This version of the recipe starts with plain jug cider and spices it directly. However, if you happen to have leftover wassail from our Christmas SpicePac recipes, feel free to use it here! Just substitute it for the cold press cider and sachet d’espices, and start at Step 2.
YOU WILL NEED THESE THINGS:
2 cups cold press apple cider (I like honeycrisp)+1 Sachet d’epices*
1/2 c unsalted butter (one stick) cut into chunks, PLUS some for pan
3/4 c granulated sugar
3/4 c packed brown sugar
1 tsp finely shredded orange zest (optional)
1/3 c heavy cream
1/2 t salt
1 tsp rum extract
5 drops Apple oil (optional)
neutral oil for knife
cheesecloth (or coffee filter)
properly calibrated candy thermometer and/or COLD glass of ICE water**
attention span sufficient for caramel making
1 1/2 inch cinnamon stick, broken
7 coriander seeds
3 allspice berries
3 black peppercorns (Tellicherry preferred)
1 cardamom pod, split
PREP: Line your 8×8 with parchment paper; butter the parchment. Make sachet d’epices by placing all spices in the center of a square of muslin or cheesecloth, or a coffee filter. Tie closed with a piece of twine and tie to the handle of your pot, with the sachet fully submerged in the liquid.
(1) Simmer the cider with the sachet d’epices in the saucepan over medium-low heat for about 45 minutes (mulling the cider). For richer spice flavor notes, mull longer. Be careful not to reduce too far. Remove the sachet.
(2) Raise the heat to medium and boil the cider until it reduces to 1/3 c syrup.
(3) Add the sugars, zest, butter, and cream. Bring to a boil, cook to softball stage**. Immediately remove from heat, add the salt and extracts. Pour into pan without scraping the sides of the pot.
(4) Cool about 2 hours at room temperature, or an hour in the fridge.
(5) Cut into one-inch squares (should be 64 of them). Wrap in 4-inch squares of parchment paper and twist to close. Store in the fridge for harder caramels or room temperature for soft ones. Share them with someone you want to impress.
**Remember to calibrate your thermometer, and to adjust the goal temperature for your specific elevation!
Happy holiday candy making!!!