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
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.
To make the caramel, combine the sugar, water, and cream of tartar in a medium saucepan and set over medium-low heat.
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.
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°.
Remove from the heat immediately and set in a larger pan of ice water to stop the cooking.
Back on the stovetop, with no heat, carefully stir in the apple cider, keeping your distance, as the mixture will rise up and splatter.
Now, over low heat, stir until the caramel and cider are blended.
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.
To store, refrigerate in a covered container. Reheat gently before serving.
Makes 2 cups.