Did you know that you can split, scrape, and chop up a vanilla bean, throw it in a saucepan, place it over medium heat, toast it for a few minutes, then grind it up with a mortal and pestel and have this amazingly delicious vanilla powder stuff to mix with sugar? How did I not know this before coming across it last week on the lovely blog Top with Cinnamon? Never again will I simply bury scraped vanilla beans in my sugar. Never again. OhmygahI’msoobsessedwithit! For real.
Speaking of obsessed, last weekend at the farmer’s market, Dale and I got some Mercier Orchards apple cider. And holy moly, it’s good! I’ve decided that warm, spiced apple cider poured over bourbon is my official go-to fall drink. So naturally, I began thinking about spiced cider and dessert. Something warm and smooth and comforting.
This caramel is it. Creamy, sweet, thick, delicious, magical. I think it’s even better than my best ever caramel sauce. This is the new best ever. The fall version of best ever. The quintessential fall ice cream topper, pie smotherer, spoon dipper. Let’s dive in!
Apple Cider Caramel Sauce
Makes about 12 ounces
- 2 cups apple cider
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 Tbsp. whole allspice berries
- 3-4 whole cloves
- 1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 Tbsp. light corn syrup
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 2 Tbsp. butter
In a large saucepan set over medium heat, combine cider, cinnamon sticks, allspice berries, cloves, and vanilla bean seeds and pod. Bring to a low boil. Continue cooking until reduced about 2/3 (to about 1/3 of what it was), 20-30 minutes.
Add sugar and corn syrup and whisk until sugar is completely melted. Let cook, without stirring, until boiling. Continue cooking until mixture thickens and darkens slightly (about 240 F if using a thermometer). Remove from heat and stir in cream and butter until combined. Return to heat and cook until mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon.
Let cool about 15 minutes then transfer to a jar. Caramel will keep in the refrigerator for several weeks.
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