Every so often, my friend Tenaya and I get together and build a cheese board. She brings the cheeses and I come bearing preserves and other treats. A few weeks ago, we had a little mid-afternoon party for two in which we paired a log of downy goat cheese with apple cinnamon caramel, cranberry caramel, and crunchy caramel popcorn.
The cranberry caramel is essentially a version of this strawberry caramel I made for Simple Bites many moons ago (8 ounces of cranberries cooked with 1 1/2 cups of water, and then pureed until very smooth). The only change I made was to cook the caramelizing sugar to 285F rather than 250F (for a deeper caramel flavor).
I made a batch of this oven toasted caramel corn to go along with the cheese and preserves. In our minds, this array would be a fun spread for New Year’s Eve, and that’s the perfect night for a sweet, crunchy treat.
Tenaya and her brother Andre have had two cocktail-centric books come out this year (The New Cocktail Hour and Turner Classic Movies: Movie Night Menus) and so she whirred up a creamy, nutmeg flecked cocktail. Make sure to check out Tenaya’s post about our board.
However you celebrate the arrival of the New Year, I hope it’s a very happy turn of the year!
Apple Cinnamon Caramel
For the apple puree:
- 2 pounds apples
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
For the caramel:
- 3 cups granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 cups water
- Prepare a boiling water bath canner and four half pint jars.
- Wash the apples. Quarter and core them. Place them in a saucepan with the water and simmer for 20-25 minutes, until the apples are quite soft.
- Pour the cooked apples into a blender carafe and add the cinnamon. Puree until very, very smooth. You should have about three cups of apple puree.
- Combine sugar with water in a small sauce pan. Place over medium-high heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes, until the sugar reaches 285°F and darkens to the color of a tarnished copper penny.
- Do not stir the cooking syrup, instead hold the handle of the pot and gently swirl it to move things around.
- Once the syrup has reached 285°F, remove the pot from the heat and stir in the apple puree. It will bubble, spatter, and appear to seize up, so take care.
- Stir puree into the sugar until it is a smooth sauce and return the pot to the heat. Continue stirring and cooking, until the sauce reaches 218°F.
- Remove caramel from heat and funnel into prepared jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Wipe rims, apply lids and rings and process in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes.