Spiced Apple Cider Caramel Sauce

I love this distinctive, unusual caramel sauce. It was included as part of the Spiced Pumpkin Sour Cream Upside-Down Coffee Cake post, but was unfortunately buried at the end. It deserves a home of its own, so that folks won’t miss it.

Spiced Apple Cider Caramel Sauce

This sauce is absolutely delicious. Imagine a dark caramel sauce with the additional flavor and acidity of tart green apples. I love it on everything in the Fall season–over vanilla bean or sweet corn gelato, with warm-spiced roasted apples, alongside pumpkin bread pudding, with beignet or ebelskiver, over delicate cottage cheese pancakes or Swedish flespannkaka (small, crepe-like pancakes with bits of rendered salt pork) , and most especially with Spiced Pumpkin Sour Cream Upside-Down Cake with Caramelized Cranberry Hazelnut Topping and Orange Cream.

6 cups apple cider (preferably no added sugar or preservatives and fresh pressed)
1 Mexican (canela) cinnamon stick, broken into pieces

½ teaspoon whole cloves
½ teaspoon whole allspice
1 whole star anise
1½ cups sugar
½ cup water
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar

  1. To reduce the apple cider, add cider, cinnamon, and allspice to a medium saucepan, set over brisk heat, bring to a simmer, and simmer until reduced to 1½ cups. Remove from the heat and reserve.
  2. To make the caramel, combine the sugar, water, and cream of tartar in a medium saucepan and set over medium-low heat.
  3. Stir constantly until the sugar dissolves and the syrup clears. To prevent crystallization, do not rush this first step; use a pastry brush dipped in cold water to wash down the sides of the saucepan.
  4. When the sugar is fully dissolved, raise the heat, bring the syrup to a boil, and stop stirring. Continue heating without stirring until the syrup turns a dark amber color. An instant-read thermometer will read 340°.
  5. Remove from the heat immediately and set in a larger pan of ice water to stop the cooking.
  6. Back on the stovetop, with no heat, carefully stir in the apple cider, keeping your distance, as the mixture will rise up and splatter.
  7. Now, over low heat, stir until the caramel and cider are blended.
  8. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature. If the sauce is a little too thick for your intended purpose, thin it progressively with a small amount of additional apple cider.
  9. To store, refrigerate in a covered container. Reheat gently before serving.
  10. Makes 2 cups.


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    • Susan S. Bradley says

      Anna, I have kept it in the frig for MONTHS, with no deterioration or bacterial growth.. Can’t recommend such a long storage time though. :-)

  1. smsb says

    Tiffany, thank you, you sure know how to brighten my day. :-) I am excited to work this up for you, along with a burnt sugar gelato that I sampled recently at Cafe Juanita near Kirkland, WA. It was served with a decadent chocolate torte but after I tasted the gelato, I didn’t care about the torte anymore. I mean seriously, that gelato has to be one of the best 10 things I have eaten this year. And well, as long as I am torturing you here, check out the Portland Faves link list in the right sidebar of the blog. Click Gelato and go to an excellent article on all the best Portland gelato.

  2. Tiffany says

    Sounds fantastic!! I love pumpkin anything, and who doesn’t love gelato so…pumpkin gelato?? yum! I don’t know what I’ll look foreward to the most, the recipe or the incredible picture that will accompany it!

  3. smsb says

    Tiffany, oh yes, I love making and eating ice cream and gelato. :-) In fact, the frig frequently contains a couple of custard sauces that are chilling for a day or two before going into the ice cream machine. I planned to post my Fresh Corn Ice Cream and Green Tea Ice Cream this past summer but the time got away from me with the new blog and all. How about a Spiced Pumpkin Gelato for the fall season instead? Maybe I can work that into the schedule. I use the same proportions and ingredients for ice cream and gelato, except for the latter, some of the cream is replaced with milk. This is especially effective with fruit flavors, as too much cream tends to mute their vibrancy.

  4. Tiffany says

    speaking of gelato… do you make it? Living so far away from civilization I am unable to buy any (that should even be called gelato) but haven’t found a good recipe that I can make in my icecream maker… is it possible?


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