Monday, November 11, 2013

Homemade Caramel and baked Salted Caramel Apple Cider Donuts

Today was a great day. Today I accomplished something that I have never been able to before...


Let me back up. This blog isn't about me learning to cook. I have known the ins and outs of a kitchen for quite some time, learning from my Mom, Dad, the food network, and my own experiments. I was a pastry chef at a local bakery for a short time after college. My point is, I am not a novice chef. This blog is about me trying to take food that our family, and I believe most families, buy processed and make it from scratch in my kitchen to avoid unnecessary ingredients and chemicals.

So, caramel. I don't know why, but the times I have tried making any type of candy which involves boiling water and sugar to a certain point it has gone terribly wrong. I've ended up with hard sugar in the bottom of my saucepan that is a killer to clean! My grandma used to make amazing peanut brittle and the time I tried to make that it was a complete disaster. Maybe it is my lack of patience. Maybe I actually need to buy a thermometer. Well, maybe not. Not today. Not with this recipe!

I found this recipe for caramel from the same place I saw the recipe for the salted caramel cider donuts I wanted to make with my nifty donut pan: from Monday Morning Donut. Salted caramel seems to be a trendy food item right now but I assure you I have always always been a fan of it. I'm a big salty-sweet person, so this was a natural combination. Dipping cider donuts into creamy caramel and sprinkling it with a pinch of salt is just my idea of heaven. Next time I'll make them chocolate donuts. I don't even know if I can handle that.

I'm not sure what about this recipe made me feel confident enough to try caramel again. I think it is because it doesn't rely solely on the boiled sugar water part. There is a frosting component. So maybe it just seemed a little safer.

It starts with water and sugar in a saucepan, and brought to a simmer

It also has a frosting part - powdered sugar, salt, dark corn syrup, and boiling water

This is when it get scary. When it starts to turn brown. You have to watch to make sure it gets a nice amber color without burning!

Success...this is when I took it off the heat and added the cream!

I've read how the mixture bubbles away when you add the cream, and boy did it. I added it slowly and whisked away (so I didn't get m picture while it was happening...this is after things calmed down a bit).

I kept whisking until I was certain it wasn't going to spontaneously combust. Then I added it to my frosting component:

Then when well combined...taa-daaa!!! Caramel!! I was so excited.

Perfect consistency for dipping freshly made donuts.

After I dipped the donuts I put the rest in a jar in the fridge for later applications on ice cream.

Perfect Caramel

3 cups powdered sugar
pinch salt
2 tsp. dark corn syrup
2-3 Tbsp. boiling water
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup heavy cream

Combine the powdered sugar, salt, and corn syrup in a bown with a whisk. Whisk in the hot water a little at a time until it comes together in to a frosting...or more like a thick glaze.
In a sauce pan, combine sugar and water and set over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and lower heat to medium to let it simmer. Don't stir it, don't move it. Just let it go. Let is simmer 7-8 minutes or until it turns a rich brown color. You have to watch it! Remove it from the heat and slowly pour in the cream, whisking the whole time. It will bubble up but keep whisking! Whisk it until it is well combined.
Add this to your frosting/glaze mixture and stir until well combined. That is it! That is your caramel! Use it for ice cream, desserts, anything. Dip the following apple cider donuts in it. Put it in an jar and eat it with a spoon. Seriously.
It will get hard in the fridge. To make it sauce-like again, just heat it up for a bit in the microwave in 10 second intervals.

Here are the Salted Caramel Apple Cider Donuts I made. They are scrumptious. The cider in the donuts give them great flavor and moisture. This recipe made a lot, but I was able to give some away to stop myself from devouring TOO many of them. They are on the small side though, so it is totally OK to have many of them.

My son helped me mix the batter. The hand mixer was a new skill for him, in the absence of my kitchen aid mixer.

Here they are cooled and ready for caramel. If you want more step-by-step donut instructions, you can find that here.


Must. Let. Cool.

Sprinkled with sea salt. Must. Not. Eat. Yet.

Forget it. One is getting eaten.

Salted Caramel Apple Cider Donuts (baked)
from Monday Morning Donut

Makes 30 donuts

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
3 egg yolks
1 cup unfiltered apple cider

  • Preheat oven to 350° F coat your Donut Pan with cooking spray.
  • In a large bowl, combine flour, cornstarch, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, kosher salt. Whisk to combine and aerate and set aside while you do the next couple of steps.
  • Cream together the 1 1/2 cups sugar and 1 1/2 cups butter.
  • Stir in the 3 large eggs, 3 egg yolks until well-blended.
  • Fold in the dry ingredients and the apple cider. Do not overmix to ensure tender donuts.
  • Spoon or pipe the cake batter into the cavities of your donut pan.
  • Bake for 8-10 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. I recommend cooling the donuts in the pan to avoid breaking them while unmolding. 

  • While the donuts are cooling, make the caramel sauce and dip the cooled donuts in and set back on cooling rack. Sprinkle with sea salt, if desired.

    Here is a trick I used with my donut pan. I don't like using non stick spray because I have yet to find one that is JUST oil. So I always use butter or oil for non-sticking purposes. If the pan is warm, you can take a stick of butter and just run it quickly around the donut part. It coats it perfectly. If you think this is adding extra fat, what do you think non-stick sprays are made of?


    1. Sweet mother of all that is good and holy. These look so. so. so. so. good. *drool*

      1. My diet isn't going very well, Brittany ;)