We couldn’t let Rosh Hashanah come and go without posting one last fabulous honey and apple dessert. So far we’ve featured a traditional honey cake, and a fun cake and apple skewers with honey caramel sauce, and today we’re sharing the perfect Rosh Hashanah candy: Honey Apple Caramels.
These caramels are rich and creamy, with a soft, chewy texture that melts in your mouth. They have a deep flavor that comes from caramelized sugar, plenty of honey, and a secret ingredient: concentrated apple juice! The apple flavor is subtle but adds a nice fruitiness that makes these caramels taste more complex and exotic than regular caramels.
You can enjoy them plain, but my favorite way to finish them is to dip them in chocolate and top them with a little something extra. For this batch, I topped half with flaked sea salt, and half with a bit of edible gold leaf. It’s a small touch that’s easy to do, but makes them extra-special. Serve these Honey Apple Caramels at a Rosh Hashanah party, package them nicely and give them as a gift, or just eat them all yourself! They’re the perfect way to bring in the new year.
Honey Apple Caramels
yield: 48 caramels
Start by covering an 8×8-inch pan with foil, and spraying the foil with nonstick cooking spray. Set the pan aside for now. Combine the apple juice concentrate, heavy cream, and butter in a small saucepan. You can substitute regular apple juice or apple cider for the apple juice concentrate, if you want.
In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, water, honey, and salt.
Heat the small saucepan of cream over medium heat until it starts to simmer–it just needs to be hot, but there is no need to bring it to a boil. Once it’s simmering, remove it from the heat and cover it with a lid. Set it aside for now.
Put the saucepan of sugar and honey over medium heat. Stir it while the sugar melts, then continue to stir occasionally until it comes to a boil. Once it boils, stop stirring and brush down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush to remove any stray sugar crystals. Insert a candy thermometer, and let the candy continue to cook, without stirring, until it reaches 330 F (166 C). Toward the end of cooking time, you’ll notice that the candy is a dark amber color, and you’ll begin to smell the caramelizing sugar and cooking honey. Watch it carefully toward the end, as the temperature can climb quickly.
Once the caramel is at 330 F, pour the hot cream into the caramel. It will splatter, steam, and boil up, so stand back and watch your hands carefully. The temperature will drop drastically. Stir everything together until it is well-mixed.
Keep cooking the caramel, stirring occasionally. Cook until the temperature rises to about 260 F. If you like really soft caramels, cook the mixture to 255 F, and if you like really firm caramels, cook them to 265 F. I prefer a caramel that’s somewhere in the middle, so I shoot for 260 F.
Once set, remove the caramels from the pan using the foil as handles. Use a large sharp chef’s knife to cut them into small squares. The caramels are rich and thick, so they’re best served in small portions, about 1-inch square or smaller. If you want to serve them plain, wrap them individually in squares of waxed paper to make them easier to store and serve, and to prevent them from sticking together If you want to dip them in chocolate, read on!
To dip them in chocolate, melt the milk chocolate wafers in a bowl in the microwave. Use a fork or dipping tools to dip a caramel in the chocolate until it’s completely submerged. Remove it from the bowl, and let the excess drip back into the bowl.
Now for the fun part: the garnishes! If you want to top them with flaked sea salt, sprinkle a pinch of salt on the top while the coating is still wet. You can do the same thing with sprinkles, coconut, or chopped nuts. Once they’re topped, refrigerate the tray to set the coating completely. If you want to apply edible gold leaf, add that after the coating has already set. Make sure you’re using edible 22-24 karat gold leaf . Carefully cut a small corner out of the sheet of gold leaf, and with the tip of your knife or razor, transfer it over the caramel. Touch it to the top of the chocolate so it sticks, and use a soft paint brush to push it onto the surface and smooth it down. The gold leaf will easily stick to the chocolate, but it can still scratch off, so handle the finished caramels carefully.
Your caramels are now finished, and they’re ready to be given as gifts or served at a party. Enjoy! Scroll down to find an easily printable recipe and pin-able image.
Honey Apple Caramels
yield: 48 caramels
- 1/2 cup apple juice concentrate
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 6 oz unsalted butter
- 2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1/3 cup water
- 1 tsp salt
- 12 oz milk chocolate melting chocolate
- Flaked sea salt, edible gold leaf, or other garnishes (optional)
- Line an 8×8-inch pan with foil, and spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray. (For thinner caramels, a 9×9-inch pan can be used.)
- Combine the apple juice concentrate, cream, and butter in a small saucepan.
- Heat the pan of cream over medium heat just until it starts to simmer. Remove it from the heat, cover it, and set it aside for now.
- In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, honey, water, and salt. Place the pan over medium heat, and stir until the sugar dissolves. Continue to heat the mixture, stirring occasionally, until it comes to a boil.
- Once boiling, stop stirring and brush down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush to remove excess sugar crystals. Insert a candy thermometer, and let the candy continue to cook, without stirring, until it reaches 330 F (166 C). Toward the end of cooking time, you’ll begin to smell the caramelizing sugar and cooking honey. Watch it carefully toward the end, as the temperature can climb quickly.
- Once at 330 F, carefully pour the warm cream into the hot sugar. It will splatter, steam, and boil up, so stand back and watch your hands carefully. The temperature will drop drastically. Stir everything together until it is well-mixed.
- Continue to cook the caramels, stirring occasionally, until the temperature reaches 260 F (127 C). This will produce a medium caramel. If you’d like a soft caramel, cook it to 255 F (124 C), and if you prefer firm caramels, cook it to 265 F (129 C).
- Pour the caramel into the prepared pan and let it cool to room temperature, then refrigerate it until firm.
- Once firm, remove the caramels from the pan using the foil as handles. Let them sit at room temperature until soft enough to cut, then use a large sharp knife to cut into small squares. If you’d like to leave your caramels plain, wrap them individually in squares of waxed paper.
- To dip them in chocolate, melt the chocolate wafers in the microwave. Use a fork or dipping tools to dip each caramel individually, then set the dipped caramel on a baking sheet lined with waxed paper or parchment. If you’d like, sprinkle the tops of the caramels with a pinch of flaked salt while the coating is still wet. Refrigerate the tray to set the chocolate completely. If you want to decorate with gold leaf, apply that after the chocolate has set.
- Serve Honey Apple Caramels at room temperature, and store them in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
Now is the perfect time to start planning your Rosh Hashanah Gifts as you can see we have a large selection of Honey Gifts and all the classic Rosh Hashanah items prefect for dipping the apple in the honey.
All text and images (c) 2013 Elizabeth LaBau.