I've never made candy of any kind before, but in the spirit of the season and making wishes come true I decided to try my hand at caramels and hope for the best. As it turns out, candymaking isn't nearly as difficult or stressful as I imagined it would be (I actually had to take a few deep, calming breaths before I started). Besides, what else was I going to make with leftover cider?
Patience was the biggest test for me here -- all cooks know that you can't rush the good stuff. My stovetop isn't the best for evenly or quickly heating, but I did my best to follow some tips about boiling the cider and reducing it.
My mother gave me a great pep talk before I started, reminding me to watch the pot carefully and assuring me that I wouldn't burn my finger** this time. She also advised on the type of salt I should use to give the caramels that signature sweet-tart balance -- we agreed that fleur de sel would suffice this time, but I might try flake salt for the next go-around.
With the smell of sugar and cinnamon hanging in the air (is there anything better?) I crossed my fingers and popped this in the fridge.
Ready, set... solid!
A few hours later, I uncrossed my fingers and began the sticky process of slicing and wrapping each delectable, sugary piece of caramel. I can't get over the flavor in these little guys! I'm not usually one for finger-licking, but the sweet remains that remain on the fingertips after pulling the wrapper away are too good to waste.
I said it before, but I have to say it again: I made candy!! And I'll make it again, too. Something tells me I've found a new niche obsession in the world of dessert. Now I just need a new candy thermometer and a whole lot of sugar.
** The caramel drizzle I made a few months ago left me with a lasting impression and an extremely painful blister from an accidental brush with the stuff. I felt a little candy-phobic because of it, but I'm so glad I overcame it. No burns this time!