By Nick Thomas
Photography by Grace Schrater
For some reason, when my sweet-tooth starts yelling at me to satisfy its sugary cravings, my lazy-tooth rolls his eyes and says, “Fine, make a sweet treat, but let’s not do too much work or dirty up too many dishes.” It’s sad but I’ll admit it: thinking about all the mixing bowls, utensils, pans, etc. that I’d have to clean up after a simple batch of cookies sometimes causes me to explore simpler options. For example, my Sea-Salted Cider Caramel Sauce is as easy as throwing stuff in a pan and waiting for it to do its thing, and has limitless possibilities for how it can be consumed.
Because this is a dessert recipe, I wanted to go with a cider that was on the sweeter side but still had a prominent apple flavor. I used the award-winning Bold Rock Hard Cider Virginia Draft. It’s a crisp, refreshing cider, and with its low alcohol content and mild effervescence, it’s very smooth and drinkable and teeters in similarity somewhere been a lite beer and a soft drink (in a good way). Check out the recipe below and check out our recently profile of Bold Rock here.
Yields: About 1½ cups caramel
Cook time: 60-90 minutes
4 cups cider
5 tablespoons butter
½ heavy whipping cream
1¼ cups brown sugar
1 tsp sea salt
In a medium sauce pan bring cider to a boil, reduce heat to medium and let simmer until reduced to about a ½ cup (or slightly less) of dark, syrupy liquid. About 40 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and whisk until combined.
Bring mixture to a simmer once again over a medium-low to medium heat until desired consistency in achieved, whisking frequently and watching to make sure it doesn’t boil over. Approximately 10-15 will result in a thin sauce, 20-25 minutes will result in a thicker syrup, and 30-40 minutes will result in a fudgy, almost Starburst-like consistency (cooking times may vary depending on stove).
Remove from heat and let cool. Note that sauce will thicken as it cools and firm up even more when chilled (stored in fridge, drizzled on ice cream, etc.)
What to do with it your sweet creation: drizzle on desserts such as ice cream, pie, cheesecake, brownies; use it to dip fruit or pretzels into; use it as a sweetener for morning granola or yogurt… the possibilities are endless! You can even make a Hot Caramel Apple Cider—a delicious hot cocoa alternative—with 2 tablespoons of caramel to 1 cup of hot water (and splash in a little rum or bourbon for an adult version).