Apple Cider Caramels with Saffron and Rose water

apple cider caramels with saffron and rose water


Yes I went there and added Saffron and Rose water to this already perfect Apple Cider Caramel recipe. Why mess with something that’s been tested and approved? Simply because I believe that cooking is all about experimentation. Recipes serve as the framework to your process, but heck if you feel inspired in that moment? I say go ahead and freestyle- add your own flavor to the final dish and make it your own, you might start a new family recipe. On the other hand, you may decide that you’d never try that ingredient combination again, but in the end you tried and that’s what matters most. The more you experiment in the kitchen, the more practice you’ll get and ultimately the more comfortable you’ll feel. It’s win, win!

Last Fall, I made these caramels and followed the recipe exactly as it was intended. I had never made caramels prior or any other confection. Working with super hot sugar seemed like territory for the pros. But something happened when I saw this particular post that inspired me to try something different. Maybe it was the mouthwatering photos that drew me in or maybe it was the encouraging way Deb Perelman writes, or maybe it was a good excuse to buy a new kitchen gadget like a candy thermometer. Whatever it was I’m glad I challenged myself, because I learned something new. And as cheesy as that sounds, it felt great. So go for it, surprise yourself in the kitchen you never know what magic you’ll create.  And as Jacques Pepin always says, “Happy Cooking!”

(For the record adding saffron and rose water took this recipe to another level in an exciting way. With the first bite this caramel tastes just like apple pie, and it’s at the end where the flavor of the saffron and rose water comes through to mix in with the apple buttery sweetness of the caramel. It’s pure cooking alchemy.)

saffron threads and rose water

saffron threads

crushed saffron, cinnamon and Maldon sea salt

Apple Cider Caramels with Saffron and Rose water

The recipe below is from the Smitten Kitchen blog and I just changed steps 1 and 2 to reflect the addition of the saffron and rose water.


  • 4 cups of apple cider
  • 1/4 cup rose water
  • 1/4 tsp. saffron powder, crushed with a mortar and pestle into powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons flaky sea salt, such as Maldon
  • 8 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream


1. Boil the apple cider, plus rosewater in a 3- to- 4- quart saucepan over high heat until it is reduced to a dark, thick syrup, between 1/3 and 1/2 cup in volume. This takes about 35 to 40 minutes and maybe quicker if you have an electric stove.  Stir occasionally.

2. Meanwhile, get your other ingredients in order, because you won’t have time to spare once the candy is cooking. Line the bottom and sides of an 8- inch straight- sided square metal baking pan with 2 long sheets of crisscrossed parchment. Set it aside. Stir the cinnamon, saffron powder and flaky salt together in a small dish.

3. Once you are finished reducing the apple cider, remove it from the heat and stir in the butter, sugars, and heavy cream. Return the pot to medium- high heat with a candy thermometer attached to the side, and let it boil until the thermometer reads 252 degrees, only about 5 minutes. Keep a close eye on it. I do reccomend purchasing a candy thermometer if you don’t have one, it helps to keep this recipe fool-proof.

4. Immediately remove caramel from heat, add the cinnamon-saffron- salt mixture, and give the caramel several stirs to distribute it evenly. Pour caramel into the prepared pan. Let it sit for 2 hours until cool and firm, but still soft to the touch. Once caramel is done, use your parchment paper sling to transfer the block to a cutting board. Use a well- oiled knife, oiling it after each cut with a neutral oil (trust me!), to cut the caramel into 1-by-1-inch squares. Wrap each one in a 4-inch square of waxed paper, twisting the sides to close. Caramels will be somewhat on the soft side at room temperature, and chewy/firm from the fridge.

3 thoughts on “Apple Cider Caramels with Saffron and Rose water

  1. What a strange combination, but I’m glad you thought of it. I feel the same way about working with sugar that can scald me, so I’ve stayed far far away from caramel recipes, but maybe I’ll try in the near future?

    Also, I have to say I love that white plate in the photo with the saffron! Thanks for sharing this recipe =)

    • I say go for it Ashley-Marie make some caramels, the candy thermometer really helps. And yes the ingredient combination may seem different for many, but in Persian sweets we use a lot of saffron and rose water either together or individually. When I make another batch, I’ll have to send you some :)

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