Have you heard of the phrase "to-die-for"? I think that it might have been invented just for this Salted Apple Cider Caramel Sauce! Think I'm kidding? Well maybe so, but "to die for" is exactly what both Scott and I said when we took the first tiny tastes of this caramel sauce. And the second and the third... well, we won't go any further.
Each year in late August I like to pick up a jug of apple cider and make this fabulous Apple Cider Caramel Sauce to get me psyched up for the coming season. It's super easy and, except for reducing the apple cider, it comes together in minutes. The apple cider reduction (the delicious secret in this recipe) takes 15 minutes but it's mostly hands-off time. It's simply a matter of simmering the cider till it's sweet and syrupy (and literally bursting with apple flavor!).
After that, the whole thing comes together in less than 10 minutes. It's so easy you might not like me any more, as this sauce can go from a whim to a wonderful reality in no time flat. That's dangerous!
You'll flip when you take the first taste; it's sweet, rich, silky smooth and buttery, with lots of caramel flavor. But then comes the amazing part; the tart, bright and fresh apple flavor hits your taste buds - the combination is impossibly delicious!
How to use this sauce
You'll find a zillion ways to use this Apple Cider Caramel Sauce (besides eating it with a spoon right from the jar!). Here are a few ideas:
- Keep a carton of good vanilla ice cream in the freezer and a jar of this sauce in the fridge and you'll have a fabulous instant dessert. Serve it with a few shortbread cookies on the side for a heavenly treat!
- Use it as a dipping sauce for fresh apple slices for a healthy/splurge dessert.
- This is a perfect pairing with any apple dessert and takes whatever you put it on up another delicious level.
- Drizzle a bit over oatmeal topped with fresh apples and a bit of cream for a super delicious weekend breakfast.
- Swirl it through your favorite brownie mix.
- Drizzle it over pancakes topped with diced apples instead of maple syrup.
- Use it as a sauce for dessert crepes filled with Mascarpone or Ricotta.
- Dip chunks of bananas in this apple cider caramel sauce, coat with finely chopped pecans, then freeze for a fun, sweet snack or dessert.
- Use as a sauce for apple dumplings.
- Stir a spoonful into your coffee for a Saturday morning splurge.
Café Tips for making this Salted Apple Cider Caramel Sauce
- If you use a medium-large pot to make this sauce, it will take less time to reduce the cider as the surface area is nice and large.
- Watch the sauce carefully during the last few minutes of reduction. You want the cider to get nice and syrupy but not boiled down to nothing (and a burnt pan!).
- You can use light brown sugar in this Apple Cider Caramel Sauce, but I really like the deep color and rich flavor that results from dark brown sugar.
- This sauce doubles easily and keeps well in the refrigerator. It's great to have on hand for a super easy dessert for unexpected guests (or when the sweet tooth fairy strikes).
- Feel free to omit the cinnamon and cloves. They add a touch of fall, but the sauce will still be delicious without them!
- This recipe calls for flaky sea salt. I love Maldon flaky sea salt. As the name implies, it's a salt that has a flaky consistency rather than crystallized. The most well-known producer of flaky sea salt is Maldon (my favorite and the choice of many chefs), which sources its flakes from the waters off Essex, England (about 50 miles north of London). It's a little more expensive than some sea salt, but it's really nice to keep a box of this on hand to use as a finishing salt. Just a tiny pinch of flaky sea salt, rubbed between your fingers adds fabulous flavor and a little crunch to so many dishes.
This silky smooth Apple Cider Caramel Sauce is buttery and bursting with delicious, fresh apple flavor. It's wonderful on ice cream and is also a fabulous way to pizzaz up any fall dessert!
- 1 cup apple cider
- ¼ cup butter 2 ounces
- ½ cup dark brown sugar packed
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon cloves
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon sea flaky salt
Place the apple cider in a medium-size, heavy-bottomed pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a high, steady simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes, until cider gets syrupy and is reduced to 2 tablespooons.
Add butter to pan and cook until melted. Add the sugar, cream and spices. Stir until well blended. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a high, steady simmer and cook for 5 more minutes, stirring frequently.
Remove from heat and add vanilla extract and flaky sea salt. Stir to combine.
You're done! The sauce will thicken as it cools. If it gets too thick, just add an extra bit of apple cider or cream and stir well. Sauce should be stored in the refrigerator. It can be re-warmed in the microwave or on the stovetop in a small pan.
See Café Tips above for further instructions and more detailed tips.
Recipe makes 2 cups of caramel sauce.
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