Apple Cider Caramels +Topsfield Fair and a new friend

Another fantastic fall activity I neglected to mention are fairs.  I’m not sure why they only happen in the fall, but for me, it’s just another plus for the season.  Growing up in the Connecticut River Valley, I often attended the Durham Fair.  Now that I’ve moved out of Connecticut, I wasn’t sure where I was going to get my fair fix.  (Although I did manage to go to the Durham Fair this year, but I hadn’t gone in at least four so double-fairing it this year is totally ok).   Anyway, while trying to figure out what to do this weekend, my friend Kelly mentioned she was going to the Topsfield Fair.  I was so in.  Luke and I went and had a great time.

We had such a good time, we even brought a little piece of the fair home with us….and here she is!

Isn’t she adorable?  I am such a sucker for animals, and when I saw that a large number of the rabbits were for sale, I couldn’t resist.  Luke was smitten too.  Her name is Isadora and she’s a 13-week-old black otter Netherland Dwarf rabbit.  I’m watching her explore our living room while writing this post.  I can’t get enough of her.  I have sat in front of her cage watching her with my camera quite a few times already…and we haven’t even had her for 24 hours.  Luke said that having our own pet makes him feel like more of an adult.  Again, fall gives me my childhood, and somehow slowly takes it away.  It’s ok though, because I get to take photos that are cuteness incarnate.

Anyway, I have an awesome recipe to share.  I love caramel…a lot, and I’ve been dying to make it ever since I got a candy thermometer.  This is the first recipe I’ve tried, and it turned out fabulous.  Plus, it has the flavors of fall, which makes it even better.  The only annoying part was cleaning the pot afterwards and cutting up the caramel into bite-size pieces. I guess I let it cool too long.

Either way, I have a huge tupperware full of individually wrapped caramel, a new bunny, and I couldn’t be happier!

Apple Cider Caramels
adapted from Poet in the Pantry via Blondies Cakes

2 cups apple cider
1 cup heavy or whipping cream, divided
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup real maple syrup
1/2 cup salted butter, cubed

If you don’t already have apple cider reduction on hand, you have to make it first. Pour 2 cups of apple cider into a medium saucepan and boil on high for about 20 minutes, or until the cider is reduced to 1/3 c. Keep a measuring cup nearby in case you need to measure a few times to make sure you have the correct amount. Set aside.

Prepare your 8″ square pan by lining it with parchment paper, leaving about 1″ hanging over the edges for easy removal. You can spray the parchment paper with cooking spray or butter it, but I felt this was redundant and skipped that part.

In a small bowl, combine 2/3 c. cream, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and reduced apple cider. Set aside.

In a large, heavy bottomed saucepan, combine the sugar, 1/3 c. whipping cream + enough water to reach the 1/2 c. line on the measuring cup, and maple syrup. Cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves, then insert the 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 fully incorporated. Return the pan to 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 into logs or individual pieces to the size desired and wrap in wax paper. Store in a covered container, in a cool place or in the refrigerator, for up to 2 weeks.


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