I have a little news today. I have fallen head over heels in love–with Fall. Over the past week or so as I reluctantly layered my vibrant summer tanks under fall cardis and slipped on my boots with shorts and tights, I thought longingly of Summer, of all the warm-weather recipes I had intended to share and began scheming and dreaming up transitional recipes, ones that could help me reconcile myself with my all-too-short love affair with Summer. But then accidentally, providentially, I found myself in possession of a cold cup of apple cider and after one sip, I knew it was over. It was cold and crisp and a bit spicy, just like Fall itself. I forgot all about that Other Season and fell completely, unabashedly in love.
And so I am diving right in to all things Fall–chunky knits, tall boots, and decadent recipes that warm the soul. If you are still desperately clinging to Summer, I urge you to give it up. There are better things in store, I promise–like the delicious recipe I’m about to give you for caramel apple cider with spiked whipped cream. You’ll be over it in a flash– a bit of indulgence and a little rum could mend any broken heart, no?
Cider is one of my favorite fall things. I buy it by the gallon and drink it straight and cold or order big steaming mugs of it laced with caramel at coffee shops. The latter can get a bit pricey after awhile which is why I decided to make it myself this year. The caramel is a cinch to make if you have a little patience and a long-sleeved shirt (sugar burns are not fun; dress appropriately.) I suppose you could cheat and buy some in the grocery store, but then the intoxicating smell of hot sugar wouldn’t waft through your kitchen and settle in your living room for half the day. Store-bought caramel certainly won’t have the depth of flavor of homemade, either. I let mine bubble and brown a tad longer than suggested, resulting in a rich color and flavor reminiscent of the burnt sugar shell atop crème brûlée. Swirled in hot cider, it makes the perfect companion to a warm drink on a cool day. The whipped cream is really the cherry on top. I barely sweeten it, then spike it with a splash of rum and a dash of spicy cinnamon.
It’s officially Fall now; drink this cider and surrender yourself to the season. Allow yourself to be giddy over silly things like pumpkins and haystacks. Smile for no reason. Enjoy the chills when the cold snap hits. Embrace these days for it’s the early ones that are the sweetest when falling in love.
Caramel Apple Cider with Rum-Spiked Whipped Cream
For the caramel: Follow this recipe and read these tips. As the recipe mentions you can store the caramel in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. It’s also wonderful as apple dip, drizzled over ice cream, etc.
For the whipped cream: This makes a small amount, but is enough for several mugs of cider. Double or triple as needed.
* A little tip–cream thickens quickest when cold. I like to use a metal bowl which I pop in the freezer for a few minutes before beginning the process. Also, I keep my rum in the freezer which is helpful for this recipe, too.
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tbsp spiced rum (such as Captain Morgan’s)
2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
Place the cream in a large bowl and begin whisking by hand (if you have a stand or hand mixer, kudos to you, use that). Whisk for about 2-3 minutes or until the cream begins to thicken.
Add rum, sugar and cinnamon and continue whisking until it forms stiff peaks. Keep cold until serving.
For the apple cider: I like to make 6 oz servings as it is very rich. Keeping that in mind, heat as much cider as needed for the amount you are serving in a small saucepan over medium heat. Place a tablespoon of caramel per serving in the bottom of each mug. When the cider begins to simmer, remove from heat and pour into mugs. Stir to distribute the caramel and top with a dollop of whipped cream.