This warm, spiced apple cider is packed with some of the best flavors of fall… apple cider, pumpkin pie spice, and delicious, silky caramel. What’s even better is your slow cooker does most of the work for you while it fills your house with simply delightful aromas.
Note – you can simplify this recipe quite a bit with the use of store bought caramel sauce and whipped cream. However, for a truly decadent experience without all the artificial ingredients, you should give the homemade versions a try at least once. You’ll be happy you did.
1/2 gallon apple cider
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
2 Tbls. pumpkin pie spice*
2 tsp. real vanilla extract
3 cinnamon sticks
3/4 cup homemade caramel sauce, divided** (recipe included below)
Maple-whipped cream*** (recipe included below)
Note – If you don’t have pumpkin pie spice, you can make your own by combining 3 T. cinnamon, 1 T. ground ginger, 1 T. ground nutmeg, 2 t. ground allspice, and 2 t. ground cloves. Store in an airtight container.
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup white sugar
2 Tbls. water
4 Tbls. unsalted butter
Maple Whipped Cream: 1 pint heavy whipped cream 1-2 T. real maple syrup
For the Caramel Sauce: Pre-heat oven to lowest setting.
Warm the heavy cream in a small saucepan over low heat. (You’ll want to slightly warm the cream to prevent curdling when it is added to the hot liquid).
Add the sugar and water to a heavy-bottomed oven-safe saucepan and stir to combine. Set spoon aside and do not stir the sugar mixture again. Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. If sugar crystals remain on the sides of the pan, gently brush them back down with a moistened silicon baking brush.
Continue boiling until the mixture turns a nice amber color. Do not overcook. If mixture gets too dark at this stage, you will need to start over. If a dark spot forms on one side due to uneven heating, lift the pan and gently swirl until the color is even again. Return pan to the burner and reduce heat when the desired color is achieved.
Slowly whisk in the warmed cream until thoroughly incorporated. Be very careful while doing so because the sugar mixture will be extremely hot and will bubble up when the cooler cream is added.
Remove from heat and add butter. Stir with a clean spoon until butter is totally incorporated into the mixture. Cool and store in airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
For the Maple Whipped Cream:
In a large glass bowl, blend 1 pint of heavy whipping cream with a hand or immersion blender until it doubles in size and changes texture. Then, drizzle maple syrup into the bowl and continue blending until the mixture is light and fluffy.
For the Apple Cider:
Add the apple cider, brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice, vanilla, and cinnamon sticks to your slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 3 hours.
After 2.5 hours, stir in ½ cup caramel sauce. Cover and allow the flavors to mingle for remaining 30 minutes.
Remove and discard cinnamon sticks. To serve, ladle the hot cider into mugs and top with maple whipped cream and drizzle with additional caramel sauce.
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