For the past two days, the cooks of the family (shout out to mom, dad, and grandma) and I have slaved over the best brine, the perfect marshmallow shape for the sweet potato bake, the ideal type of bird (free range or organic?? what’s the difference and WHY is it so much more expensive?!?!), and the right flavor of pie to bake. All the days of preparation resulted in a 10 minute period, tops, where 25 people inhaled food, each murmuring their own chorus of “mmmmms” and “wow”, muffled by the massive scoop of oyster andouille stuffing they just shoveled in.
Thanksgiving is over, and most of us if we’re being honest packed on at least a pound or two. The obligatory “cleanse” of salads, quinoa, goji berries, acai (does anyone actually know how to pronounce any of those??) begins. And while you’re triumphantly munching on sprouted sunflower shoots and organic skinless chicken breasts, I’m going to introduce you to a little treat along the way.
These are, by a mile, the most perfect candies I’ve ever come across. You pop a golden square shimmering with fleur de sel into your mouth, and it melts into an addicting pool of syrupy apple cider that pops agains the flecks of salt.
When your morale reaches an all time low from trying to subside on rabbit food until the next holiday binge, grab one of these babies, delicately wrapped in wax paper to get you through the day. Shall we?
Start off by boiling apple cider over high heat for about 30 minutes, or until reduced to a thick syrup. While that’s boiling line your dish with parchment and cut squares of wax paper.
Let bubble away until the candy reaches a temperature of 250, and be careful, this sticky liquid would cause horrible burns if you got it on your skin.
When the candy reaches 250, remove it from the heat, stir in a bit of cinnamon and sea salt, and pour on to your wax paper. Sprinkle with a little more salt, but don’t get crazy.
Chop into little squares using an oiled knife, and wrap in wax paper. Note, my candies are a little thinner than they should be since I didn’t have a 8×8 pan. If you don’t either, no worries, just make them thicker or thinner depending on the size pan you have.
So, there you go! The easiest recipe for the most insane candies you’ll ever try. These are the brain child of the genius behind Smitten Kitchen, Deb Perelman, and they’re part of her cookbook which I’m dying to get.
The cool thing is, these can be made even if you don’t have a candy thermometer, and they make the perfect gift for just about anyone. Happy holidays and cheers (with a green smoothie)!
Salted Apple Cider Caramels (makes 64 1×1 squares) recipe from here
- 4 cups apple cider (from the refrigerated section)
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 t ground cinnamon
- 1 t fleur de sel or other flaky sea salt, plus more for sprinkling (check Trader Joe’s!)
- Over high heat, boil apple cider until reduced to about a half a cup. This took about 30 minutes.
- While boiling, line an 8×8 pan with parchment, and leave a little overhang so you can lift the candy from the pan.
- When the cider is reduced, take the pan off the heat and add in the butter, sugars, and cream. Mix well and return to medium high heat.
- Using a candy thermometer, boil until the caramel reaches 250 degrees. If you don’t have a candy thermometer, have a cup of ice water ready and periodically drop a bit of caramel into the cold water. When it’s pliable and can be formed into a ball it’s ready!
- Take the candy off the heat and stir in the cinnamon and salt. Pour into the caramel into the pan and sprinkle with a little more salt.
- Let cool for a few hours, and then slice into squares using a well oiled knife.