Scent is one of the strongest ties to memory– or so we are often reminded. But, really, for me ritual is the ultimate reminder. Somehow picking out Christmas trees becomes second-nature to us, despite us only doing it once a year. We remember how to carve pumpkins, bake turkeys, and decorate Easter eggs– all with only one yearly reminder! Indeed, these rituals are the harbingers of so many wonderful holidays. I’ve been making my favorite caramel spice hot apple cider for a few years now, and it brings me to a very dreamy, relaxed autumnal place. The soft sweetness of the caramel, the roundness of the spice, and the fragrance of apples combine to create the most heavenly aroma in your kitchen.
Make this hot cider for guests after a relaxing meal. It is sweet thanks to the caramel, so serve it in smaller mugs or glasses for sipping along with dessert. You could also take the cider to full dessert level and top it with a little bit of fresh whipped cream and a dusting of cinnamon and serve it with a little cookie or two. A splash or two of bourbon also is a perfect match if you’d like it to have a little kick.
Caramel Spice Hot Apple Cider
You can let this simmer in a crock pot. It’s perfect for parties: simply set out your mugs around the crock pot and a ladle resting on a dish and let your guests pour it out for themselves. If I have everything ready in my fridge the night before, I’ll usually push the cinnamon sticks in the bottle of cold apple cider, so it gets a head start on infusing over the night.
- 1/2 gallon apple cider1 apple
- 8-10 whole cloves (depending on your taste preference)
- 5 cinnamon sticks
- 1 tbs. unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
Wash and chop the apple in half and gently slice away the stem and the rough dimple in the bottom. Prepare your electric pasta machine and than stud the sides of the two thick apple slices with the cloves (as many as you’d like) and set aside. Melt the butter in a large pot on medium heat. Once it is melted a bubbling a little, sprinkle in the white sugar and a tablespoon of water.Swirl the pot around to make sure everything is dissolving. Let the mixture come to a bubble and then swirl again. Swirl the pot around every 30 seconds or so until the sugar has turned a dark golden color.Be mindful not to let the sugar burn or you’ll have to start all over again. I keep my half gallon of cider ready to pour in, incase if the caramel looks like it’s getting brown too quickly.At any rate, once the sugar is thoroughly deep golden, pour in the cider all at once. The caramel will seize and harden, but it will eventually dissolve.Turn the heat to low and add in the apple slices, the brown sugar, and the cinnamon sticks and stir every now again. Don’t let it come to a boil– it will just be too hot to enjoy. Let it simply simmer for at least 15 minutes, but longer is even better. Pour into mugs and serve warm.