider (although I’ve used Bulmer’s when I’m feeling skint and it’s fine), Bannister Downs cream, and whatever ludicrous butter is on special at Fresh Provisions. Corn syrup, on the other hand, is always trashy. It’s the most absurdly American thing you can find in an Australian supermarket. I challenge you to name even one recipe using corn syrup that doesn’t give you an instant fear of diabetes when you read it (sorry).
Apple Cider Caramels
2c Apple Cider
2/3 c of cream
85g unsalted butter (by the way, I love that a butter converter exists. so useful.)
1 ½ c sugar
¼ c corn syrup
¼ c water
Reduce the cider down to ⅓ c and put aside. You can ignore it to start with, but keep a close eye on it towards the end because it’s easy to overshoot the mark.
Heat the cream and butter to boiling point in a saucepan and put aside to infuse with the cinnamon, if you like. I think I prefer them without.
Place the sugar, corn syrup and water in a moderately large saucepan, maybe the next size down from your soup or pasta pot. When you add the cream the mix will triple or quadruple briefly as it boils and you don’t want the pot to overflow, but nor do you want to be struggling to comfortably reach the mixture with your thermometer when it settles down. Cook the mixture until it reaches a ‘light brown’ or ‘amber’ colour.
For reference, what you don’t want is this. It took about three minutes for this mix to go from just starting to bubble to almost black, which is incidentally how long I spent watching Louis Theroux documentaries over TBP’s shoulder. Keep it over a low heat and keep an eye on it.
When the syrup is nearly there, bring the cream and butter back to the boil. Pour it (carefully, from a safe distance) into the syrup, and add the reduced cider. When it’s safe, start stirring. Cook it to 121 degrees celsius.
Pour into a pan lined with baking paper (as Sugarpunk says, if you use two pieces, one going each way it will be easier to remove later) and chill in the fridge. I haven’t found that covering the pan with gladwrap makes much of a difference in our climate. If you want to cut them into sticks or batons, use a square 20cm pan. If you prefer thicker squares, use a loaf pan.
The caramels will technically last in the fridge until the expiry date of the cream. I don’t think this has ever happened. It is virtually impossible to only eat one. TBP keeps hers in the freezer to make her pace herself. You have been warned.
(lovely pictures of the finished product will be up shortly)