Homemade Slow Cooker Apple Cider

Those of you who have been faithful followers of my blog (and how I love each and every one of you!!) can probably already guess that my favorite season is autumn. I love everything about it from pumpkins, bonfires, and the beautiful changing of leaves to the slightly cooler temps, crisp air, and all the festivities that take place during this wonderous time of the year. And we certainly can’t forget that this fall I have something special to look forward to and that’s the arrival of my third little lady or that it will be mine and my husband’s fourth year of marriage and my (soon-to-be) middle daughter’s third birthday. So many good things happen in my favorite season. Who couldn’t love it?

It’s not quite autumn, yet, but as soon as we enter the month of August, my fall-senses kick in and I automatically welcome the idea of bringing back comfort foods that make your insides all warm and fuzzy. Since the month began, I’ve already made big, steaming pots of white chicken chili, Chicken Noodle soup, beef stew, and (my husband’s personal fave) Broccoli Cheese Soup (I know, I know. Recipes will follow when I get my measurements¬†down ūüėČ ) . I don’t even care that we’ve been in a heat wave for the past week. Pssh. 95 degrees? Who cares? You can always make time for some good ol’fashioned comfort food.

Want to know one thing that can’t be beaten in the cooler months to come? The sweet, spicy aroma of Fresh Homemade Apple Cider permeating throughout your home. There’s nothing better than being able to leave your house for a few hours with the cider simmering in the crock pot and returning to a house that smells like it skipped summer and went straight to fall. In less than half a day you can enjoy a fresh, warm glass of homemade cider that beats store bought, any day. What I love best about making my own is it calls for very minimal effort, it’s pretty much a Fix it & Forget it drink, and if made right, it doubles as a homemade apple sauce.

IMG_0232 copy

Here’s how I make it. Enjoy!

Homemade Apple Cider

INGREDIENTS:

  • 5-6 Red delicious Apples (or your favorite sweet, red apple)
  • 5-6 ¬†Granny Smith apples
  • 1-2 Oranges (I used two because the oranges I had were somewhat small)
  • 1/2 cup Brown sugar
  • 4¬†sticks of cinnamon
  • 1 tbs. whole cloves
  • 6 whole allspice
  • 1 tsp. Cardamom
  • 1 tsp. Nutmeg (optional)
  • 10-12 cups of water (enough to cover an inch above apples when pushed down with spoon)


DIRECTIONS:

  1. (See notes below on how to double recipe as apple sauce before beginning) Leaving skins and stems on, quarter apples and oranges; put in the slow cooker.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients to the slow cooker as well. Give apples a quick stir. Turn cooker on low and let simmer for about 3-4 hours.
  3. After cooking time has passed, mash apples as much as possible using a potato masher. Cook for another 1-3 hours until the desired flavor is reached.
  4. Strain apples and liquid in a fine mesh strainer and cheesecloth to remove any fine apple pieces.
  5.  Serve immediately if you like your cider warm or allow to chill for a few hours if you like it cool.
  6. Pour cider into an airtight container and store in the fridge for 1 week or in the freezer for later use.
  7. Enjoy this sweet, flavor punch to mouth! ūüėČ

Notes

  • If you want to double this recipe as cider and applesauce, be sure to remove stems, cores, and seeds as well as peeling the apples. I would also suggest putting your whole spices and cinnamon sticks in a cheesecloth in the form of a sachet so that when you mash the apples, these can be easily removed without having to dig through. Before mashing apples, remove orange slices then mash away. Strain cider and put mashed apples in another container. At this point the cider and applesauce are ready, however, if you want to add the spice sachet back to the cider to simmer for more flavor, you can. Just be sure to remove it before serving.

You can guarantee I’ll be making this all season long and plan to serve it at my baby shower and my daughter’s Fall Festival themed birthday where I am sure it will be a hit. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did making it. Please don’t be intimidated to try this super simple recipe. It’s one I’m sure you will be glad you tried.

What’s your favorite thing about Autumn? Let me know in the comments.

Don‚Äôt forget to give my blog a quick follow for new recipes and¬†updates in my crazy life. ¬†‚̧

 

 

Advertisements

Homemade Caramel Sauce

The other day I gave you my recipe for Caramel Buttercream Frosting  (Along with my version of caramel buttercream, inside) for my Angry Orchard Cupcakes. Today I want to give you the recipe for my Homemade Caramel Sauce. After many trial and errors, I finally developed a recipe that I am sure you all will love as much as I do!

+_MG_0529 copywords

I LOVE caramel!! I’ve never been able to turn down a soft, chewy piece of caramel candy or a warm drizzle of velvety caramel sauce over a cold scoop of vanilla ice-cream. In fact, when Mason (my hubby) and I make a random stop to Starbucks (these stops seem to be more frequent, lately), he always orders the Salted Caramel Cake Pops. That is, until they stopped selling them. Boo. (Insert Sad face…here).

This past Christmas, my husband asked me to make a cheesecake for his best friend and his wife (I still haven’t perfected my cheesecake recipe-boo! Sorry, Holly.). He told me that she, too, is a big fan of caramel and that’s about the only dessert she will eat. So, with that in mind, I decided I wanted to give the whole “make-your-own” caramel sauce a try. I love trying to go above and beyond when I get into baking. I guess that’s me trying to impress people, I don’t know, but being in culinary school I should be stepping up my game somewhere.

When¬†I started, I kept in mind that the caramel is going to get its amber color and nutty flavor from the cooking down of the sugar (caramelization). I just didn’t know the best method to start with, so I tried it two ways. The first way, the very unsuccessful way, I added about 2 cups of sugar with a few tablespoons of water and cooked it in a large pot over medium heat. It started out great with very little color changes. After a few more minutes, it started crystallizing. Big nope. I tried adding a little more water to thin it and rid it of the crystals but it only worked for so long. I decided straight away that this wasn’t the approach I wanted to stick with so I remembered what Chef Rob told me about Gordon Ramsey’s method. For a simple caramel, Ramsey adds a layer of sugar in a pan over heat and lets the sugar melt down. He swirls the pan making sure the excess sugar gets melted as well. He adds butter and Viola! Caramel!

Sure enough, this way worked best for me! Ofcourse, I added a few more things to make it more of a silky-smooth sauce. This caramel has a deep amber color and is very rich in flavor that reminds me of Creme Brulee.

Here is how I make mine:

Homemade Rich, Velvety Caramel Sauce

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 3¬†Tbs. Butter
  • 1/2 Cup + 2 tbs. Heavy whipping cream

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Heat a large pot over medium to medium high heat.
  2. Add 1 cup of sugar to pot and swirl to make an even layer over the bottom.
  3. Wait for sugar to start melting then swirl pot occasionally to finish melting the rest of sugar in pot.¬†(bring off heat every now and then if you think it’s cooking too fast).
  4. Once all the sugar is melted and has an amber color, remove from heat and whisk in butter.
  5. Once butter is incorporated, gradually whisk in the cream. Do this step slowly to keep the caramel from getting sugar clumps.
  6. If the caramel sauce seems like it is too thick in the bend of the pot, place it back on the heat and whisk constantly until it is easily incorporated back in. (As soon as you return it to the heat it will bubble up so be sure to whisk quickly).
  7. Remove from heat and allow to cool a few minutes before using diving into this velvety smooth, rich decadent sauce!

This recipe may be a little complicated at first, but with practice and patience it will come easily after you get the caramelization of the sugar down pat. If you would like to see how Gordon Ramsey does it click here.

I hope you give this recipe a try and let me know how it worked for you. What would you use this sauce on?

Got a recipe you wanna share? Send it to me and I will give it a try and even feature it on my blog.¬†Wanna be Blogger-Buddies? Contact me¬†and let‚Äôs chat! ūüôā

Don’t forget to Follow me!