Apple Spice and Everything Nice

(Photo Credit: http://www.nicolemehl.com/)

Growing up in Northern Indiana usually meant that when calendars were flipped to September, temperatures began to drop and Fall slipped in – overnight, it seemed. I love September for many reasons (Happy Birthday to ME!), but primarily it’s the start of Fall that puts that bounce back in my step. A warm sun during the day, sans humidity. Cardigan sweaters and the crackling of a bonfire at night. Mmmmm… I can almost smell the smoke and feel the cool breeze on my face as I type.

Fall also meant apple crisp. Not just any old apple crisp, but my lovely mother’s apple crisp; made from apples she bought at Kercher’s Farmers Market. Speaking of Kercher’s... that place is one that will always hold memories for me! My first memory of that iconic apple orchard was in Kindergarten on a field trip to the farm. We donned our fall coats and shiny new boots and  headed out for an unforgettable afternoon! There was a bumpy hayride, sack lunch sandwiches and all the apples we could eat. And although age and time have unfortunately erased the details from my mind, we also learned how that tangy, spicy fall staple, apple cider, was made.

As I grew older, my encounters with Kercher’s tasted less of apple cider and more of … sweet independence. That was the first place I was allowed to ride my bike by myself. I’d pull apart couch cushions and raid my dad’s spare change cup then bike off into the wide open world. It was always such a tough decision on how to spend my pennies… there was maple candy, homemade cookies, pie, various fruits and even polished rocks. (Which I conveniently happened to be collecting.) But the best part, was the free little cups of apple cider. Ah, tasted like freedom.

We made many trips to Kercher’s for apples throughout the years! My mom made amazing applesauce and even that Amish classic, apple butter. And of course… apple crisp. Now we’ve come full circle. (Love it when my trips down memory lane make a complete circle.)

It’s with great sadness that I purchased just regular old apples from the grocery store today… just not the same as buying them from Kercher’s! I’m still on the hunt for an apple orchard here on the Emerald Coast… not sure one exists. But if any of my friends have a tip on where I can find one, please, please, please let me know! It’s still a little hot here to feel like the fall I’m used to. But I figure a little apple cider can morph this hot Florida afternoon into an Indiana fall day.

SO… it’s Apple Cider Caramels tonigh!

(Photo Credit: http://blondiescakes.blogspot.com/2010/12/apple-cider-caramels.html)

I found this amazing recipe on Pinterest and just have to share it with you!

Ingredients

2 Cups Apple Cider

1 Cup Heavy Cream

1 tsp Cinnamon

Pinch Nutmeg

1/4 tsp Allspice

1 1/2 Cups Sugar

1/3 Cup Light Corn Syrup

1 Stick (1/2 Cup) Butter

Pour cider into a medium saucepan and boil on high for about 20 minutes or until the cider is reduced to 1/3 Cup. Set aside to cool.

Line an 8″ square pan with parchment paper, making sure to leave about 1″ hanging over the edges for easy removal. Spray with non-stick cooking spray and set aside. In a small bowl, combine 2/3 cup cream, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and reduced apple cider. Set aside.

In a large, heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, 1/3 cup heavy cream + enough water to reach the 1/2 cup line on the measuring cup, and corn syrup. Cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Insert a candy thermometer and simmer until the syrup reaches 234 degrees.

Remove from heat and slowly whisk in the cream mixture. Add the cubed butter and stir until the cream and butter are full incorporated. Return the pan to the heat and re-insert the candy thermometer. Cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until the temperature reaches 248 degrees.

Remove from heat and pour the caramel into the prepared pan. Let the mixture cool completely at room temperature or in the refrigerator. Cut the caramels to the desired size and wrap in wax paper. Store in an airtight container or in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Good luck friends, and hey – if candy making isn’t your thing then give me a call and place an order. These will make great holiday gifts that your friends are sure to FALL in love with!!!

I’ve got to run… my cider is simmering and it’s about time for some caramel making magic!

xoxo,

~Stacey K.

P.S.

Isn’t my opening photo gorgeous?! Special thanks to my talented friend, Nicole Mehl, for letting me borrow it today. If you’re an Indiana reader, be sure to check out her work and book with her EARLY. Truly a gifted individual!

(Check out the chart below for some handy info on Apples, courtesy of Kercher’s! Their website is FULL of amazing apple cooking tips and recipes!)

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